Friday, April 20, 2018
Business

Castle Creole brings Haiti's French Caribbean cuisine to Brandon

BRANDON — The sign has hung outside Castle Creole on State Road 60 for three years, but owner Esther JeanBart wasn't able to turn it on until this month.

That's how long it took her to realize her dream of opening the French Caribbean cuisine restaurant that pays homage to her Haitian heritage.

She watched as Thorntons and Family Dollar constructed new buildings in a matter of months, bookending her and making her feel squeezed as an entrepreneur. Despite laboring on every detail between the floor tile and the ceiling crown molding to design a place that welcomes people with comfort food, and shedding a few tears along the way, JeanBart never wavered from her vision.

"I want to be the next Olive Garden, Caribbean-wise," said JeanBart, 35, who already has expansion visions for New York, Orlando and Atlanta among other places. "That's what the goal is. That's what I'm going to do."

Castle Creole had planned to open its doors at 435 E Brandon Blvd. but has now postponed those plans because of a family emergency.

JeanBart gave birth to three of her four children (Milano, 5, Bijou, 4 and Rome, 2) since moving to Brandon five years ago with her oldest child, Gianni 16. She grew up in Brooklyn where her parents, Alphonse and Marie raised nine children. Her mom and dad have been married 53 years and Alphonse continues to serve as a Baptist deacon.

She is the youngest of seven female siblings, most of whom attended her VIP tasting March 1 when she turned the restaurant sign on for the first time, along with her parents and colleagues she met since relocating to the area.

Photos of strong women hang in the dining room, including a prominent 16- by 20-inch depiction of her oldest sister, Genevieve, whom she also calls her mentor. JeanBart has hired a chef and kitchen staff that understands the word Creole doesn't mean crawfish etouffee and Louisiana bayou to her, but rather black rice and mushrooms with steamed conch — a popular dish in Haiti.

She sought calmness in Florida, but missed home cooking so she wanted to create an atmosphere where people in suits and ties or even flip-flops can stop in after work. Once they arrive, they can enjoy beer and wine while listening to Sade or Bob Marley in the dining room or live music on the 1,400-square-foot back patio that includes a fire pit.

"This is my home, my castle," said JeanBart, "and I have to treat it as my house or my castle. I am different."

Castle Creole initially plans to be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week. Check facebook.com/welcomehome castlecreole for hours, menus, live entertainment and catering.

Centra Care opens for patients in Riverview

Florida Hospital's newest addition to the Riverview community opened last month after construction of its new Centra Care facility was completed.

An emergency room alternative for urgent, nonlife-threatening medical care, the facility offers $25 flu shots, treats broken bones, infections, allergies and pediatric concerns as well as orthopedic conditions and stomach problems.

It is at 10222 Bloomingdale Ave. in front of Target and is open daily beginning at 8 a.m. You can make a no-wait reservation online at centracare.org or call (813) 515-5814.

If you know of something that should be Everybody's Business, email Eric Vician at [email protected]

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Castle Creole has postponed its grand opening until later this spring.

Comments
Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of 'online terrorism'

Owners say new house is a disaster; developer accuses them of 'online terrorism'

ST. PETERSBURG --- Stretched across the front of Tim and Hyun Kims’ two-year-old house is a big banner with the name of a developer and the words: "I have to fix my new house." Some of what needs fixing is instantly apparent. The front steps ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

Q&A: Walmart leader chats about Florida stores, and the chain’s latest retail strategy

The Tampa Bay Times recently sat down with Walmart director of corporate communications Phillip Keene to chat about the retail giant’s latest retail strategies and how the company is winning over customers in a competitive market.Already, two of the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Judge: Foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa violated numerous rules of conduct

Tampa Bay foreclosure defense lawyer Mark Stopa has violated numerous rules of professional conduct and caused two clients to nearly lose their homes because he failed to tell them about settlement offers from their banks. In preliminary findings of ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida unemployment at 3.9 percent for sixth straight month

Florida continues to coast with relatively low unemployment and modest job gains. In March, for the sixth straight month, the state’s jobless rate was 3.9 percent. Florida added 13,800 jobs over the month.Tampa Bay’s unemployment rate was 3.6 percent...
Updated: 4 hours ago
SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

SunTrust warns 1.5 million clients of potential data breach

Associated PressNEW YORK — SunTrust Banks Inc. says accounts for 1.5 million clients could be compromised following a potential data breach. The Atlanta bank says that it became aware of the potential theft by a former employee and that the investiga...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

Spring break, hurricane relief boosted Tampa Bay hotels in March

The Tampa Bay area’s hotel occupancy rate rose to 87.5 percent in March, the highest level in three years. The rise was fueled by spring break vacationers as well as insurance adjusters and hurricane cleanup crews flooding the state to restore it aft...
Published: 04/20/18
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

Marriott Edition to bring five-star hotel ambitions to Water Street Tampa

TAMPA — At the Gramercy Park Hotel in New York City, hotelier Ian Schrager transformed a Jazz Age building with its own rich history into a destination offering even more heady experiences — extravagant, edgy and bohemian.In Tampa, Schrager will have...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

Here’s your first look at what will be Riverwalk Place, Tampa’s tallest tower

TAMPA — Developers on Thursday detailed plans for what they touted as the tallest building on Florida’s west coast, with condominiums priced in six and seven figures and a shimmering glass design they say would stand out in the skylines of New York, ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Published: 04/19/18