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NEWS: Shake Shack confirmed coming to Tampa

After a long wait, Shake Shack is finally confirmed as coming to Tampa, first reported by Tampa Bay Business Journal. The location will be at Midtown Tampa, a “new kind of urban experience with 1.8 million square feet of retail, residential, 3 Class A office buildings, entertainment and hospitality”.

The long-awaited location for the gourmet burger chain still has no opening date for Tampa, but is at least confirmed to be opening by the developer. Shake Shack has long been open in Orlando and opened in Sarasota recently. Midtown Tampa is expected to open in time for the Super Bowl in February 2021.

“Shake Shack is an iconic brand with worldwide recognition, and is yet another first-to-market restaurant that we’re thrilled to bring to Tampa,” said Nicholas Haines, CEO, Bromley Companies. “We’ve followed Shake Shack from its first location next to our office in New York’s Madison Square Park, and appreciate the delight and appeal it has to its customers.”  

Shake Shack has over 170 locations worldwide and has been growing around the country in recent years including locations on both the east and west coast. The franchise started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park back in 2001. The burger concept was started in 2004 as a kiosk.

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NEWS: Michelle Faedo’s 2nd location opening January 8th in Downtown Tampa

Michelle’s Faedo is opening her second location of Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine on Wednesday, January 8th, 2020 in Downtown Tampa at 601 East Kennedy Boulevard, Tampa, FL, 33602 inside the Hillsborough County Building.

The restaurants are an off-shot of Michelle Faedo’s On The Go food truck which has been in operation for years. The first location is located at the ENCORE! building not too far away from Downtown close to Ybor City.

Deviled crab
Deviled crab

Michelle Faedo's Famous Cuban featured with her food truck Faedo's on the Go
Michelle Faedo’s Famous Cuban featured with her food truck Faedo’s on the Go

Popular items on the menu include the Famous Traditional Cuban and deviled crabs that pay homage to Tampa’s rich food history. Like the Cuban Sandwich, deviled crabs were created by the immigrant communities in Tampa that existed during the cigar boom.

Faedo is an award-winner from the annual Cuban Sandwich Festival and is well-recognized for her Cuban sandwiches around the Tampa Bay area.

The opening hours for the location will be Monday through Friday from 7AM to 4PM.

City of Tampa Mayor, Jane Castor, is expected to be there at around 1PM to celebrate the occasion.

The County Building

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NEWS: Armature Works hosting free viewing party for Downtown Tampa Lighted Boat Parade

Armature Works continues to celebrate the holidays by offering a free viewing party for the Downtown Tampa Lighted Boat Parade on Saturday, December 21st, 2019 from 6:30PM to 9:30PM.

The free event will take place on the Riverfront Lawn just south of Armature Works along the Hillsborough River.

The annual parade has become one of Tampa’s signature holiday events featuring hundreds of festive aquatic vessels as the make their way down the Hillsborough River.

Guests are welcome to bring lawn chairs and blankets. The event is also pet-friendly.

Note: outside food, drinks, and coolers are not permitted at Armature Works.

Parking: Parking at Armature Works is free Monday through Thursday and Friday before 4PM, Saturday and Sunday mornings before 11AM. Parking at all other times is $5. In addition, there are over 400 street-side parking spots available. Valet is also available most event nights and weekends. For more information please visit armatureworks.com/parking.

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NEWS: Blind Tiger takes over Foundation Coffee spot at Sparkman Wharf Tampa

Foundation Coffee has left Sparkman Wharf after the end of their lease the space is now occupied by Blind Tiger Cafe. Blind Tiger has been rapidly growing in the last two years with new locations in South Tampa, Westchase, WestShore, Downtown Tampa, and now a parcel at Sparkman Wharf.

Foundation Coffee responded to a request for comment: “We could get into a very detailed explanation but suffice to say it was wrong timing for Foundation Coffee. Please join us at our flagship location at 1617 N. Franklin Street in Tampa or our totally outdoor venue at 10020 Carr Rd. In Riverview. Thanks.”

Some of the locations are unconventional and previously were occupied with other coffee companies, for example their recent acquisition at WestShore Plaza replaced Starbucks Coffee. Third wave coffee has been rapidly growing in the past year with Spaddy’s Coffee expanding, Buddy Brew and Kahwa moving into the grocery business, King State opening their first cafe, and a number of new upstarts opening on both sides of Tampa Bay. 

