TAMPA — Al Pach, wearing a signature loud vest, would sit at the counter corner nearest the entrance and greet every regular by name. He was a fixture for years, since Pach’s Place was established in 1992. Pach died in 2005 but Pach’s Place lived on as a Tampa legend, drawing regulars like former mayor Dick Greco and radio personality Jack Harris.
At the end of January, however, Pach’s Place closed; the lease was up and the rent was too high. It reopened shortly thereafter on Dale Mabry Highway.
There was much speculation about what might become of the not-quite-waterfront restaurant space in the 1970s-era Bayshore Center, at 2909 W. Bay to Bay Blvd. On Wednesday, Jeannie Pierola, celebrated chef-owner of Edison: Food + Drink Lab, announced that she would be taking it over, launching a new concept called Counter Culture.
"When you’re a restaurant addict, you are always looking for what’s next," Pierola said. "I’m in love with restaurants, that’s my jam."
She had been looking for some time, evaluating notable Tampa spaces such as the old Colonnade building on Bayshore Boulevard. This wasn’t a perfect fit at first.
"I’ve known the landlord for a long time. At first, the landlord was saying, ‘Jeannie, you’re not thinking,’ and I know people are going to say, what on earth?"
She has taken the two bays occupied by Pach’s Place as well as the next two bays and part of the Bayshore Center lobby, with the aim of debuting the 3,700-square-foot Counter Culture in October.
"Pach’s had this iconic counter, and I want a counter that’s just as iconic. So we’re gutting the whole place and building a counter around the kitchen. It will be breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I want it to be the antithesis of Edison, which I consider a pub, a gastropub. But I hate that term."
Counter Culture will feature a full bar and a 14-foot wood-fired grill with different cooking stations including a wood-fired oven and cast-iron plancha. She anticipates a four-month build-out overseen by Chancey Design, and she aims to staff the restaurant with some new hires and some existing employees from Edison.
"People are going to be promoted and rise up," she said. "The most important thing with culinary staff is when you say ‘blue,’ they know the shade you mean."
This will be the first time Pierola has done breakfast, something she feels is lacking in South Tampa.
"I want to be the benchmark of the best breakfast in town. And I think this is the best location I’ve ever been associated with. It’s not waterfront, but there is this feel of water."
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.