There's pizza from the Windy City, bagels from New York and now tacos from California.
Charles Morrell, who owns California Tacos, has a lengthy culinary background, having spent 14 years traveling internationally with Disney on Ice in the concessions department and more than a decade opening gourmet sandwich and taco shops in California, Colorado and Mexico.
When he came to Florida seven years ago, Morrell said he tried to satisfy his "addiction" to steak burritos.
"I paid up to $14 for a good burrito and could not find a good fix," said Morrell, 51, a Brooklyn native.
Perceiving a wide-open market for fresh west-coast style Mexican fast food, Morrell opened California Taco in early March. He said business has been great.
While he wouldn't share all of his trade secrets, Morrell said California Taco has no steam table, and all the food is made to order. He also uses a small amount of cabbage for freshness and crunch, a tempura batter for the fish tacos and "special" sauce.
In addition to chili rellenos and ceviches, the store's most popular menu items are its tacos, which sell for $2.49 each. Guacamole, cheese and sour cream cost 50 cents more.
"We want everyone to taste the full flavor of our fully dressed tacos," he said.
Morrell said he was quick to choose the famous apex at Bearss Avenue and Skipper Road to house the new fast-food restaurant. The standalone building is visible, and close to the University of South Florida and area hospitals.
Located at 1450 Skipper Road, California Tacos is open 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. Morrell plans to expand operating hours to include Sundays and Mondays soon. For more information, call (813)971-8226.
Furniture store offers Amish craftsmanship
It's like stepping into the most diverse forest imaginable.
In each corner sits another prime example of the finest wood — ash, oak, maple, cherry, pine and more.
Royal Furniture recently opened in the Village Square East strip mall in Carrollwood with offerings including: entertainment centers ($775), dinning room tables ($699) and curio cabinets ($665). Vendors range from Amish Mills to Forest Designs.
"What makes us special is that all our furniture is real wood, made in the USA, no imports from China, no press board or medium density fiberboard," said Samir Pekusic, the store's general manager. "Our furniture is mainly handmade by Amish. If a customer cannot find a standard piece to fit their needs, we will custom build."
Royal Furniture is at 11743 N Dale Mabry Highway. Hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call (813) 908-7777.
Statue store relocates to N Dale Mabry
For those traveling along Gunn Highway, visions of Neptune, David and the Virgin Mary suddenly disappeared a short time ago.
After more than 12 years in the same location, owners of Stoneman's Statueland, a retailer of decorative concrete products, were evicted. Although the store owners said the rent at their business at 4103 Gunn Highway had always been paid on time, the lease was month to month. The building's owners were not required to provide a reason for eviction.
Store owners Stuart Pliskow, 49, and Fred Zichlin, 45, said they were shocked and devastated when they learned of the eviction.
"We thought if we'd have to move locations, with the current U.S.-economic situation, our longtime customers would assume we went out of business," Pliskow said.
The pair quickly went into action and secured a new location at 5626 N Dale Mabry Highway. Today, the likes of Ondine, cherub fountains and dove birdbaths sit alongside the highway.
Stoneman's inventory represents more than 30 manufacturers. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sundays.
For more information, contact the store at (813) 884-1912 or visit www.stonemansstatueland.com.
Know of a business that's just opened, closed or relocated? Contact reporter Sheryl Kay at email@example.com, or call (813)230-8788.