NEWS: Mole y Abuela offers 50% off bar tabs during Tampa Bay Lightning 2019 playoff games

Looking for somewhere to drink during the NHL Stanley Cup 2019 playoff games? Tampa Bay Lightning fans can head over to Mole y Abuela in Downtown Tampa and enjoy 50% off all tabs at the bar and rooftop bar during all Lightning playoff games. Their rooftop projector will be showing all the games throughout the playoffs.

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Mole y Abuela opened in the old Fly Bar space on Franklin Street recently. The offer cocktails, wine, beer, Spanish tapas, and some great Spanish wines. It is run by celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani and open from 5PM to midnight from Monday to Thursday and 5PM to 3AM on Friday and Saturday.

Chef Fabio grew up in Florence, Italy and moved to California in 2005 where he opened his first USA-based restaurant called Café Firenze. He has been featured on Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament, and plenty of other Food Network shows. He has a YouTube channel called Fabio’s Kitchen that he released in February 2017.

Mole y Abuela is owned by Nocturnal Hospitality Group which also owns Osteria Tampa and Franklin Manor.

Restaurant Name: Mole y Abuela

Cuisine: Spanish

Neighborhood: Downtown Tampa

Address: 1202 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602

Phone Number: (813) 370-1000

Website: https://moleyabuelatampa.com/

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Nigerian concept Eko Kitchen and Catering coming to San Francisco May 2019

Sometimes good things happen on Twitter. Twitter user and future restaurateur Simileoluwa Adebajo shared her plans to make a Nigerian restaurant in San Francisco this past Friday on the social media platform and went viral across the internet.

Nigeria is home to hundreds of ethnic groups and nearly 200 million people, but restaurants are far and few between and she hopes to change that.

The name of the restaurant will be Eko Kitchen and it is currently having pop-ups around the city and offering delivery service with plans for an opening on Friday, May 3rd, 2019 at Joint Venture Kitchen -167 11th Street, San Francisco, California.

The restaurant will offer service Friday evening through Sundays and handle catering on weekdays from Monday to Wednesday.

Joint Venture Kitchen is a fully-equipped restaurant space in SoMA that also serves as home to bay area pop-ups in San Francisco. It is the hub of Eko Kitchen.

Simileoluwa Adebajo shares, “Nigerian food is soulful, spicy, and full of life, much like Nigerian people. I started Eko Kitchen because I missed home and wanted to share Nigerian culture with the world through our food.”

Adebajo does not have a formal background in kitchens or restaurants, but has been offering delivery on UberEATs and Postmates since July of 2018 and only recently added pop-ups, cooking classes, and catering to her business. She credits her mother and 2 grandmothers for the things she has learned about cooking as well as the internet.

Delivery is currently being offered on UberEATs and Postmates with items such as Moin Moin, Ofada Stew, Nigerian Style Fried Rice, Honey Glazed Jolloff Wings, and more.

For more information, visit Eko Kitchen and Catering online at http://ekokitchensf.wixsite.com/nomnom/menu.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ekokitchensf/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ekokitchensf/

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NEWS: Mi Viejo Latin Cafe & Catering now open in Apollo Beach

Restaurants are opening in droves right now across Tampa Bay. Down in Apollo Beach, Mi Viejo Latin Cafe & Catering opened their doors to the public today. The owners, Roger and Veronica Lima, originally were a part of Liborio’s Cafe, which is a popular Latin cafeteria in the Brandon area.

Photos via Facebook.

Mi Viejo offers a number of Cuban dishes including Palomilla Steak, Milanesa, Churrasco, Cuban Sandwiches, Media Noches, Ropa Vieja, and more with most menu items under $10. There are deviled crabs and empanadas for-sale as well as Tamal Cubanos. Breakfast is available. Coffee fans can find some Cafe con Leche and Cuban espresso for-sale, while sweet lovers can enjoy flan, arroz con leche, dulce de leche, and tres leches. You’ll even find churros at this new spot.

Mi Viejo is located at 6002 N. U.S. Highway 41, Apollo Beach, Florida. The Apollo Beach and Southshore area are rapidly expanding with new restaurants and breweries popping up regularly time as more homes are built in the Big Bend area and homes and subdivisions continue to expand south of Riverview.

Current hours at Mi Viejo are Monday to Friday from 6:30AM to 8PM and Saturdays from 7AM to 8PM. They are closed on Sundays.

