After graduating from the University of Tampa in May 2016, AJ Albrecht spent four months traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia.
He visited five different countries, sampling a variety of interesting foods along the way. This once-in-a-lifetime trip, combined with his love of cooking, inspired him to open his own business, AJ's Kitchen Drawer.
"Everything here is one of a kind," said Albrecht, owner and manager. "We make it as we go and display it."
AJ's Kitchen Drawer offers a wide variety of unique kitchenware items, such as handcrafted knives and wooden items, as well as local gourmet products.
"I just really love to cook," Albrecht said. "Everything here has been tested and approved by me."
The wooden products offered are handmade in a local woodworking shop, using wood that comes from Albrecht's family farm in his native Wisconsin. Popular items include cutting boards and serving boards which can be custom made in any shape and size and then engraved. Albrecht said that many realtors have been coming in to purchase these as customized gifts for their clients. Gift baskets and wrapping are also available.
AJ's Kitchen Drawer offers 100 percent handcrafted knives.
"We cut the steel out ourselves, did the seven step process of aligning the blade, and did all the handle work," Albrecht said.
Other items available include copper cookware, kitchenware, candles, cookbooks, gourmet sauces, and an olive oil bar. A large selection of holiday items will be available soon. Also, Albrecht plans to begin holding cooking demonstrations and classes.
AJ's Kitchen Drawer is located next to Cuban Breezes at 13984 W Hillsborough Ave. It is open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. It is closed on Monday. For more information, call (813) 328-4122, or visit Facebook/ajskitchendrawer.com.
Charter school looks to excel at mall
A new charter school recently opened in Hillsborough County for the 2017-2018 school year.
Excelsior Prep Charter School is a tuition free, public school that is located inside the University Mall.
"It's a very unique space," said Rosalyn Williams Palmer, principal. "We have great support from the District in terms of being a new charter this year."
Excelsior Prep offers Kindergarten through 5th grade, and there are still seats available for enrollment. The school places an emphasis on learning foreign languages.
"Every student will be immersed in a second language for sixty minutes per day," said Palmer. "In addition to Spanish during the day for sixty minutes, we offer Mandarin and Arabic during our extended day care, which our after school is programming."
The school's bell times are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. with an early release time of 2 p.m. on Mondays. Morning care begins at 7 a.m. and after school care is available until 6 p.m. Uniforms are required for all students and are color coordinated by grade level.
Excelsior Prep Charter School is located at 2156 University Mall, #260-262. For more information, call (813) 644-9060, or visit excelsiorpreptampa.com.
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