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Depth Perception and hookah lounge settle into Tampa

TAMPA — Divers of all skill levels will welcome Depth Perception to W Kennedy Boulevard, recently relocated from Brandon where it has sold and rented dive gear for 15 years.

Other available equipment includes regulators, buoyancy compensators and wet suits, as well as snorkeling gear.

"We moved in April to be a more central location for our customers," said Robert Lawrence, a recreational scuba instructor and resident of Plant City who began diving at age 19. He offers classes that range from open water to recreational and technical instructor levels, including Cave I and Cave II. Before the Florida Aquarium developed its own in-house training, Depth Perception provided its scuba services.

Every month, added Lawrence, members of the Reef Seekers Dive Club take off for aquatic adventures, to locales such as Key Largo and various springs in North Florida.

Lawrence and two other store owners, Jeffrey Duglass and Jackie MacLean, are authorized dealers of Atomic Aquatics, Oceanic and Bare Sports.

Depth Perception, 2008 W Kennedy Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Visit depthperception.com or call (813) 689-3483.

Hookah lounge settles in on MacDill Avenue

Le Souk Florida manager Hamada Ismail closely guards his secret recipes for flavoring tobacco in a new Interbay-area hookah lounge and wine bar.

"I make more than 100 flavors," Ismail said, listing jasmine, strawberry and coconut among the choices he adds to tobacco in a "head" or bowl carved out of a fresh apple or pineapple. In the Mideast tradition of smoking with a "hookah," or water pipe, clay or marble bowls usually hold the tobacco.

Owner Mohammed Bekiet opened the cafe July 20 on MacDill Avenue at Interbay Boulevard in the same retail shopping strip as Gengiz Khan, a restaurant featuring a Mediterranean menu.

"But we serve appetizers and drinks only — beer, wine, champagne and hard liquor," said Ismail. "We are not a restaurant." He moved to Tampa from New York but is originally from Egypt.

Bekiet recently returned to Tampa after a few years running hookah lounges in Miami and Manhattan.

Appetizers include hummus, baba ghanoush, stuffed grape leaves, moussaka, falafel and feta cheese pie. An assortment of each, called souk mezze, costs $18.95.

Belly dancers entertain on weekends, and live music is coming soon, said Ismail, adding that a private room may be booked for parties.

Specialty hot drinks include a variety of Egyptian teas: fresh mint, hibiscus, anise, cinnamon and aleppo, plus a caffeine-free sahlab. "It tastes like Egyptian custard," said Ismail.

Le Souk Florida, 6102 S MacDill Ave., is open noon to 3 a.m., Monday through Saturday; noon to 1 a.m. Sunday. Visit lesoukfl.com or call (813) 831-8811.

Opening date set for Fire Bar & Grill

After umpteen delays, Fire Bar & Grill is set to open its doors for dinner Aug. 3.

Co-owners Ryan Quinn and Carey Maynell anticipate a quiet, soft opening to launch the eclectic menu featuring fresh gnocchi made in-house daily. The fiery red interior opens to an outdoor covered patio at 3023 W Kennedy Blvd. Call (813) 870-3473.

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Depth Perception and hookah lounge settle into Tampa 07/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, July 26, 2012 4:30am]
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