Restaurant Name: Mi Viejo Latin Cafe & Catering

Neighborhood: Apollo Beach, Southshore

Address: 6002 North US Highway 41 Apollo Beach, Florida 33572

Phone Number: (813) 803-8223

Menu: http://www.miviejolatincafe.com/menu

Website: http://www.miviejolatincafe.com/

NEWS: Kiwami Sushi and Ramen opening Saturday, April 6th in Brandon

Brandon’s first official ramen shop is opening this week on Saturday, April 6th at 12PM. Kiwami Sushi and Ramen will offer a special introductory 20% off promotion from April 6th to April 20th.

The new shop will be located at 10262 Causeway Blvd. Tampa, Florida 33619, just minutes from the Westfield Brandon Towncenter and the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway Faulkenburg exit.

The owner’s background is from Orenchi Ramen, which is a popular ramen chain in California. Kiwami will be serving shoyu and tonkotsu ramen for lunch as well as dan dan noodle soup for vegetarians. The menu will expand at dinner to include spicy miso ramen, kimchi ramen, and more.

Prices will start at around $11 and lunch specials will be available.

The restaurant will be open Tuesday through Sunday and closed on Mondays.

They are still hiring staff including sushi chefs, line cooks, servers, and hosts. Interesting parties can apply in person at the restaurant or call (813) 393-0683.

Find out more at kiwamiramensushi.com.

8th Annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival Winners

The 8th Annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival was a success yet again. Competitors came from all around to compete for the World’s Best Cuban Sandwich. Cuban Sandwich Festival is a precursor to the World Food Championships. This year’s event was held in Historic Ybor City at Centennial Park which is where the event was first hosted 8 years ago.

The winners of the event are split into categories that competitors participated in.

Tampa Historic Sandwich:

  1. Las Palmas Latin Grill: This is a small restaurant near Wesley Chapel and New Tampa serving Cuban food. 6431 E County Line Rd Suite 104, Tampa, FL 33647. (813) 803-3903. laspalmaslatingrill.com
  2. First Harvest Deli
  3. GloriRod’s Coffee Shop: Lowry Park coffee shop named after Figuereo matriarch founded by Juan and Kir Figuereo, Gloria that serves sandwiches, pastries, empanadas, and salads, among other things. They claim their secret is their pork, which is marinated with Gloria’s secret recipe and slow-roasted until it melts off the bone. GloriRod’s opened in late 2018 and found the Cuban Sandwich Festival via Facebook, they wanted to enter due to the important of the Cuban Sandwich to history and culture in Tampa. 7901 N. Armenia Ave Ste B, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 650-1332. glorirodscoffeeshop.com

Non-Traditional Cuban Sandwich:

  1. That’s My Dog: Mobile food truck from South Florida in the Ft. Lauderdale and Miami area. facebook.com/thatsmydogfoodtruck
  2. Smokin Showin Catering: Two firemen who love to cook based out of Land O Lakes. They do a variety of bbq including smoked pork, chicken, meatloaf, ribs, and more.  (813) 294-9892. smokeshowincatering.com
  3. Firebread

Popular Cuban Sandwich:

  1. Cuban Spot: Houston food truck serving up Cuban eats. Originally from Miami, but living in Texas for 14 years. These minds behind Cuban Spot have no formal kitchen training, but are passionate about Cuban food. Owners say the Cuban population is rising little by little in Houston due to the cheap cost of living. Cuban Spot’s founders were tired of all the taco spots in Texas and decided to create a spot for Cuban food 4 years ago in 2015. Initially focusing on Cuban dishes such as Cuban fritas, the Cuban Sandwich became a shining star for them and after being called the best by their customers, they decided to enter the Cuban Sandwich Festival. They credit their success on their modifications to their Cuban bread, their flavorful and juicy pulled park, and using hot pork instead of cold slices. (713) 679-3802. thecubanspot.com
  2. Tampa Sammich, LLC: Local sandwich standard serving up Cubans made with La Segunda Bread. (813) 447-4316. facebook.com/tampasammich
  3. This Little Pig: Food stand specializing in creole, bbq, fusion. Chef John originally hails from Miami and worked at the Brennan’s at Palace Cafe, Bourbon House, and Dickie Brennan’s Steak House in New Orleans. After reviving and running Maple Street Patisserie Et Deli on Magazine Street, Chef John held the Executive Chef position at Upperline restaurant before coming back to Florida to be closer to family and raise children in Tampa. This Little Pig does pop ups at local breweries and “open format” catering. Chef John used his influences from Miami and Tampa to guide him in this sandwich that uses in-house cured and smoked Tasso, pork roasted in traditional mojo, a dijon/majo blend, and crispy garlic dill with salami and swiss served on historic La Segunda Cuban bread with butter and foil wrapped cobblestones. This Little Pig also offered a Po’ Boy version with lettuce, tomatoe, and spice creole comeback sauce – a nod to their time in New Orleans. (813)526-3497 facebook.com/thislittlepigbbq

