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PIT OFFERS HEALTHY FOOD AT 3 A.M.

The 2,000-square-foot space at 500 S Howard Ave. soon will be serving the low-carb - instead of the carb-loading - crowd.

A Pita Pit franchise is expected to have a soft opening toward the end of this month in the spot occupied for five years by the Great Harvest Bread Co.

The smell of fresh bread will be replaced by the aroma of meat and vegetable fillings that stuff the company's trademark Lebanese-style pitas.

The lower-fat fare will be served until 4 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, providing partiers with an alternative to pizza or fast food, said Andrew Turek, one of three partners in the franchise. The location is near the busy SoHo bar district, and Turek said there are few options for hungry folks heading home after a night out.

Turek, Geoff Gluck and Brandon Berlinrut, who all graduated from the University of Central Florida within the past five years, were Pita Pit fans in Orlando before moving to Tampa about 18 months ago to work as managers for a mortgage firm. When the firm moved, the three began thinking about owning a business together.

"The food fits the lifestyle around there - fresh thinking, healthy eating," said Turek, who first tried the company's food at its Gainesville franchise. "There are a lot of people going out late night, and big delivery (opportunities) downtown."

Turek and his partners were looking at the space next door, but subleased the space from Great Harvest once they found out it was closing in December.

"We tried some of their breads and they were great, but I'm sure with all the Atkins and (other) low-carb diets out, it has to be hard to be a baker," Turek said. "Especially in this town."

Pita Pit fills its pitas with lean meats, cheeses, vegetables, sauces and unique toppings like hummus and baba ghanoush. The company also offers breakfast pitas featuring scrambled eggs, ham, sausage, bacon and chicken.

The store will be open nearly around the clock, at least at first, Turek said. Projected hours are 8 a.m. to midnight or 1 a.m., as the market dictates, Sunday through Tuesday; and 8 a.m. to 4 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Delivery will be available during most, if not all, of the operating hours, within a 2-mile radius, he said.

Pet boutique owner opens new dog shop

One of Tampa's first pet boutique owners has opened a new location serving one of the city's best-known neighborhoods.

Hyde Bark opened last month in the 1925 building at the corner of Morrison and Howard avenues, next door to Hugo's Spanish Restaurant. Owner Maria Snider has owned Barks by the Bay (and Meows Too) at 1732 S Dale Mabry for eight years and said she wanted to open a location closer to a different set of pet owners.

The 1,200-square-foot shop, formerly occupied by (human) accessories store Eccentricities, specializes in gear and natural food for both dogs and cats. Hyde Bark carries a wide range of natural food lines.

"I scrutinize every product that comes in here and make sure it is something I would feed my dogs," Snider said.

The store also carries beds, toys and accessories, including seasonal items. Dog grooming is available by appointment.

Hours for Hyde Bark are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 251-0200.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3394 or e-mail sharonlginn@yahoo.com.

The Find

Pewter crab tray

Super Bowl parties go upscale serving chips and dip in a pewter crab serving tray, $60, from Vanity Home, collections for the stylish, 3423 Bay to Bay Blvd. Call 837-5100.

Amy Scherzer

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