BRANDON — Walter "Tibby" Tabony was the kind of guy who understood what it meant to be from the Big Easy, even if his life wasn't.
The New Orleans native lived in the city's Ninth Ward until Hurricane Katrina devastated the area in 2005.
The family moved him to Florida, and Tabony died at 93 in 2008, one season before his beloved Saints won the Super Bowl.
Brian Wheeler, founder of Tijuana Flats, honored his great uncle in 2011 by opening Tibby's New Orleans Kitchen in Central Florida. Now Wheeler brings the first Tibby's to Tampa Bay with a location slated to open in Brandon this spring at 1721 Brandon Blvd. in the former Ichiban Buffet site.
"I always wanted to do Louisiana/New Orleans food the right way," said Wheeler, who indicated the food centers around flavor, not spice. "I was always disappointed when I went to those places who claimed to do that type of food and it wasn't even close."
While the Brandon Tibby's is the third overall, Wheeler said he has no plans to turn the concept into a chain.
Diners can expect to sample the likes of Cajun shrimp pasta, jambalaya, gumbo and chicken pontchartrain. Tibby's offers three kinds of pastas and bread made from the famed New Orleans Gambino's Bakery.
Wheeler said because of the success he has seen in the Brandon area with his Tijuana Flats brand, he wanted to share his N'awlins concept locally as well. Expect a neighborhood atmosphere, complete with live jazz.
Visit tibbys.com to download a full menu, connect on Facebook to learn more about Tibby's namesake.
Times correspondent Eric Vician
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