World’s Best Cuban Sandwich:

  1. Chef Iliana Concierge Chef: Chef Iliana competes all over the country in food competitions. This will be her second time at the World Food Championships and she has won 3 golden tickets in total to the competition. She works with Fight2Feed to create competitions to help feed people in need in 26 cities. She signed up for the Cuban Sandwich Festival as a way to challenge herself and competed with the support of her family this year who she cooked with as a family exercise. She also won the Kissimmee Cuban Sandwich Festival earlier in 2019. www.facebook.com/conciergechefevents
  2. Cuban Spot: Houston food truck serving up Cuban eats. (713) 679-3802. thecubanspot.com
  3. Los Cochintos

NEWS: M. Bird rooftop bar and lounge now open at Armature Works Tampa

The minds behind Armature Works, Ciro’s, Boca, and Ichicoro have joined forces to create M. Bird, a rooftop bar and lounge, on top of Armature Works Tampa, a historic building that has been recently restored and opened a mixed-use space in Tampa Heights.

The bar program features a tropically-driven craft-cocktail menu with VIP bottle service and a selection of rums and other sugarcane spirits. Some cocktails on the menu include Mai Tai ($13), Hemingway Daquiri ($10), Singani Sour ($11), and Daisy de Santiago ($13).

Small plates will be available for visitors including vaca fritas tostones ($16), citrus glazed branzino ($28), jerk chicken egg rolls ($15), and a bite-sized version of mofongo ($15).

Taryn Buck, co-owner of Armature Works, shares: “M.Bird’s origin comes from the Florida State Bird, the mockingbird, with live greenery and pops of color, guests will feel as if they are stepping into another city…it will be a completely different and unique experience.”

Decor-wise the bar and lounge with have a mod-dec design with unique seating options. The rooftop bar offers unobstructed views of the skyline in Tampa and waterfront views of the Hillsborough River. Guests must be 21+ to access M. Bird and reservations are required for parties of 6 or more.

Find out more about M. Bird at mbirdtampa.com.

WeWork Food Labs debuting in 2019 for food innovators

WeWork Labs is launching WeWork Food Labs, an innovation lab that will be focused on powering future food, this year with programming starting this spring and a flagship space opening in late 2019 in New York City.

WeWork Labs currently operates in 49 locations including 32 cities and 15 countries and serves over 1,000 startups around the world. WeWork is known worldwide as a leader in the cowork space and opening a cowork location in Tampa soon.

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WeWork Food Labs will support growing startups by bringing together entrepreneurs, industry experts, and investors in the same space with a focus on food. WeWork is seeding $1 million in equity investments to its first Food Labs accelerator cohort as a display of its commitment to this sphere.

The flagship space will be in New York City at 511 West 25th Street and open later this year. It will feature a custom R&D space and food pantry with dedicated workspace, merchandising area, outdoor space for events, and more.

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Two programming tracks be available at WeWork Food Labs. The Food Labs Program will be an inclusive, flexible, workspace for startups across in the food industry and be available with a paid membership. The Food Labs Accelerator will follow a traditional accelerator model and be a direct arm for investments in early stage food startups.

Community will be a major focus of WeWork Food Labs as is the case with most cowork spaces with a goal of bringing together startups, policy makers, university partners, venture capitalists, and more to help startups bring their ideas to life.

Univos Partners and their VC fund New Crop Capital will join the space with their portfolio companies and review startups for potential investments in sustainable and plant-based solutions.

An advisory board will consist of leaders, innovators, and educators throughout the food realm including CHLOE founder Samantha Wasser and food scholar Marion Nestle of Food Politics and professor at New York University.

Marion Nestle shares, “From malnutrition to food safety to labeling, the food industry today is facing major challenges. With WeWork Food Labs, there’s an opportunity to propel the entrepreneurs that are building solutions. I’m excited to support WeWork Labs on their WeWork Food Labs initiative and look forward to seeing how we can create real impact.”

Applications are currently being accepted for startups to join the first WeWork Food Labs cohort in New York City. Those interested can find out more at http://www.wework.com/food-labs

News: Mini Doughnut Factory closes St. Petersburg location

Popular local Tampa Bay chain Mini Doughnut Factory announced today on social media channels that they are closing their St. Petersburg location permanently. The Tampa location will remain open. The chain was embroiled in a lawsuit and legal drama these past few months between the investors and founders. Damages were reported to be up to $1 million according to the Tampa Bay Times. Most of the drama seemed to surround the St. Petersburg location.

 

8th Annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival coming March 30-31st

Are you ready to eat all the Cuban sandwiches? I sure am.

