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Burger 21 places in Top 100 list of fast casual restaurant brands

A Tampa-based burger chain fairly new to the scene has made the 2013 list of Top 100 Movers & Shakers among fast casual restaurants.

Burger 21 placed 22nd for its notable, non-beef selections in the "better burger'' field, from black bean to Ahi tuna and chicken parmesan burgers. Founded in 2010 by the owners of the Melting Pot, Burger 21 has seven locations in the Tampa Bay area, Orlando and Voorhees, N.J., and 17 in development in six states. The menu has 21 burgers, hot dogs, salads, hand-dipped milkshakes and sundaes.

First on the Top 100 list was Fazoli's, an Italian restaurant founded in 1988 in Lexington, Ky. It has 217 locations in 26 states but, surprisingly, only one in Florida, in Pensacola.

FastCasual.com puts out the list — now in its eighth year — to recognize fast casual brands leading the industry in growth and innovation. Fort Lauderdale-based Pizza Fusion, which has locations in downtown Tampa and Westchase, got a shoutout for having a 75-percent organic menu.

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Another local fast-casual favorite, Little Greek Restaurant is celebrating its nine-year anniversary by offering $6.99 chicken or gyro pita combos with french fries and a drink through Saturday. The chain has nine locations in the Tampa Bay area and another opening later this month in New Tampa at 19022 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.

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A few observations about the new Wawa stores popping up all over the place: The gas prices are low, and they don't charge a few pennies more per gallon when you pay with a nonstore credit card, like most convenience stores. While you're pumping gas, orders are called over the loud speaker: "Number 339, your toasted meatball hoagie is ready.'' "Number 345, your barbecue chicken quesadilla is ready.'' Depending on your hunger level, it's a pretty enticing way to lure you into the store.

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It's been almost a year since the Green Iguana closed its Dale Mabry location near Raymond James Stadium. Kuhn Honda demolished the site and posted a sign announcing a future car dealership but, so far, only weeds have taken over the property.

A company owned by Kuhn bought the site at 2522 N Dale Mabry Highway in June 2012 for $6.7 million, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser's website. Kuhn officials haven't returned calls about their plans. Kuhn also has a Honda and Volkswagen dealership at 3900 W Kennedy Blvd. in Tampa.

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Ikea in Tampa is having a Midsummer Smorgasbord on Friday to celebrate the Swedish summer holiday. This isn't your typical all-you-can-eat buffet with pastries, build-your-omelets and peeled shrimp. We're talking herring, poached salmon, hard boiled eggs, meatballs with lingonberries, Swedish cheeses and dill potatoes.

I find it amusingly ironic that the Swedish retailer puts on a party marking the longest day of the year, given it can take shoppers almost a day to walk through the store. I just hope putting together a plate of Swedish delicacies is easier than putting together one of Ikea's desks.

Tickets are $12.99 for adults and $4.99 for children 12 and younger. Ikea Family members pay $9.99 and $2.49. Seating times are 4 and 6 p.m. Space is limited, and customers are encouraged to buy their tickets in advance at the store, 1103 N 22nd St., Tampa.

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Overwhelmed with the beer choices at World of Beer? Try its new private label beer brewed exclusively for the bar called C'est la Vie!

Translation from French: "Such is life."

The Tampa-based chain of craft beer pubs partnered with the award-winning Bavik Brewery in Belgium. Marc Sawyer, director of brewery and distributor relations for World of Beer Franchising, said they wanted a beer that fit the World of Beer brand.

"It's a very approachable beer, yet has enough unique qualities to really stand out,'' he said.

It seems the name reflects the bar's pull-up-a-stool, try-a-new-beer attitude. It's available at all World of Beer locations throughout June.

Susan Thurston can be reached at sthurston@tampabay.com or (813) 225-3110.

Burger 21 places in Top 100 list of fast casual restaurant brands 06/10/13 [Last modified: Monday, June 10, 2013 10:46pm]
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