TAMPA — A restaurant at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park?
Count us in, say seven bidders who turned in proposals to City Hall by Monday's deadline.
The project would consist of renovating a 2,600-square-foot building overlooking the lawn at the popular downtown park. The prospects include some well-known Tampa names:
• Columbia Food Services
• Four Green Fields
• John Oraha, who said his Curtis Hixon restaurant would be similar to the City Dog Cantina he's had in the Channel District for six years
• Richard Calderoni at El Goya LLC, which operates the Hula Bay Club Waterfront Bar & Grille and Duke's Retired Surfer's Island Bar west of West Shore Boulevard and south of Gandy Boulevard.
• Bill Rain and Mark Newkirk
• Burton Holdings
The city released only the names of the bidders on Monday. Other details of the proposals are exempt from disclosure under Florida's public records law for 30 days unless the city announces its intention to award a contract sooner.
Columbia Restaurant owner Richard Gonzmart already has made two big investments along the Riverwalk — the Columbia Cafe, which he opened at the Tampa Bay History Center in 2009, and Ulele, which he opened at the northern end of the Riverwalk next to Water Works Park in 2014.
"My goal was to be at the beginning (of the Riverwalk), the end and in between," Gonzmart said in a recent interview. He described his idea as a "casual-type burger joint," though not a brand his company already has.
"I'm not going to be putting a Goody Goody there, but I have a plan for something," he said. "If they don't select us that means that they must have somebody who has a better vision than I do for what will work, and I'll support it."
Oraha said he believes his cantina's San Diego-inspired Mexican food "would be great for the events that they have there."
Calderoni said he proposes a Duke's Retired Surfer's Riverfront Restaurant, with a full sushi menu and coffee bar.
"It's one of the few riverfront spots that are actually available at this time," said Calderoni, whose businesses also have included the Green Iguana Bar & Grill and the Retreat in South Tampa. "I think we'd do a great job with the space."
On Friday, the city also received one proposal in response to a separate request: to put a restaurant on a busy corner next to the Tampa Convention Center.
The proposal came from Ronald Evans of Smuggler's Enterprises for a Harpoon Harry's Crab House.
Evans runs Harpoon Harry's Restaurant & Bar in Punta Gorda, which overlooks Charlotte Harbor and features seafood steamed, fried and on the half-shell, plus sandwiches, salads and crab cakes. He launched Smuggler's Enterprises in 1992 and opened Harpoon Harry's with a partner the following year.
The city has 10,000 square feet of space at the corner of S Franklin Street and Channelside Drive, where the Tampa Bay History Center was until 2009.
Mayor Bob Buckhorn says the market for new restaurants will get better and better as hundreds and eventually thousands of new apartments are built on the old Tampa Tribune site, on Harbour Island, in the Heights, in the Channel District and at the $3 billion project being planned near Amalie Arena by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment.
Contact Richard Danielson at [email protected] or (813) 226-3403. Follow @Danielson_Times