The time is coming for the 8th Annual International Cuban Sandwich Festival on Saturday, March 30th and Sunday, March 31st in Tampa, Florida. Tampa is home to the original Cuban Sandwich.

Competitors will arrive from around the world including countries as far away as South Korea to compete for the best traditional and non-traditional. New to this year is the Home Chef Competition.

The event is organized by Latin Times Media.

Taste of the Cuban Sandwich

Saturday will feature the Taste of the Cuban Sandwich at Centro Asturiano on the edge of Ybor City with 25 vendors serving Cuban sandwiches from 11AM to 6PM. The organizers will break the world record for the largest Cuban sandwich with a sandwich that will be over 175 feet long.

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The sandwich will be donated to feed the homeless per festival tradition.

Taste of the Cuban Sandwich offers FREE admission for attendees and is family-friendly.

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There will also be a KIDS Cuban Sandwich Showdown organized by Junior Chefs of America.

International Cuban Sandwich Festival

Sunday is the big affair with the International Cuban Sandwich Festival competition happening at Centennial Park (1800 East 8th Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605) in Historic Ybor City from 11AM to 6PM.

Over 100 food, cultural, and business vendors will fill the historic park for a day to remember. Live music and performances will occur throughout and their will be domino tournaments. Come hungry! General Admission is FREE.

VIP tickets are available and includes sampling of the Cuban Sandwich contest entries and refreshments as well as mingling with judges, red carpet access, and more. Tickets start at $25 for kids and $45 for adults. Family packages are available. Buy VIP: http://bit.ly/2HK8fxV

Event name: 8th Annual Cuban Sandwich Festival

Date & Time: Saturday, March 30th, 11AM-6PM and Sunday, March 31st, 11AM-6PM

Buy VIP tickets: http://bit.ly/2HK8fxV

Ages: All ages welcome

Website: http://www.thecubansandwichfestival.com/

NEW: Foodie app lets diners review restaurant dishes, build collections

“What’s your favorite dish on the menu?” is probably one of the questions most asked by diners at restaurants to servers. Usually you’ll receive anywhere from an honest answer to a made-up promotional line that has been passed from management to server to encourage you to order something not commonly ordered or expensive.

Entire articles and publications are based around this simple question that many of us are constantly wondering about.

A new app called Foodie seeks to change that and provide a new tool for diners.

“You can’t just eat good food. You’ve got to talk about it too. And you’ve got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.” –Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird

The focus of Foodie is to help recommend top menu items to diners. Menu items are ranked in order of popularity with reviews and photos from users. Users can also build lists or collections to help diners find ideal restaurants for specific kinds of food.

As someone who personally spends 20-30 minutes trying to decide what to order (I’m extremely indecisive), Foodie can be a useful way to quickly navigate a new restaurant experience or discover what others are ordering.

The idea for Foodie came when Founder, Vaibhav Verma, wondered himself what to eat at restaurants in Chicago and realized how difficult it is to find that information on popular apps like Yelp or Tripadvisor. He decided to build an app to make it easier and help diners order the best dish on the menu.

Foodie has fully launched in San Francisco and Chicago and is now having events around the city including at numerous bubble tea shops around the city with plans for future expansion in other cities around the country.

Popular restaurants and cafes such as Kitchen Story and Boba Guys can be found on the app.

Using Foodie is as simple as pulling up a business and looking at the list of top dishes to help you decide what to order. Foodie currently has 198,000 ratings, 3,281 restaurants, and 256,000 dishes listed inside the app with more on the way.

The usefulness of the app will depend on how this growth occurs for diners, a simple request button can help put add restaurants into the app with a reasonable time frame.

Foodie is not the first app to provide to provide a focus on dishes, but the focus on quality of dishes is different from prior ideas such as Foodspotting (now owned by OpenTable) and Instagram which primarily feature images with sometimes little to no information about how good a dish actually is.

An intuitive search feature allows you to search for a specific type of menu item or dish and find reviews about it. Currently the app is growing its user-base, therefore this is certainly a feature that will become more useful as more users adopt the app and begin plugging in reviews, but the feature has plenty of potential.

Foodie can also work as a food journal or diary where you can keep track of what you’re eating, save that your profile, and follow what other people are eating. Reviews are shorter thanks to the focus around specific dishes instead of a full restaurant review, making it simpler to keep track of and easy to dive into other reviewers thoughts.

Foodie is available for free on the Apple App Store and Google Play.

On the restaurant business side, Foodie is providing analytics of restaurant reviews and analysis of why restaurants are receiving reviews of certain dishes. Those analytics reports are currently available free of charge for interested restaurants as they get the app running.

For more information about Foodie visit them online at thefoodieapp.com.