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Ragin' Sports Grill roars into the Channel District; Ceviche expands in new SoHo spot; Taco Bus opens on Franklin; Botanica International triples in size

Taco Bus owner Rene Valenzuela unveils his new restaurant Tuesday at 505 Franklin St. in the heart of downtown Tampa. The “bus” seats about 50 inside and another dozen outside.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

Taco Bus owner Rene Valenzuela unveils his new restaurant Tuesday at 505 Franklin St. in the heart of downtown Tampa. The “bus” seats about 50 inside and another dozen outside.

CHANNEL DISTRICT — You can bet they'll be watching the Super Bowl at Ragin' Sports Grill, while eating grilled chicken, ribs and burgers.

Jim Cheatham, the restaurant's founder, opened Wednesday in the Channel District, the third location in the chain and the first with a full service bar and sports theme. The first two Ragin' Grills opened last year, at 1719 W Kennedy Blvd. and 9100 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg.

A large, circular bar, dubbed the Cab Calloway Red Zone, centers the 200-seat restaurant, named for former NFL player Chris "Cab" Calloway, a partner in the business. Memorabilia from his career is on display. More than 22 televisions line the walls, including a 120-inch projection screen.

Ragin' Sports Grill, at 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Delivery is available within 3 miles. Call (813) 223-9000.

Ceviche's back in a new location

New location, new hours, "same energy, same great food,'' said Ceviche owner Joey Orsino, 29, describing the restaurant's fifth location. Ceviche reopened Jan. 17 in the former Circles restaurant near the intersection of Azeele Street and Armenia Avenue.

"We closed out the old place on S Howard Avenue on New Year's Eve, right on schedule,'' Orsino said. Extensive renovations opened the dining room to the bar area, added a stage for live entertainment six nights a week and turned an adjacent pottery studio into a private party room for up to 100 guests.

Nightlife hovers around a fountain on the landscaped patio. The kitchen stays open late; happy hour specials are poured from midnight to 3 a.m.

Previously only open for dinner, Ceviche adds a lunch service starting Monday.

The dinner menu features 110 traditional Spanish tapas items, including Orsino's favorite, tuna ceviche. On Tapas Tuesday, sangria and 30 kinds of tapas are $4 each.

Ceviche, at 2500 W Azeele St., will start serving weekend brunch beginning Sunday and will open daily at 11 a.m., closing at midnight Sundays and Mondays, and at 3 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Visit ceviche.com or call (813) 250-0203.

Taco Bus opens on Franklin Street

"I've been dreaming of this for many years,'' said Rene Valenzuela, at the opening of his third Taco Bus location earlier this week.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn snipped the red ribbon wrapping the Franklin Street facade, and admired the yellow metal school bus replica nailed outside to remind diners of the restaurant's beginnings. For years, Valenzuela drove an old school bus equipped with a kitchen, taking taco orders through the window.

The tidy storefront "bus" seats about 50 in wood booths and on stools, plus another dozen at outside tables. A separate window handles pickup of online and telephone orders.

The menu is identical to the first two Taco Buses, which are located on E Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa and on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. Made-from-scratch tacos, burritos and tostadas can be stuffed with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or tempeh, all under 10 bucks.

Fan favorites include ceviche, braised beef (barbacoa), butternut squash tostadas and cochinita pibil tacos, marinated pork made the ancient Mayan way.

Beer is coming soon; catering is available now.

Taco Bus, 505 Franklin St., is open Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday, closing Sunday at 9 p.m.; visit tampatacobus.com or call (813) 397-2800.

Botanica triples in size

Botanica International, the award-winning floral and evening design company owned by Ian Prosser, is scheduled to move to a building three times the size of its current Henderson Boulevard location next week.

"We outgrew our space, happily so,'' said Prosser, who is also adding a new division that will cater to the luxury wedding industry. Botanica has 11 on staff, "plus lots of freelance help," as needed.

The new design center on Cypress Street near Rome Avenue is easy to spot, thanks to a bright orange door.

"Very Tory Burch," quipped Prosser.

Prosser's designs have been seen at numerous corporate and charity events, including the 2001 inauguration of George Bush and several Pavilion galas at Tampa Museum of Art. Next month, he will be involved with a benefit for the Children's Cancer Center's 2012 Calendar for a Cause.

Botanica International Design Studio will open at 1713 W Cypress St. Visit botanicaflorist.com or call (813) 831-0965.

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

Ragin' Sports Grill roars into the Channel District; Ceviche expands in new SoHo spot; Taco Bus opens on Franklin; Botanica International triples in size 01/26/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 26, 2012 3:30am]

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