SOHO — The owners of popular MacDinton's Irish Pub and Restaurant soon will be uncorking a new concept across the street.
The new SoHo gathering spot will be more upscale yet lower key than its boisterous counterpart, said MacDinton's general manager and co-owner Barry O'Connor, who will oversee both restaurants. The concept, simply called Cork, will in some ways reflect the mind-set of the MacDinton's ownership.
"My days of late nights at the bar are pretty much over," O'Connor quipped.
"I want to have a nice conversation and a glass of wine. … If you want to go crazy and have live music, you can go to MacDinton's across the street."
Naturally, Cork will be all about wine. O'Connor said the bar will be stocked with mostly affordable wines, many of them less well-known brands from vineyards in South America or Australia. Wine tastings will be held at least every other week.
Cork's location, in the former Casa Dolce at 406 S Howard Ave., is zoned to serve beer and wine only.
The menu at Cork will be geared for sharing and will revolve around appetizers, cheese plates and platters, O'Connor said. Live music will trend toward softer, more acoustical sounds.
"We've been looking the past few years for another venue to do another MacDinton's," O'Connor said. "Everywhere we looked, it wasn't the right fit. We decided to refocus and try something else."
Cork may open as early as the end of August, he said.
Bye to store, not pies
Over the years, as more restaurants and hotels have snapped up Mike Martin's sweet treats, his South Tampa retail store has become a smaller and smaller slice of his pie business.
Mike's Pies now are being served in 22 states and four countries.
"While that is a blessing, keeping our retail business going is simply not a priority," Martin said in a recent press release.
So Martin decided to close his retail store at 3225 S MacDill Ave. The little pie and coffee shop's last day was expected to be earlier this week on Wednesday, after City Times deadlines.
Martin is famous for his award-winning key lime pie; sales of the tart treat account for the majority of his pie business. But he likes to mix it up: Mike's Pies ships six different pies and three different cheesecakes to 29 distributors and sells pies directly on its Web site.
South Tampa fans of Mike's Pies still will be able to indulge while sipping coffee just a few blocks south. The Junction, at 4004 S MacDill, remains an official retail outlet. Martin said with the closing of the main store, the company plans to add more outlets. The key lime pies also are sold at area Sweetbay stores.
The company's other retail store, at 17693 N Dale Mabry in Lutz, will remain open.
Upscale Italian dining in a converted coin laundry lasted only four months at the corner of S Howard Avenue and Platt Street. Bernardo's Ristorante and Lounge, opened in January by familiar Tampa restaurateur Bernardo D'Agostino, closed abruptly last month.
But D'Agostino isn't going away. Instead, he has brought in two partners to help him revamp the unassuming building.
One of them, Giovanni Benedetti, said the restaurant at 2221 W Platt St. should reopen in early July as the SoHo Tavern. Tony Friel, area franchise owner of Moe's Southwest Grill, is the other partner and will be majority owner.
The idea is to bring D'Agostino's food to a bar atmosphere, Benedetti said. A decade ago, D'Agostino was well-known in Tampa for the sandwiches at his Focaccia Mia restaurant — those sandwiches will be a centerpiece of SoHo Tavern lunch and dinner menus.
While Bernardo's was more high-end Italian, the tavern menu will feature more casual food with gourmet ingredients, such as burgers, wraps, salads and D'Agostino's fried macaroni and cheese bites.
"We're still fine tuning (the menu), but for the most part, it's better bar food in a neighborhood tavern setting — with an Italian flair," Benedetti said.
Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call (813) 226-3394 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.