CITRUS PARK — The name on the sign says "House of Beer," but it's another spirit that has people talking about a new bar opening in Citrus Park.
In addition to the 40 taps of beer being served at the soon-to-be-opened Citrus Park House of Beer, there will also be six wines.
It's a popular practice in California, but serving wine out of kegs or by the tap had been illegal in Florida. A recent legislative change lifted the ban. When the Citrus Park House of Beer opens in early February, it will be one of the few bars in the area to sell wine on tap.
"You open a bottle of wine and you have a couple days to finish it," said owner Michael Bell. "A keg keeps oxygen out, therefore keeping wine fresh for up to 60 days."
By selling wine on tap, customers will have a chance to sample it before committing to a full glass. It's just one of the things Bell hopes will set his new bar apart from the rest.
The Citrus Park House of Beer marks the fourth location in the state. Andy Polce and Rick Clemo opened the first HOB in Dunedin and later opened a Palm Harbor location. There is also a Gainesville House of Beer. The Citrus Park location is the first to be franchised.
"You have the brand support from them and how to get it up and running," Bell said about his relationship with Clemo and Polce. "But I can make it my own."
Bell met Polce and Clemo while running his RV-outfitting business. The idea of running a bar seemed like a dream to Bell. When the opportunity to sell his RV business arose, he decided to make his dream happen.
"I turned 50," said Bell, an Odessa resident. "When 50 hit, I figured it's time to do something that I want to do. I wanted to have fun."
Bell set out on a cross country tour of more than 100 tap houses to determine the good, the bad and the ugly of the bar business.
The result is Citrus Park House of Beer. In addition to a steady rotation of seasonal craft brews, the bar will also serve gourmet small plates. The bar's general manager is Jeremy Denny, former Jackson's Bistro chef.
Instead of the classic chalkboard menu of offerings found in craft beer bars, Citrus Park House of Beer will have two television screens showcasing beer selections along with descriptions of taste, alcohol content and the type of glass it's served in. When a new beer is introduced, the television menu will be updated.
"We want to always keep it fresh," Bell said.
In addition to serving beer and food, the bar will offer beer education classes.
"We want to take the novice and educate them," Bell said.
Citrus Park House of Beer will be at 8552 Gunn Highway in Odessa. It will be open Monday through Thursday from 2 p.m. to 2 a.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
New spa focuses on those aching feet
A collective exhale is heard from the high heel wearers of Tampa Bay, thanks to Sunshine Foot Spa in Carrollwood, which opened in November.
The spa, at 13909 N Dale Mabry Highway, offers a variety of massage services, but places a special emphasis on the feet. The ancient technique of reflexology is used to tackle tired tootsies.
The method operates off the principle that there are reflexes and points in the feet and hands that refer to other parts of the body, including the heart and digestive system. By triggering these points in the feet and hands, you can remedy problems found in other parts of the body. When used in a foot massage, it can also relieve pain.
"There were no foot spas in Tampa," said Sunshine Foot Spa owner Larry Liu. "I saw a need."
Liu moved to the United States from China 10 years ago. Before moving to Florida three years ago, he lived in Seattle. Foot spas and reflexology were very popular on the West Coast, Liu said.
"It is so welcome in China," Liu said. "People love it in California."
Inside the foot spa is a tranquil oasis. The rooms are dimly lit and plush eggplant-colored chairs await those getting hand and foot massages.
Business has been slow but steady at Sunshine Foot Spa. The standout favorite so far is the foot massage, Liu says. It starts with a hot water, salt-and-rose petal soak. A masseuse then incorporates reflexology and soothing strokes targeting problem areas in the feet. A blanket of hot towels over the feet and legs finish off the experience.
Foot massages are offered in 30-minute and 90-minute session at Sunshine Foot Spa. Private rooms are reserved for the full-body massages, also offered at the spa.
Sunshine Foot Spa is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.