NEWS: Hidden Star Tiki Bar opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa

Hidden Star Tiki Bar is opening June 28th in Downtown Tampa inside Anise Global Gastrobar. Anise has been serving high-quality cocktails as well as gastronomical food fare with an Asian twist in Tampa for years and is the creation of Xuan Pham Hurt.

This is her fourth creation in Tampa following her North Star Eatery at Hall on Franklin and her Stinky Bunz food truck that started it all.

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When asked what inspired this tiki bar to be created, Hurt told me, “It never fails that whenever I travel to different cities, I always seek out their best tiki bars. We felt that the residents and visitors of Downtown Tampa would appreciate their very own tiny oasis in the middle of the city. Tasty tropical beverages with whimsical garnishes can make any day feel like a vacation. We are fortunate to have the space to provide an intimate setting for the creation of innovative and playful cocktails made with our highest standards”.

Hurt will work with Sean O’Connor, who she describes as a local tiki trademan, Christina Gilson, Anise Beverage Director, Justin Gray, United States Bartenders Guild Veteran, and the rest of the Anise bar team to develop the cocktail menu. They want to provide modern rifts on classic favorites that Hurt feels will exceed everyone’s expectations.

Hidden Star will only be open Friday and Saturday nights from 7PM to 2AM. Guests will check-in at the Anise host stand and will be escorted to the hidden entrance once seats become available.

Due to the limited space, reservations will not be taken nor will estimated wait times given. Random chances for expedited entry will be announced via email newsletters and social media pages.

Hidden Star guests can expect an original menu of 7 to 8 elevated tiki cocktails and a few bar snack that they can enjoy in an intimate setting while surrounded by other enthusiasts. Beer, wine, mixed drinks, and a full dining menu will continue to only be offered in the main dining room at Anise.

Service is expected to start on the weekend of June 28th.

Find more information and sign-up for updates at aniseglobal.com.

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NEWS: Inside the Box closing at Armature Works on June 23rd

Inside the Box cafe’s outpost at Armature Works Heights Public Market is permanently closing down this week. You have until Sunday, June 23rd to enjoy their food at Armature Works.

Metropolitan Ministries will shift the focus of the social enterprise concept to catering. Inside the Box was given a year and a half lease at no cost from Armature Works to raise money for programs at Metropolitan Ministries and has used the lease to raise money at one of Tampa’s busiest spots in town.

Inside the Box served fresh sandwiches and fresh deli meat to visitors at the food hall. Metropolitan Ministries says this lease was helpful to “gain many valuable lessons while providing a rich learning experience for our clients and culinary students”.

Fans of the concept can still enjoy their food in the future at the Tampa International Airport and Orlando International Airport as well as at the Times building. Catering will be available for businesses or events.

Inside the Box has a Culinary Arts Program that helps train culinary students and pull them out of poverty. Their culinary program is growing and expanding and will soon open a second training location in a partnership with the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Over 250 students have graduated in the first 6 years. All graduates are now employed.

Inside the Box as a social enterprise made $1 million revenue in 2017 and grew that to $2 million in 2018 with Armature Works and Dough Nation added to the enterprise. Metropolitan Ministries has plans to continue growing and helping others through their social enterprise in the future.

Find out more about Inside the Box at itbcafe.org.

NEWS: King State grand opening in Tampa Heights set for June 21st

The highly anticipated King State will finally open their doors next week and have their Grand Opening on Friday, June 21st in Tampa Heights according a report from local newspaper Creative Loafing.

Their cafe will be located at 520 E. Floribraska Avenue, minutes from Lee’s Grocery and Shuffle. The location has been in the works since at least 2016.

The cafe will feature craft beer, wine, and bites as well as their popular coffee roasts. The owners were early proponents of the third wave coffee scene in Tampa which has exploded over the last few years and landed Tampa on many lists for best coffee towns.

The owners were quoted by the Tampa Bay Times in 2015 saying, “If you have two roasters, then four roasters open up next year, and then those four roasters talk to friends, and eight roasters open the next year. All of a sudden, five or 10 years from now, there’s going to be a third-wave coffee shop in every neighborhood.”

The new King State cafe is a major development for the Tampa Heights neighborhood which was bolstered in recent years by food halls such as The Hall on Franklin and Armature Works.

Early investments by Ulele and Foundation Coffee have brought many business interests into the area. The loyal social media following of King State is sure to bring many people into the neighborhood.

