SOUTH TAMPA — The little green trailer became a big hit not long after Saravana "Pat" Bhava rolled it up to a street corner near MacDill Air Force Base in 2007 and started dishing out Indian food. The prices — and the smells — at the trailer he called Tun-Du-Ree lured in the military personnel and many others.
It wasn't long before Bhava opened a second location, also tiny, of Tun-Du-Ree on Henderson Boulevard. But Bhava really wanted to have a place where his customers could sit down for a nice dinner. So, last month he closed both locations and opened a new one at 1506-B W Kennedy Blvd.
The trailer is still there, but has been taken over by a family serving Spanish food. Bhava, who spent 13 years in the Indian Navy, said he left it with a "heavy heart."
"The trailer was making me more money than I could ask for, but I kind of grew out of it," he said. "I ran out of stuff every day. We had to move into a bigger space.
"The people from the base, they are just changing their routine a little more — they're going to do dinner."
The new Tun-Du-Ree seats about 10 to 15 inside, 20 to 35 on a patio, and has 19 parking spaces. It was the best Bhava could find in his budget. His priority, he said, was keeping prices low. All entrees are $6.99 or less and Bhava said he even dropped prices on many of his items.
Tun-Du-Ree also offers delivery within about a 4-mile radius, for a service charge to offset the price of gas. Bhava's Web site is www.tunduree.com. Restaurant hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
More room at Rigatoni
Rigatoni's Tuscan Oven has made a lot of fans since it opened 10 years ago, and many of them for years have begged owners Sonia and Rick Barcena for a private dining area for parties.
They got their wish recently. The Barcenas bucked the trend by many businesses to downsize, opening a 30-seat banquet room to customers. They turned part of the second building on their property, which had previously been occupied by tenants, into a banquet room for private dining and celebrations.
"There were a lot of clients that were looking for banquet facilities, and we never had a place to put them," Sonia Barcena said. "We always would do off-premise events. Now we have something for those people wanting to do something more quaint and personal."
The restaurant at 3437 W Kennedy Blvd. also offers a full bar for the first time and has been listed by the NFL as an approved vendor for February's Super Bowl. Before moving to Kennedy in 2004, Rigatoni had spent five years downtown.
Cuts, color for less
Another sign of the times has popped up at 726 S Dale Mabry, where what once was a travel agency (now predictably out of business) has been replaced by a low-priced hair salon.
Owners and sisters Yuppa and Supap Smith have seen chains like Great Clips and Supercuts do a brisk business and wanted to offer an alternative to those looking to pay less. Last month they opened Kuts Hair Salon, where walk-ins are welcome and haircuts generally cost $14.
"With the economy like it is, we wanted to offer a nice atmosphere and a good haircut," Yuppa Smith said. "We want to have that customer flow, but not with the same factory feeling."
Yuppa Smith said her salon also offers organic color and products. Full highlights start at $75. Hours at Kuts are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and Saturdays 9 to 6.
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