BRANDON — On a sweltering summer day, a chilly 800-square-foot room packed with lagers and pilsners from around the world must seem like heaven to a beer lover.
Route 60 Liquor has seen steady business since it opened on Memorial Day, owner Austin Blake said. And its huge walk-in beer cooler — kept at a steady 35 degrees and dubbed "the Famous Beer Cave" — is just one of the reasons.
"We do have one of the largest selections of imports and craft beers in the area," Blake said, "but one thing that really sets our store apart is that we're 100 percent dedicated to customer service. Every single person who walks in the door is greeted, and we have as many as three people on the floor at any time."
The store's customers have also told Blake that they appreciate the attention to decor, which gives the store an upscale ambience that not too many liquor stores have.
"People have described it as modern and retro at the same time," he said.
Besides that huge selection of beer, Route 60 Liquor carries a wide selection of wines, liquor and cigars in all price ranges.
At least twice a month, the store will host wine and liquor tastings, with representatives from different vintners and distillers offering samples. A tasting is scheduled from 5 until 8 p.m. today and Saturday.
Route 60 Liquor is at 1015 W Brandon Blvd., near the Burlington Coat Factory. It's open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Call (813) 681-1431 or visit rt60liquor.com.
Cafe offers usual fare, plus Greek specialties
Chris Kamelaris and his family have spent their lives in the restaurant business. He grew up working in his parents' popular eatery, Anna's Restaurant in Plant City.
The family's latest venture is Sophia's Café, at 526 Oakfield Drive, just east of Kings Avenue.
Sophia's, which occupies the location formerly home to the Oakfield Café, offers a lot of Greek specialties. Gyros, Greek salads and chicken souvlaki have been among the cafe's top sellers since Sophia's opened three months ago, Kamelaris said. The cafe also offers all the usual breakfast and lunch fare, from bacon and eggs to sandwiches.
The cafe has table and counter seating and also offers catering.
It's open 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call (813) 654-3388.
Mall eateries offer curbside takeout
Shopping malls are convenient when you're up for an afternoon of shopping, but they can be a hassle if you just want to pick up a to-go order from a favorite restaurant. You might have to park far away and then face a long trek through the mall just for a two-minute visit to pick up your dinner.
Westfield Brandon has introduced a new service called "Curbside to Go" that makes getting orders from mall restaurants easier. Customers call in orders, then drive to the designated parking area on the west side of the mall, near the food court. Once there, customers must call the restaurant again to let the staff know they're there, and someone will bring out the food.
Restaurants at Westfield Brandon that currently participate in Curbside to Go are California Pizza Kitchen, (813) 684-2375; the Cheesecake Factory, (813) 571-2872; Grillsmith, (813) 651-1610; Ruby Tuesday, (813) 685-2615; and Sinigual Contemporary Mexican Cuisine, (813) 684-3917.
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