Sara Fox decided to keep it simple when she opened her new catering company last month. There's no fuss, just food — and delivery, if you don't feel like stacking trays in your car.
"I don't have servers," Fox said. "It's mainly just the food. I can kind of cater to a niche in the population that wants catering but doesn't want all the hoopla that goes with it."
Her company, the Fox and the Fig at 2013 W Platt St., is a reiteration of a catering business she started several years ago in Berkeley, Calif., that she said mainly served the commercial and film industries. All the food is designed to be served at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Fox holds a master's degree in social work and public administration from Florida State, but what she really learned in Tallahassee was how to cook. About 10 years ago she helped a friend open Bella Bella, a still-popular casual Italian spot, and in the process she found her calling.
"I felt like cooking was sort of like social work, but in a (more) positive light for me," Fox said. "Sort of helping people feed their soul."
The Fox and the Fig's menu includes pasta and green salads, fruits and vegetables, boxed lunches, sandwiches and finger foods, and meat and seafood platters. The most popular item tends to be Fox's baby BLT biscuits, tiny buttermilk biscuits with Roma tomatoes, butter lettuce, bacon and mayonnaise.
Figs don't appear on the menu, though they made it into the name because they are "just one of my most favorite things in the entire world," Fox said with a laugh. The Fox and the Fig is open 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday. The menu is available at www.thefoxandthefig.com.
Whitney moves in
It has already made a name for itself in the Tampa Bay market by acquiring three small banks and sponsoring a posh club at Tropicana Field. Now the New Orleans-based Whitney National Bank has decided to open an office in Hillsborough County.
The bank, which elbowed its way into the Tampa Bay market by snapping up Madison Bank, First National Bank and Signature Bank in recent years, will open a small office next week at 4010 W Boy Scout Blvd.
The branch will not have a drive-through or — at least at first — an ATM, although it may add one later, said Eric Obeck, president of the Tampa market.
"It's more geared toward commercial banking and private banking," Obeck said.
"Most of those transactions, we go to the clients versus them coming to us."
Whitney has nearly $11-billion in assets (about $1-billion in the Tampa Bay area) and plans to expand further with more branches in Hillsborough County, Obeck said. The bank has expanded rapidly in recent years and has a presence along much of the Gulf Coast.
Juice dries up
Even the smoothie business is not going so smoothly these days.
The Jamba Juice location at Neptune Street and Dale Mabry Highway closed last month, not long after its parent company announced plans to trim costs and close several underperforming stores around the country.
Jamba Inc. announced in May its plan to close 10 stores and terminate seven signed leases for unbuilt stores. A recent press release said the company closed eight stores on July 15.
Company officials did not return calls last week asking whether the South Tampa location, in the same plaza as Cold Stone Creamery and Moe's Southwest Grill, was an independent franchise or one of the company-owned stores that was shut down.
Jamba Juice, which has more than 700 locations around the country, is "continuing to explore opportunities to reduce costs and prudently manage its balance sheet," the company said in a statement.
The other two Tampa Jamba Juice locations are near USF and in New Tampa.
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