CHANNEL DISTRICT — Just 5 years old and already getting a facelift, Channel District nightclub Aja reopens this week as the Epic UltraLounge.
"It was time to start all over," said Robert Solomon, owner of the two-story, 12,000-square-foot club at the base of the Towers of Channelside. "When we opened, nobody was living here. Now Channelside is pretty much sold out and we actually have a community."
Look for an expanded upstairs dining area tied to the lower level by a glass railing. There's a new color palette, new furniture, new mosaics, new lighting. Behind the stage, where national and local DJs and bands play, hangs a gigantic LED screen bigger than a pickup truck, visible throughout the venue.
Two outside decks have been combined with the raising of the lower tier. The new outdoor bar is outfitted with custom steel and wood furniture.
"Everything is different," Solomon said. "It's not anything you'd expect to see in Tampa. There's a strong LA feel."
Chef Dave Michael is introducing a new menu of gourmet small plates ranging from salmon tartar and charcuterie to tempura dogs, polenta fries and blue corn crab cakes, plus calamari, pizza and paninis. There's a new mixologist on board, and eight artisanal beers on tap. Happy hour will start soon, at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
Epic UltraLounge, 290 S Meridian Ave.; hours vary depending on the night, call (813) 223-5829 for more information.
Hyde Park gets Chic new beauty addition
Hyde Park's newest full-service hair and beauty salon, Chic Image Lounge, opened April 16 on Platt Street near S Boulevard.
By full service, owner Liz Burns means all kinds of amenities are done in one place: hair styling, manicure, make-up artistry, eyelash extensions, massage and more.
Burns, daughter of a cosmetologist, is a licensed esthetician who moved to Florida about five years ago to work with her sister, who owns cosmetology schools. Prior to "pursuing my own dreams," said Burns, she traveled and trained extensively in the skin care industry.
"The beauty lounge concept is better known in Europe and Asia," she said. "It's one place to relax and get efficient, effective beauty treatments using very upscale, sustainable products."
Chic Image Lounge, 813 Platt St.; is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Visit chicimagelounge.com or call (813) 254-2442.
Artwork from Cuba comes to Ybor gallery
If he had the space, lawyer Manuel Fernandez would keep all the oil paintings he brings back from Cuba.
Instead, he and Ybor developers Joe Capitano Sr. and Alan Kahana, along with Florida Produce owner Mike Mauricio, opened Habana Arts gallery in the heart of Ybor City.
"We talked about it for more than a year," said Fernandez. The Office of Foreign Assets Control authorized their travel to Cuba to purchase art to resell in the United States.
"I just came back with 20 new pieces," said Fernandez, "emerging artists so these are affordable for the average person."
Making money is not the goal, he said. "It's hard enough to part with the art. We want to bring back some of the Havana culture and connection that Tampa lost years ago."
Havana Arts, 1923 Seventh Ave., is open by appointment only. Call (813) 786-5445.
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