With Bay Cannon Brewing coming soon to North Hyde Park, it seems like Tampa is heading into a major next phase of development.

NEWS: Spaddy’s Coffee Co. owner and restaurant sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement

Update: Both parties have come to an agreement and Florida Avenue Eats has rebranded as Florida Eats.

There has been talk in town for some time in Tampa about a new restaurant coming to Seminole Heights called Florida Avenue Eats. The restaurant is owned by Greg Spadaccini of Spaddy’s Coffee Co., a popular coffee truck in the area. The restaurant was recently sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Ave. Brewing, just 4 days after their grand opening.

Spadaccini has made a GoFundMe to help with legal funds. The statement on the GoFundMe reads:

“My name is Greg Spadaccini and I need your help to raise funds for legal representation. I am the owner and operator of Spaddy’s Coffee Co. in Seminole Heights and in April of 2019 I decided to launch Florida Avenue Eats. It’s a fast casual restaurant serving bowls, wraps, and salads. 4 days after our grand opening, I was served at 6:30am with a summons to appear in civil federal court from Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Avenue Brewing.  Florida Avenue is a public road, one of Tampa’s longest stretching business roads, and the road we operate business on.

Adding the name “Florida Avenue” to the name of a business is not in any way unique and should not prohibit business owners like myself from operating under that naming convention.

Not only are they taking legal action against my business Florida Avenue Eats, but they have decided sue me personally.

With a newborn at home and incurring the recent expenses of a new restaurant buildout, I simply do not have the funds to personally protect myself and my family legally.

I am asking my community for support to help facilitate funds for legal representation. Anything counts, I will be forever grateful for your support.

Best wishes,
Greg “Spaddy” Spadaccini”

GoFundMe link: http://www.gofundme.com/f/legal-aid-for-spaddy

Some comments for local businesses:

The owner of Brew Bus Brewing and Florida Ave. Brewing has released a statement:

NEWS: Shake Shack now open at UTC Sarasota

Gourmet burger giant Shake Shack opens today at The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) Sarasota. The burger franchise hopes to have 200 locations by 2020.

Shake Shack is serving the Pie Oh My Concrete, which has vanilla custard mixed with a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds seasonal pie. 5% of the sales of this item will support Sunshine Community Compost.

Their goal is “to strengthen community connections and give back to the planet through accessible education and action programs that increase local composting, resource recovery and zero waste efforts”.

Other specialties offered include:

  • Shack Attack: Chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Mast Brothers chocolate chunks and chocolate sprinkles
  • Caramel Cone: Vanilla custard, salted caramel, sugar cone pieces and chocolate sprinkles

Local Florida craft beer will be for-sale at the location including Crooked Can Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, and Orange Blossom Brewing Co. Shake Shack’s own exclusive Brooklyn Brewing ShackMeister® Ale.

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The #SarasotaSquad shook things up today and got an exclusive sneak peek at the brand new @shakeshack at @universitytowncenter! We were really impressed with the quality of both the food and the service. The crinkle cut #fries were crispy and light, the chicken bites were fantastic and the burgers came in a few steps ahead of the classic fast food sandwich. Don’t step foot in here if you’re looking for fresh eats, this is where you eat on cheat day. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #SquadGoals. Thank you to @letseatsrq for inviting us! . . . . . . . . . #sarasota #sarasotafoodie #sarasotaeats #sarasotaeatsout #sarasotafood #sarasotarestaurants #srqfood #srqfoodie #srqlife #sarasotafoodblogger #sarasotafood #manateecounty #lakewoodranch #bradenton #shakeshack #smokeshack #srqlife

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The Herald-Tribune reported live from the opening today.

Now hopefully Shake Shack will set the stage and come to Tampa soon, hungry fans are still waiting for the franchise to enter the market. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the lease in Sarasota is for 10 years.

Shake Shack was founded in 2001 as a hot dog cart that has grown into a massive burger business. The company entered the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and prides itself on “100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. No hormones or antibiotics – EVER”.

