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Quick service at Just Thai; coffee and music brewing at Burlap Cafe

PALMA CEIA — Just Thai wants customers to get their spring rolls, pad Thai and other popular Asian specialities as fast as possible.

Installing two touch-screen menu machines inside the restaurant will speed up service, says owner Clare Guluzian, who opened Just Thai in mid January in the South Town Plaza on Neptune Street, opposite Publix.

Tap, tap, tap, she demonstrated, scrolling through photos of appetizers, tom yum soup, entrees, desserts and beverages on the monitor.

With a click on the desired items and the swipe of a credit or debit card, a customer sends the order on its way to the kitchen.

"Fast and easy and delicious," said Guluzian. She and her family discovered the machines on a trip to Europe. The kids especially liked how the automation shortened waiting lines.

Of course, cash is also accepted, at the register where workers await those who don't want to use the machine.

"There are lots of Thai restaurants around, but we're quick-serve, like Chick-fil-A or Chipotle,'' said Guluzian. Entrees such as pad Thai, General Thai chicken and lemongrass noodle average $8, with a choice of chicken, shrimp, tofu or Angus beef. Wine and beer are available, including several Thai beers.

A former elementary school teacher in Toronto, Guluzian juggles running the restaurant with running a household that includes two sons attending Plant High and a daughter at Wilson Middle School.

Warning, says Guluzian, holding up a lime green to-go box with the words: Consumption may create dependency.

Just Thai, 3838 W Neptune St., is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Visit gojusthai.com or call (813) 898-2724.

Coffee, crepes at Burlap Café

World coffees, live acoustic music, local art, crepes and desserts — that's Jamie Salano's vision for the Burlap Café.

"As close to a traditional beatnik coffee shop as we can be,'' said Salano, an international fashion photographer who previously owned restaurants in Pennsylvania. He opened Burlap Café on Wednesday in a Hyde Park bungalow on Armenia Avenue between Cleveland and Platt streets in a former cigar bar.

"I want to make it a warm and special place, with incredible music, food and coffee," he said, gesturing at the fireplace full of flickering candles and the burlap coffee sack curtains that he made.

Patrons can grab a marker and express themselves on the wall.

There's no cover charge for the nightly entertainment, a roster of traveling troubadours — singers and songwriters — on the coffeehouse circuit. Indie musicians are welcome to contact Salano.

Fair trade coffee comes "farm fresh" from Costa Rica, Brazil, Colombia and Tanzania and other exporters. Salano roasts 3 pounds at a time in an antique-style roaster.

He'll even create custom blends of the beans and design personalized labels. "They can call me and I'll have them roasted and ready when they get here,'' he said.

While sipping espresso, latte or Indian spice chai, try the dinner crepes, $6.75, and dessert crepes, $5.75.

Salano makes his own cheesecake, peanut butter cake and muffins as well.

Burlap Café, 212 S Armenia Ave., is open from 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday to Thursday; and till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday. For entertainment updates, follow the Burlap Café on Facebook or call (352) 293-6174.

Share new business news with Amy Scherzer at ascherzer@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3332.

Quick service at Just Thai; coffee and music brewing at Burlap Cafe 02/02/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 2, 2012 3:30am]
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