The food hall boom has helped to fuel these expansions across the bay area.

One has to wonder when the market for third wave coffee is going to saturate, but so far it doesn’t seem to be too unstable. There have been a handful of closings including most recently the LCPX Cafe on Armenia Avenue and Mountaineer Coffee in Oldsmar.

Most of popular third wave coffee shops are concentrated in the South Tampa, Downtown Tampa, and Seminole Heights area. It would be interesting to see successful third wave coffee shops in the more scattered parts of town such as in Brandon and Carrollwood which for now just seem to be saturated with Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts locations. 

Blind Tiger opens at Sparkman Wharf in Downtown Tampa on Friday, December 13th, 2019.

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NEWS: Hemingway’s expanding north to Atlanta’s Krog Street Market

Atlanta will soon get a taste of Tampa with Hemingway’s expanding north to A-Town’s Krog Street Market in spring of 2020. Hemingway’s is currently located inside the Armature Works food hall in Tampa Heights and serves Cuban dishes with a focus on Tampeño food such as Cuban Sandwiches (WITH salami).

Chef Felicia “Phe” Lacalle is a previous winner of the International Cuban Sandwich Festival. She worked in the past as an Executive Sous and Regional Pastry Chef at Roy’s and Executive Chef at Samba Room.

Make sure you try the chicharrones, they are not to be missed.

Here’s one of my favorite videos featuring Chef Phe:

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NEWS: Hot Pot BBQ is now open on Fowler Avenue and serving unlimited hot pot and Korean BBQ

Update: The owners of Nine Spices Hot Pot in St. Petersburg have reached out to clarify that they are not affiliated with the Hot Pot BBQ spot on Fowler. The business licenses were strangely similar.

The rumor mill has been swirling for quite some time, but now Hot Pot BBQ is now open to the public.

Diners can enjoy unlimited hot pot and Korean BBQ for around $30. The option to exclude bbq will save you a few bucks, but I don’t suggest doing that.

I stopped by for a visit earlier this week and tried the Korean BBQ and hot pot and was pleasantly surprised at how delicious the food was. The quality of the meat and seafood were far superior to competitors throughout the Tampa Bay area and although the prices are a little higher than Izziban BBQ in Orlando, I do think the higher price-point is worth it.

The quality of the spicy pork belly cut and bulgogi was noticeably great. The Korean BBQ grills cooked the meat cuts quickly and efficiently. The restaurant offers butter to grease the surface. Hot Pot offers your standard lettuce wraps available and side veggies to add to your meats. I highly recommend the Korean BBQ at Hot Pot BBQ.

The seafood selection was also satisfactory and on-par with popular hot pot places in Orlando and St. Petersburg with crawfish, squid, clams, mussels, fish balls, and more. The broths for the hot pot are a little on the blander-side, but you can easily spice it up with their sauces and side offerings including heaping of garlic and cilantro.

Veggies, fruits, and desserts rotate around the restaurant on a conveyor belt that is similar to many modern Asian eateries around the country. Diners can simply pick up anything they like to eat and add it to their food. Some things we enjoyed were the cake desserts, oranges, instant ramen, dumplings, and more.

Beware that there is a fee for those who do not finish their food that is marked at $13.99 and a 2 hour limit for enjoying the buffet.

I recommend Hot Pot BBQ and suggest you give it a look if you’re interested in trying something new in Tampa. Soon Yum Yum Hot Pot AYCE will also be joining this area. The winner, of course, is diners in Tampa.

Restaurant Name: Boil Spot Hot Pot BBQ

Neighborhood: Uptown, USF

Cuisine: Hot Pot, Korean BBQ

Address: 1120 E Fowler Ave, Tampa, FL 33612

Phone: (813) 374-9947

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NEWS: Wine Bar George at Disney Springs in Orlando offers Thanksgiving specials

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching and there a number of places offering Thanksgiving specials. One of those places is Wine Bar George at Disney Springs in Orlando.

Thanksgiving offering at Wine Bar George.

On November 28th, Wine Bar George will be serving a traditional turkey plate ($34 for adults, $16 for kids 9 and under) as well as new Santa Carota Short Ribs ($39) alongside select items from their regular menu. Choose from 140 wines all available by the glass, bottle and ounce for the perfect holiday celebration.

