TAMPA — The newly opened Red Elephant Cafe is the lone restaurant in the eight-store chain to have "cafe" in its name.
"The others in the Red Elephant chain have pizza or grill in the name," said general manager Kris Maronpot. "But we're so much more."
The 75-seat restaurant opened Monday in a retail strip near Kinko's at the intersection of S Dale Mabry Highway and Kennedy Boulevard.
No single type of cuisine defines the menu, Maronpot said, "unlike most fast casual restaurants."
Four soups are made daily, including his favorite, tomato basil.
"I'm always asked for the ingredients," Maronpot said. "But I'll only give out one per visit — and there are like 15.''
Hearty salads, burgers, sandwiches and rice bowls topped with chicken or steak highlight lunch and dinner options. Pizza dough and sauce are made on site. Beer and wine are available, and 100 flavors of soda flow from a Coca-Cola freestyle fountain.
"This is the epitome of what a cafe meant to me and my partners,'' Maronpot said, anticipating an artistic sense of community. Authors will be invited to read their works and a poetry slam would be welcome. Musicians will entertain on the first Saturday evening of every month. Clubs may gather in a side area, with seating for 20 or 25 people.
The artwork on display now, all favoring red elephants, comes from current and former Ringling College of Art and Design students. The selection will rotate quarterly, and some pieces may be auctioned for charity.
Don't forget the elephant ears.
"Who doesn't love fresh, homemade sweet dough covered with butter, cinnamon and powdered sugar?" Maronpot asked. "It's an indulgence, a reward for eating healthy."
Red Elephant Cafe, 111 S Dale Mabry Highway, is open 11:15 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11:15 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Visit redelephantcafe.com or call (813) 443-5626.
Green Dwellers sells organic mattresses
The second Green Dwellers Organic Mattress store in Florida opened this week, specializing in natural latex and traditional innerspring mattresses free of fire-retardant chemicals. The latex comes from rubber trees grown without pesticides or carcinogens.
"Pillows, sheets, blankets, comforters, mattress covers, everything we sell is 100 percent organic,'' said Mylene D'Arelli, owner of the bedding boutique on Henderson Boulevard, west of Lois Avenue. "We are completely different from a conventional mattress store."
Demand, especially from people with chemical sensitivities, led D'Arelli, who lives in Plantation on Florida's southeast coast, to expand to the west coast. She has sold the nontoxic, nonallergenic bedding in Fort Lauderdale for four years.
"You won't find a cheap $500 mattress. Ours are wrapped in wool."
Green Dwellers also sells platform beds made from reclaimed wood, D'Arelli said. "They're really beautiful."
A grand opening celebration is planned Saturday and will feature special prices, raffle prizes and hors d'oeuvres.
Green Dwellers, 4343 Henderson Blvd., is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; noon to 7 p.m. Friday; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Call (813) 253-2337 or go to floridaorganicmattress.com.
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