Tuesday, May 22, 2018
Business

Downtown Tampa to expand its late-night eats with opening of Pita Pit

Downtown Tampa's lean late-night restaurant scene is getting a boost in the form of chicken souvlaki pitas and Philly steak sandwiches.

Andrew and Tom Turek are opening a Pita Pit this week along Twiggs Street near Franklin Street. What's noteworthy? It plans to stay open most days until 4 a.m. — nearly 12 hours after the office workers pack up and leave.

While downtown Tampa has much improved its nightlife, it still doesn't have an abundance of post-midnight munchies beyond the Taco Bus and chips at the Hub. Finally, the Tureks believe the area can sustain more.

The brothers hope to duplicate the success of their other Pita Pit a few miles away on S Howard Avenue. Opened in 2008, the location ranks fourth nationwide in terms of revenue, Andrew Turek said. Late-night customers account for about 30 percent of sales.

To augment business from downtown, the Pita Pit will offer late-night delivery to Ybor City, especially bar patrons and employees. They'll re-evaluate hours in three or fourth months, but Turek said he's fairly certain they will stick.

The Tureks considered expanding to Ybor but wanted downtown's busy lunch crowd and had help building out the space. The owners of the building are big fans of Pita Pit, which has about 350 locations nationwide and in Canada, mostly near college campuses.

Hours will be 9:30 a.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday and until midnight on Sunday and Monday.

• • •

Lee Roy Selmon obviously loved the University of South Florida. Apparently, he also loved chicken and waffles.

For years, Selmon wanted the sinfully tasty dish on the menu of his namesake restaurant. Now, about a year after his passing, it's there.

The restaurant chain added chicken and waffles last week as part of a campaign to raise money for USF's new program, Mentoring U Selmon Style. Now through Nov. 1, a buck from every order of chicken and waffles and other signature menu items will go toward helping student athletes.

The dish heads up the restaurant's fall menu, which debuts next week and also has soft pretzels with a beer cheese sauce and meatball skewers. While not new to most foodies, chicken and waffles seems to be all over town, from Ciro's and Cafe Dufrain to Ella's and Three Birds Tavern, to name a few. It won't win any nutrition awards, but if Selmon liked it, it's gotta be pretty good.

• • •

If you've been shopping for Halloween costumes, you know they aren't cheap. Add the fake blood, matching shoes and other must-have accessories, and the cost might scare a ghost.

So it's no surprise that consumers are expected to spend an average of $79.82 on Halloween decorations, costumes and candy, according to recent survey by the National Retail Federation. That's up from $72.31 and amounts to $8 billion nationwide.

• • •

Thinking Mexican before the Halloween sugar buzz? Head to Chipotle for BOOrito night. Come dressed in a costume any time after 4 p.m. on Halloween, and you'll score a burrito, bowl, salad or tacos for just $2. Snap a photo of yourself in a costume at one of the restaurants and submit it to chipotle.com/boorito for a chance to win up to $2,500.

• • •

Get ready for the onslaught of holiday markets. Periwinkles at the Cottage and the adjacent Julie's Cottage in Largo kick off the shopping frenzy with the Holiday Marketplace this Friday and Saturday.

The free outdoor event will have more than 30 local vendors selling holiday decor, shabby chic furniture, handmade jewelry, food and more. The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days at 13128 Indian Rocks Road.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110.

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