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Tangerine Plaza strengthens roots

The aroma of China Star's moo goo gai pan curled into the Tangerine Plaza parking lot. People peered at the window menu and spoke about its contents inducing midmorning hunger pangs.

The restaurant is one of two new businesses to open last week at Tangerine Plaza, the Sweetbay-anchored shopping center on 18th Avenue S and 22nd Street.

About 50 officials, business people and residents gathered for the grand opening, which also celebrated the arrival of MetroPCS, a cell phone store.

Goliath Davis, deputy mayor for Midtown, also announced that two other businesses soon will open in the plaza: Cadillac Cleaners and MeMe's, a beauty salon.

With their arrival, five of the seven storefronts in the plaza's east-west wing will be filled. The shopping center opened in November.

"We're committed trying to see these storefronts are occupied by a diverse set of individuals'' that include Midtown residents, Davis said.

MetroPCS is owned by Sung Lee. Its manager is Bernard Johnson, a Midtown resident.

"It's an honor to be in my neighborhood and provide a service to the residents of this area,'' Johnson said.

Chen Min, who owns two Hillsborough County restaurants, owns the China Star, which serves New York-style Chinese food. It seats up to 16 people at four tables and has a take-out service.

Jamekka Harris, the MeMe who is opening the beauty shop, said she was "born and raised five blocks away."

Lorenzo and Linda Brown own Cadillac Cleaners, currently operating on 22nd Street S a few blocks from the shopping center.

Lorenzo Brown said he was happy about the relocation, and he urged current and potential customers to support the move.

"We need you all to make sure we stay here,'' he said.

City Council member Earnest Williams said much the same during a short speech. Williams said he shops at Sweetbay and encouraged others to patronize all the plaza businesses.

"Not just Midtown,'' he said. "We want people from throughout the city.''