Black Friday and Thanksgiving are a busy time for tourism in Orlando. Wine Bar George is one of many places offering options for the season.

For more information visit them online at winebargeorge.com.

Here is the holiday menu:

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NEWS: Carnival Cruise Line celebrates 25 years of sailing from Tampa

Carnival Cruise Line celebrated 25 years of sailing from Tampa on November 10th, 2019. The milestone was commemorated with a plaque from Carnival President Christine Duffy to Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson.

Carnival President Christine Duffy and Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson
 Left to right – Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson, Captain Allen Thompson – president of Tampa harbor pilots association, Carnival President Christine Duffy, Carnival’s Director of Port Operations Carlos Estrada, and Port Tampa Bay’s Senior Director of Business Development Greg Lovelace

The service first launched in 1994 and currently services 294,000 passengers a year from Tampa, nearly 9 times the original load. Tampa is an important part of Carnival’s “close-to-home ship deployment strategy in which the line positions ships near large U.S. population centers along the East and West Coasts and the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Tampa is a convenient, centrally located homeport – not to mention a popular vacation destination – and the growth that we’ve experienced at this port is a testament to the wonderful partnership with the Port we’ve enjoyed for the past 25 years,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. 

Carnival Legend

The 25th anniversary celebration was held aboard Carnival Legend, which arrived in Tampa last month, providing a new choice from this market. The ship features a variety of onboard innovations, including Green Thunder, a drop-down slide that’s one of the fastest and steepest at sea, along with food and beverage choices, such as the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, Bonsai Sushi serving Asian delicacies, Guy’s Burger Joint developed in tandem with Food Network star Guy Fieri, and a classic American steakhouse. The ship features hundreds of balcony staterooms as well a luxurious health and wellness facility.

Carnival Legend will operate a seasonal schedule of six-, seven-and eight-day cruises featuring top destinations in the western Caribbean, including Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize, Mahogany Bay, Costa Rica, the Panama Canal and Grand Cayman.

The ship will also offer a 13-day Carnival Journeys cruise from Tampa to New York May 3-16, 2020, featuring a partial transit of the Panama Canal, along with visits to Aruba, Cozumel, Limon (Costa Rica), Cartagena (Colombia) and Grand Turk.

To learn more about Carnival Cruise Line, visit them online at Carnival.com

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NEWS: Universal Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites opens March 17th 2020 in Orlando

Universal Orlando Resort will open their 8th resort, Universal Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, on Tuesday, March 17, 2020.

The new hotel adds 2,050 guests rooms to the Universal Orlando hotel portfolio with standard rooms and 2-bedroom suites that can accommodate up to 6 people. It will join sister property, Universal’s Endless Summer Resort, Surfside Inn and Suites, which opened in June 2019.

Dockside Suites and Standard Model Room Shoot Endless Summer Resort Hotels
Dockside Suites and Standard Model Room Shoot Endless Summer Resort Hotels

Rates start at $85 per night and aims to be an affordable options for visitors to the Orlando area and theme parks. Hotel guests will receive early admission to Universal theme parks, complimentary transportation to and from theme parks, and other amenities.

Dockside Inn and Suites is the 8th Universal Orlando partnership with Loews Hotels & Co.

Some attractions guests can enjoy at Universal include The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Despicable Me Minion Mayhem, Jurassic Park River Adventure, TRANSFORMERS: The Ride-3D, and The Bourne Stuntacular – which makes its debut at Universal Studios Florida in spring 2020.

Universal is also hard at work on a new theme park, Epic Universe, which will be the 4th theme park that Universal opens joining Universal Studios, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, and Universal’s Volcano Bay. The theme park is slated to open in 2023.

More information can be found on their website at universalorlando.com/web/en/us/places-to-stay/universals-endless-summer-resort-dockside-inn-and-suites

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NEWS: LPCX Latin Cafe Bakery closing doors on November 9th in Tampa

LPCX announced today on Instagram that they will close their doors starting end of the day Saturday, November 9th until further notice as they work out what is next for their business.

The cafe has been known to serve great coffee drinks and beautiful latte art so it is certainly a loss for Tampa’s coffee community.

They were recently featured on That’s So Tampa’s 3 hidden coffee shops you need to visit. Unfortunately – it may have been too late to change the trajectory for the LCPX Cafe. Make sure you stop by for a last cup of joe if you have a chance.

La Pequeña Colombia ​will remain open across the street.