On the way home from a St. Augustine vacation Greg Gostomski, who retires from the U.S. Air Force as a master sergeant on July 31, began searching veteran-friendly restaurant concepts.
A few clicks later he stumbled upon Burgerim, a mini burger concept that was founded in Israel in 2011.
Within an hour he was on the phone with the franchise director and within 48 hours he found himself Skyping with the owner of the franchise....
WESTSHORE — A new kiosk inside Westshore Plaza brings back a popular style of the '80s and '90s: plastic jelly sandals.
"It's not the same quality you find in any other store," said co-owner Jonathan Nava. "The material they are made from is ecologically friendly."
The shoes, with sizes geared toward younger children, come in a variety of colors and many are infused with glitter....
TAMPA — In 1887, Tampa's first city hall existed only in a blueprint.
The Hillsborough County courthouse occupied the property where the Tampa police station stands today.
Freshly laid bricks formed the cigar factories opened two years earlier by Vicente Martinez Ybor and Ignacio Haya.
Henry Plant, who had called the city home during the past four years, was in the process of completing his South Florida railroad with Tampa as the railhead....
DAVIS ISLANDS — Islands Pizza and Islands Club owner John Harr is expanding his Davis Island territory to include a new Tex-Mex restaurant, Islands Cantina.
"I half-jokingly said I always wanted to own a Mexican restaurant so when this space became available next door, that's what I did," Harr said. "I started thinking about a place I'd want to hang out at and the competition down the street (Margaritas). I didn't want to be the same as them. They are more traditional Mexican. We're more comparative to Miguelito's or the Green Lemon."...
SOUTH TAMPA — While enrolled at Ridgewood High School, John Racener's buddy recognized his poker potential and set up Racener with an online poker account.
So see could start competing, his mother, Janeen Racener, provided his first buy-in: $50.
Last month, Racener won first place in the World Series of Poker's prestigious $10,000 buy in Dealers Choice Event and took home his first World Series of Poker bracelet — 13 years after he opened that first poker account....
Though Stacy's Gluten Free Goodies currently serves the areas of Carrollwood and South Tampa, owner Stacy Riffel's first customer was her 2-year-old son.
"When he turned 2, he started developing autistic like symptoms so we tested him for food allergies by recommendation of a doctor and it turned out he was allergic to gluten, dairy and eggs," Riffel said. "We started a journey to get him better and he started coming out of his fog little by little."...
SOUTH TAMPA — A mural depicting the face of a woman with long, flowing black hair, painted against bright pinks, yellows, purples and greens decorates the doors of a new business in South Tampa, located in the plaza behind Applebee's on Gandy Boulevard.
The mysterious mural gives no hint as to what sits behind those doors.
Even as customers stand at the reception desk, it's hard to see just how far back the 20,000 square-foot building extends....
Over a decade ago, Robert Pennino traded late nights in the music studio for early mornings in the Terrier Tri cycle studio.
Terrier Tri, a triathlon company which focuses on indoor cycling, is a concept founded in New York City in 2004.
"I'm from Tampa and having the studio in New York, I knew I wanted to bring the experience down here," said Pennino, the president of Terrier Tri. "Not only are you on a real bike, you're watching your avatar (based on your favorite color, hair and bike) as you ride. I can deliver the class based on heart rate, wattage, distance or speed. It's like a spin class in the sense that there's music, but it's a very measurable experience."...
YBOR CITY — Inside Cheezy's Bistro and Speakeasy, a new restaurant opening in Ybor City, customers will find a mix of family recipes, games and secrecy.
"I want it to be sort of like an adult Chuck E. Cheese's," Jaime DeCrisci, owner, said. "But it's in a mysterious, cool kind of building."
DeCrisci's attention to detail inside the building narrows down to each individual piece of plank wood, which was smoked to "get that certain look and smell."...
In Seminole Heights sits a tiny, yellow food truck sporting a black bow tie. Inside, customers will find Terrell Mitchell, the chef behind Bow Thai food truck, preparing dishes like chicken massaman curry and pad Thai, recipes he learned directly from Thai native Pikul Morelow.
"You can't be the best until you go and do the best," said Mitchell, who's twice traveled to Thailand with Morelow to study the cuisine there. "She's not from a nice place, but I loved every minute of it."...
WIMAUMA — The first time Greg Singleton stood on the edge of a crystal lagoon, the view of clear, turquoise waters amazed him beyond expectations.
"You know in my role I see a lot of stuff and I am supposed to be critical," said Singleton, president of Metro Development Group. "But when I saw the one in Cabo, I was like 'Wow, this is clearly a game changer.'"
And now, one of these game changers — a six-acre body of water with more than 10 million gallons of water — will become part of the burgeoning development taking place in Wimauma....
Kyoko Faison is making it easy to grab vegan-friendly foodin South Tampa with her new concept, Pure Kitchen Organic Vegan.
"I used to be a chef at Grass Roots, a vegan restaurant, but they closed about three years ago," Faison said. "After working at SoHo Sushi, the owner, Jeffrey, encouraged me to open a restaurant because he believes in what I do. There aren't many vegan places in Tampa; Tampa is behind. I was excited Farmacy Vegan Kitchen +Bakery opened downtown, but we should have more places."...
Curt Johnson and Geoff Hewett recently opened a bike shop, Two Broke Spokes, that caters to a variety of customers.
Even those who want to purchase bikes and accessories online through outside websites are accommodated.
"We are service oriented," Hewett said. "We help the customers who prefer online purchases, as well as those who want a physical location.
We don't shun anyone who wants to buy things on the internet. If you find a great deal on a bike on a website and want to make sure you are getting the right size and everything, come to us."...
Prior to opening the women's clothing store, Why Not Boutique in 2008 the thought of being a retail owner had never even crossed Jennifer Dutkowsky's mind.
Today, she owns two.
"I never worked retail growing up, so when I first opened the boutique Google was my best friend," Dutkowsky said. "I was fortunate to have mentors and other boutique owners offer advice. You don't get anywhere without people helping you out. I'm not sure how it happened, but it happened."...
Charles Rumph and Tim Fedorko's first attempt at launching a vegan restaurant concept in Tampa "was a disaster."
They respectively spent months reflecting on the ill-fated attempt.
Rumph even considered a move to New York.
"We said let's just give it one more try," said Rumph. "We found this partnership with Duckweed Urban Market. They had a vacancy in their café space so we met with Michelle Deatherage, the owner. We had such similar values, she cared about the environment, about people and was so forthcoming and clear about everything."...