RIVERVIEW — Winthrop Town Centre developer John Sullivan struck upon a winning formula when he began luring successful Tampa restaurants to his retail hub in Riverview.
Green Iguana, Acropolis and Cappy's Pizzeria all have enjoyed success since opening additional locations at Winthrop.
Now Sullivan hopes luring one of Tampa's most popular restaurateurs to Riverview can pay bigger dividends for his event facility.
Amy Moran, who has operated the burgeoning Wimauma in South Tampa with husband and chef, Gary Moran, now will manage the Winthrop Barn Theatre.
The facility hosts a variety of events including meetings, parties, theatrical productions and weddings. On Sunday, the Barn will hold a bridal show.
Moran, a seventh generation native of Tampa, brings a marketing background to her new role and already has added a permanent antique bar to the structure, which sits on a 150-year-old dairy farm. She also plans to add a full-service kitchen to the back of the Barn so food won't have to be transported.
"When I talked to John about it, I just thought, 'What a great opportunity,' " Moran said. "I worked for a food brokerage off of (U.S.) 301, so I was already familiar with the area."
Wimauma specializes in Southern cuisine and has earned critics' praise. Sullivan said the quality of its entrees drew him to crafting a deal with Moran.
"It's equal to Magnolias in Charleston, S.C.," Sullivan said.
But Moran stressed that while her restaurant will handle the catering, chef Gary's skills go far beyond Southern tastes. A former chief of food at Tavern On the Green in New York, Gary Moran spent time in the Big Apple catering for an array of events including many at foreign embassies. Amy Moran said he can prepare everything from Latin to sushi.
"There's no cuisine he can't provide," Moran said.
In addition to the events, Moran said she hopes to host cooking and food education classes at the Barn and an event that allows participants to go out foraging for salad ingredients. A major attraction will be a Yelp event in April that aims to draw members of the social networking site from around Tampa Bay.
Ernest Hooper can be reached at [email protected]