Address: 190 N Cattlemen Road, Unit 1 Sarasota, FL 34243

Phone Number: (941) 413-1351

Hours: 11AM to 10PM, Sunday – Thursday, 11AM to 11PM, Friday & Saturday

Website: http://www.shakeshack.com/location/sarasota-fl/

NEWS: Big Ray’s Fish Camp in Tampa fundraises for Notre Dame repair on Good Friday

If you were on social media on Monday, you certainly saw the non-stop coverage of the Notre-Dame in Paris that caught on fire. Social media users watched helplessly as the historic building burned. The interior was intact after the fire and the country plans to rebuild.

A restaurant in Tampa wants to help raise funds for the rebuilding of the cathedral.

Big Ray’s Fish Camp in South Tampa plans to have a fundraiser on Good Friday, April 19th, to help donate some money back to the rebuilding of the Notre Dame.

Big Ray’s Fish Camp is located at 6116 Interbay Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33611. You can contact Big Ray’s Fish Camp at (813) 605-3615.

Gordon Ramsay – Lucky Cat Public Relations Human Disaster

Gordon Ramsay and a London Eater writer engaged in a battle this past week about her review of his new concept Lucky Cat. The Eater food writer, Angela Hui, called the concept “an actual kitchen nightmare”. She posted live from the media event on Instagram Stories and Gordon Ramsay proceeded to “call her out” afterwards for supposedly attacking his chef and his wife (choosing to twist her words), turning his entire 7 million+ strong base on social media into attack dogs that went after the writer. She was also confronted at the event by servers who were watching her posts.

The quality of the followers he has can best be shown in this comment I received after commenting on his post:

There’s so many issues here. First of all, as a celebrity chef award-winner it is irresponsible to use your platform to attack writers and journalists. When we look deeper this is also an attack on a person of color in an industry where people of color are far and few between and regularly cast aside.

Angela Hui is actually Asian and from a purely public relations point-of-view, Gordon Ramsay attacking the only Asian guest who was at his restaurant preview because she didn’t like his food and was understandably upset about being marginalized as the only Asian guest in a room is tone-deaf on his part.

Gordon Ramsay is rich and successful. He has numerous television shows and a career that isn’t going anywhere. There was no reason for Gordon to take a dig at a young writer. If anything, Gordon’s approach to this situation actually comes off as trying to silence critics and tell people of color that he really doesn’t care what they think and that he is going to take their culture’s food and not even consider what they think in the name of profits.

Gordon Ramsay has plenty of resources. He could empower Asian chefs, invite more Asian members of the media to his previews, seek feedback from the Asian community, there were plenty of way that Gordon Ramsay could have handled this media preview that he chose not to do. Instead – Gordon Ramsay created a worldwide meltdown and fiasco that showed no lack of real concern for the very people whose cuisine his restaurant seeks to sell.

I am convinced that Gordon Ramsay does not have a PR person and if he does, they probably also had a meltdown this past weekend. I know I would be.

Angela’s experience was more than a review, there was a way that Gordon Ramsay made her feel at his event that is unwelcome. Media guests should never be made to feel unwelcome. It is up to the host to make an environment that is inviting for guests and balances and takes in considerations. It is not that hard if you simply care a little bit about others.

Gordon Ramsay has television shows where he literally fixes restaurants like this. It is not hard Gordon. It is not a journalist’s job to give you positive feedback and when someone gives negative feedback, it is not your job as a restaurateur to fight back and enter a fiasco with the writer. Your job is to seek to understand where they are coming from and move on.

Clearly Gordon does not get it. No one is saying that you cannot make an Asian restaurant without being Asian, what they are saying is that you should be respectful of the culture of others and run your business better with consideration of the culture you are making a profit off of. You have enough money to hire someone to help you with this and do it right.

NEWS: Mini Doughnut Factory flagship South Tampa location now permanently CLOSED

The Tampa Bay Business Journal broke news last night that Mini Doughnut Factory’s flagship store in South Tampa is now permanently closed. It appears that the legal and financial woes were too much for the franchise to handle.

Just a few years ago Mini Doughnut Factory was one of the fastest rising businesses in Tampa with a fever pitch of business and support throughout the city. Mini Doughnut Factory won best donuts in town for multiple years in a row and was a local favorite of most locals. Major plans for expansion and to become a chain failed to materialize after an ill-fated opening in St. Petersburg.

The chain had a huge social media following and not a day would pass without seeing some mini donuts on Snapchat and Instagram in the last few years. John Mayer even stopped by a for a bite one day. Lines of little girls and mothers would be visible from early in the morning at the South Tampa store.

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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/

More stories about Nigerian food:

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.