PALMA CEIA — Bulgarian body builder Ivan Nikolov has long prepared meals specific to his dietary requirements.
But it hasn't always tasted good.
"After years of drinking my food and eating bland chicken and broccoli," says Nikolov, "I decided to put my protein in a muffin, first for myself and then to sell."
Since 2009, Nikolov and his wife Silvia have sold nutritionally-enhanced baked goods in their Seminole Heights bakery. On Aug. 17, they expanded the operation, opening Viitals Healthy Gourmet Cafe in a retail plaza on S Dale Mabry Highway near Henderson Boulevard.
There, a hypoallergenic vegetarian and vegan menu features those muffins and cupcakes, plus smoothies and five paninis.
Baked goods are prepared fresh daily in the Seminole Heights bakery. Only natural sweeteners, such as organic coconut palm sugar, are used, Nikolov said.
"Everything is free of seven of the eight major food allergens,'' he said, listing gluten, soy, eggs, dairy, peanuts, fish and shellfish.
Muffins, which cost $3.70 each, are made with olive oil, flax seed and 15 grams of protein, range from chocolate chip to banana split and chocolate raspberry. Cookies, cupcakes and sweet breads with 5 grams of added protein start at $2.
Viitals Waters, despite their names —Bloody Mary, pina colada and blueberry mojito —are non-alcoholic mixtures of coconut water and organic fruits to maintain electrolyte balance.
A European style espresso bar features coffee, flavorings and milk that are all organic.
Viitals Healthy Gourmet Cafe, 1155 S Dale Mabry Highway, is open daily. Summer hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call (813) 443-4567 or visit viitals.com.
Miguel's expands with 'clubby' atmosphere
When the strip club next door to Miguel's Mexican Seafood and Grill was evicted last year, Miguel Rodriguez got excited about buying the building. He wanted to expand his space by adding an outdoor lounge and landscaped courtyard.
That purchase didn't work out, so he bought the doctor's office on the opposite side.
The expansion project was expected to be completed this week, he says. Guests will soon be "drinking margaritas and smoking cigars around the fire pit on couches in cool lighting."
The atmosphere starts out "dinner friendly," he adds, then turns "more clubby" on the weekends when Miguel's will stay open till 3 a.m."
Indoor enhancements include a new room for private parties of up to 10 people, two new bathrooms and booth seating that doubles capacity to about 230.
Menu changes, also coming soon, feature green poblano rice, refried black beans and white chili con queso. Kobe beef fajitas remain a speciality. Brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. offers several Mexican-style breakfast dishes.
Rodriguez bought the restaurant on Kennedy Boulevard at MacDill Avenue about 20 years ago with his wife, Patricia.
Miguel's Mexican Seafood and Grill, 3035 W Kennedy Blvd. is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Visit miguelscafe.com or call (813) 876-2587.
X Floral Salon invites you to the unusual
Mylez Edward chose the name X Floral Salon, he says, "because it expresses my design philosophy: unexpected, easy to remember and impossible to forget."
The shop near the intersection of S Armenia Avenue and Azeele Street boasts an unusual selection of gifts from $10 to $500, said Edwards. "Everything is custom made or hand selected." As examples, he cites parasols handmade in Paris, orchids flown in from Thailand and ivy topiaries sculpted on recycled metal.
Edward grew up in Jacksonville but has traveled the world designing retail spaces, boutiques and florals.
"I hand-picked South Tampa,'' he says, "for its celebration of the entrepreneurial spirt.
"I hope they like me as much as I like them.''
X Floral Salon 2602 W Azeele St. is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday hours will begin in October. Call (813) 872-7500 or xfloralsalon.com.
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