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Encore project to expand with first retail outlet: Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine

By Monique Welch, Times Staff Writer
The Tampa Housing Authority Encore project has residential units and now retail shops with the grand opening of Faedo's restaurant and a barbershop on the way. [Tampa Housing Authority]

TAMPA — After previous failed efforts to bring retail to Encore, the Tampa Housing Authority is psyched for the grand opening of its first commercial space today and the second coming next month.

The Encore project, a $425 million redevelopment of the former Central Park Village public housing area has always envisioned creating a mixed-use community for both commercial and residential locations.

And now, the vision becomes reality as Michelle Faedo’s Tampeño Cuisine cuisine opens today, with hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Faedo’s, which holds awards for the best Cuban sandwich, returns to a storefront location after operating from a food truck for the last five years. But this time, the space at Encore located at 1218 Ray Charles Blvd., is its biggest yet: 1,450 square feet.

"We feel blessed to be the first retail space to open at Encore," said owner Michelle Faedo.

"It’s a gorgeous place and I see so many big things happening here."

More space calls for more food.

Favorites like the deviled crabs, empanadas, yellow rice, black beans, cubans remain on the menu, and Faedo’s will add Spanish bean soup, chowders, and gumbos.

Plus, they’ll have an Italian Day and seafood Fridays with paella, shrimp pasta, seafood gumbo and fresh salad, as well as a variety of sandwiches made fresh to order.

The menu will represent the self-taught chef and owner Michelle Faedo’s Tampa roots and are interpretations of various foods she was accustomed to eating, making a great stop for tourists.

"We’re really excited," said Leroy Moore, the housing authority’s chief operating officer. "We think she’s going to do phenomenally well and set the pace for our other retail in town square."

In regards to other retail, a barbershop and beauty salon called Bsnipped that’s prospered for more than 10 years in the Temple Terrace area will open around mid February as well as an early childcare center in partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools.

The businesses reflect the housing authority’s commitment to service-oriented outlets. With 662 residential units occupied at Encore, there is an interest in commercial uses, but even with major retailers like Walmart and Publix expressing interest, Moore said it won’t rush the process for the project, which will be under construction for five to seven years.

"Not pursuing all these national brands, but creating a sense of place for Encore means having that unique Tampa feel and flavor, and purposely going with local retailers becomes a destination location for those local restaurant food service suppliers," Moore said.

"Our focus is housing and the first thing we’re attracting is residential funding to build residency on this site. You cannot put a grocery store or open a restaurant where nobody lives. Commercial always follows rooftops."

They’re also seeking proposals for a 99-seat stage theater and plans also call for more residential units, a wellness center, grocery store and hotel.

Contact Monique Welch at [email protected]