Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant has announced it will open its first Florida restaurant at MetWest International, MetLife's mixed-use development in the Westshore area of Tampa. A full-service restaurant that serves eclectic, contemporary American cuisine in a winery atmosphere complete with a tasting room, wine club and retail shop, it will be the third new restaurant to come to MetWest International since the opening of the development. East-West concept Kona Grill and the churrascaria chain Texas de Brazil are already open. It is estimated that the new project will create 125 new jobs in Tampa, with a rigorous service training program that prepares employees to become wine industry professionals. Tampa will be Cooper's Hawk's 12th location and the first outside of the Midwest.
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St. Pete getting second Queens Head
The Queens Head restaurant at 2501 Central Ave. in St. Petersburg aims to open a second location. According to co-owner Paul Smith, in the next eight months a second outpost will open off Beach Drive in the increasingly dense "restaurant row" area of St. Petersburg. Smith is mum about the new restaurant's name, but it will be a riff on the Royals. The original location celebrates its third anniversary in the Grand Central district on July 3.
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Fresh Mex conceptin Wesley Chapel
It's a titan in the Golden State, with legion fans in Southern California especially who swear by Baja Fresh's quick-Mex. Almost two weeks ago, Baja Fresh Mexican Grill debuted at 2653 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. in Wesley Chapel, operated by restaurant veteran Kush Vallabh. There's a tiny kiosk at the airport, but this location is a biggie, with 3,300 square feet and 110 indoor and outdoor seats. As the name implies, it's customized, made-to-order Mexican with a focus on fresh ingredients: The chain's simple carne asada taco with cilantro, white onion and a squeeze of lime explains their meteoric growth (230 restaurants in 25 states as well as Dubai and Singapore). Plus, free chips and six fresh salsas made daily.
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Breastaurant closesin Carrollwood
Nationally, the Tempe-based sports restaurant chain called the Tilted Kilt is going gangbusters, Technomics recently naming it one of the country's fastest-growing. But here in the Tampa Bay area, the chain has run into a few snags. There was the "busty drug bust" of sexy, midriff-baring, kilt-wearing waitresses at the Clearwater location in 2011, and several weeks ago the Carrollwood location shut down. According to servers at the Clearwater location (where many of the Carrollwood staffers have relocated), a new Tilted Kilt is in the works for Raymond James Stadium.
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Vietnamese cafe in St. Pete soon
St. Petersburg residents have fallen in love with the spicy/herbal banh mì sandwiches and pearl tapioca boba teas that Thuy Le makes at her eponymous cafe on 34th Street N. Word is, her new cafe La Vie, currently under construction at 437 Central Ave., will be open by the end of July. The menu will be an expanded version of her original spot, a boon since this has been a cuisine seriously underrepresented downtown.