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BRICKS READY TO HIT YBOR CITY

The Skatepark of Tampa's new restaurant and art space opens Monday.

Next week, the Skatepark of Tampa will officially premiere its latest addition: the Bricks of Ybor.

After a two-week soft opening, the much-anticipated bar, restaurant, cafe, and art-and-music venue - with adjoining skateshop - officially opens on Monday at the corner of 13th Street and Seventh Avenue in Ybor City.

Based on comments from would-be regulars on Twitter and Facebook, the skatepark's new spot should be another coup for Tampa's 17-year-old, internationally renowned hub for skateboarding and the local indie-underground scene.

As the name suggests, the Bricks inhabits an old brick building - formerly the home of Tahiti Joe's and Denali Cafe, among others - where inside, exposed brick walls form around characteristic archways, complementing light wood furniture and a copper-painted ceiling. The decor entices with an eye-catching blend of sleek lines, edgy artwork and turn-of-the-century antiquity. It's a look that offers warmth in the daylight and coolness at night.

Skatepark owner Brian Schaefer, with the help of business partners Seamus Gallagher and Durke Schmidt, galvanized the skatepark team to work on the venue.

"I always wanted to know what it was like to own a bar, operate a cafe," Schaefer said.

Schaefer proposed the idea to Schmidt, a former skatepark employee, a decade ago, and the result speaks to two sides of Schaefer's personality: the discerning grownup and the skate rat who refuses to grow old.

"It's for someone who's grown up but didn't grow out of what they enjoy," added Schaefer, who's 39.

Schaefer, a resident of Ybor City, lamented a lack of venues that cater to his age group and tastes and hopes the Bricks will fill a void. "New World is close to what we're doing," he said. "It has a different appearance, but heart-and-soul, it has the same idea."

Schaefer hired chef Chris Neely from Melbourne Beach to come up with an inspired but affordable menu, dabbling with playful touches, like Nutella, peanut butter and honey, and relying on healthy Mediterranean standbys like hummus, portobello and bruschetta. Neely and his staff will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner - including breakfast all day - and the letters VF will denote vegetarian-friendly options.

Sandwiches, made at a secondary prep station with chrome fixtures, will run from $4 to $14. The area, open and off to the side of the bar, adds a casual, homey touch, as do the bric-a-brac coffee mugs with corny sayings and designs like "Big Hug Mug" and "Time for a Golf Break," though Schaefer said he intentionally balanced the cafe and fine dining settings so one wouldn't overpower the other.

Schaefer used the word "modular" to describe the furnishing, so seating and tables could be switched out and moved around for an art show, dance party or concert. He emphasized that once local music shows are up and running they will be free (with a few exceptions), and concerts and other events will usually begin no earlier than 10 p.m. as not to disturb the restaurant atmosphere until the last hour.

Skatepark curators Chad and Suzie Cardoza, who have coordinated shows for the past four or so years, will be in charge of art installations at the Bricks. After this month, each new show at the Bricks will have a theme. The first themed show, "Ode to Ybor," opens July 30 with interpretations by local artists of the Ybor City legacy.

"We want to draw people with a DIY mentality, outsider artists, the Gen-Xers who remember the Blue Chair, Three Birds and other independent stores of old Ybor," Chad Cardoza said. "That's the feel I want to get to the Bricks."

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If you go

The Bricks of Ybor

1327 E Seventh Ave., Tampa. Hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday-Saturday. (813) 247-1785, facebook.com/thebricksybor.

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