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Urban Cantina heads to Howard; shop for deals at Thrifty Gifts; Outdoor Impressions helps 'Yard Crashers'

It's not the Bermuda Triangle. It's the busy corner of Platt Street and Howard Avenue where Urban Cantina plans to serve tacos and authentic Mexican specialities accompanied by beer and wine, sangria and margaritas.

"I think this will draw a dinner crowd while downtown does more of a lunch business," said owner Chris Rivas.

But the site at Platt and Howard has a reputation for disappearing restaurants, housing five of them in five years: Mary Z Tampania Cafe, Jilly Jo's, Strings N Rings, Bric and the Hooker Tea Co., later renamed Infusions Lounge.

So what's different this time?

"We've got the food,'' said Rivas. "Everybody loves our Mexican food."

The restaurant will have the same menu as Urban Cantina's Madison Street location, Rivas said. He expects to seat about 75 diners when the remodeling is complete in mid April.

Urban Cantina, 223 S Howard Ave. will be open 11 a.m. to midnight. Visit

Thrifty Gifts finds possibilities

Sandy and Christopher Hutchko hunted yard sales and auctions last year, buying and selling items on the Internet to augment their income.

On Feb. 2, the Riverview couple opened Thrifty Gifts, offering new, used and consignment goods on S Dale Mabry near El Prado Boulevard.

"We started collecting things about a year ago and it began to get a bit overwhelming at home,'' Sandy Hutchko said.

She is a dental assistant. He is an officer for the Bradenton Police Department, specializing in military and law enforcement collectibles for the store.

"We work here on our days off so we can be open six days a week,'' Sandy said. "It's a little hectic, but it's fun."

Household items are most popular, such as candles, lamps, vases, dishes, pots and pans.

"A lot of things are brand new in the box that we get from storage auctions,'' she said.

Designer labels on clothes, jewelry and handbags include Coach, Dooney & Bourke, DKNY and Prada.

"People find even the high end items affordable," she said. "We really want to help the community. Times are tough for everyone right now."

Thrifty Gifts, 3422 S Dale Mabry Highway, is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday. Visit or call (813) 831-4438 (GIFT).

Company helps 'Yard Crashers'

The DIY Network will soon feature the creative work of Outdoor Impressions. The producers of Yard Crashers hired owner Jason Smith for two $50,000 makeovers, filming as one backyard in South Tampa was transformed and another in Riverview.

The episodes are scheduled to air May 16 and 22.

Smith, who has owned the Valrico company for 11 years, will open a Palma Ceia branch in the next month. Services include landscaping and installing lighting, brick pavers, fire pits and tiki huts.

"Outdoor kitchens are 30 percent of our business,'' he said. "I noticed the importance of a physical showroom for clients to see and experience the features offered."

When completed, "it will be like a model home where customers come to make product and color selections."

For now, Outdoor Impressions, 3404 W Bay to Bay Blvd., is open by appointment. Visit or call (813) 684-6817.

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

Urban Cantina heads to Howard; shop for deals at Thrifty Gifts; Outdoor Impressions helps 'Yard Crashers' 02/23/12 [Last modified: Thursday, February 23, 2012 3:30am]
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