The property at 1502 S Howard Ave. in Tampa has tales to tell, all of them a chapter of restaurateur Gordon Davis' life. The first was Le Bordeaux, a 15-year French country run, followed by a shorter chapter as West Indies-inspired St. Bart's Island House. Then came a period as Ceviche, and finally a super-short chapter, as Samba Room. The story continues with Davis' CopperFish, opening in May. What will make CopperFish stand out from, say, Ocean Prime or Eddie V's is a focus on fish from the Gulf of Mexico. "We will have a list of about 14 to 18 different fish that changes every week, half of them locally caught," Davis said. "We'll have yellowtail snapper and grouper, and we'll bring in line-caught sheepshead and hogfish speared here, as well as cobia. We'll be bringing in line-caught swordfish and black cod, no farmed fish." Davis said CopperFish will be of the "less is more" school, grilling fish simply over pecan and fruit wood. There will be grilled oysters and an expansive raw bar. To suit the new concept, the Samba Room space is undergoing a renovation, with natural woods and old brick on the walls.
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Gulf Grill coming to Mad Beach
Gulf Grill of Madeira Beach is the new project of veteran restaurateur Steve Westphal (Parkshore Grill, 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House, the Pub, the Hangar Restaurant). "Right now it's a stretch of sand at 140th and Gulf Boulevard," says Westphal. As with all his restaurants, Tyson Grant will assist with the menu, and there will be a focus on farm-to-table produce and sustainable seafood. Westphal also envisions retro-classic cocktails like Mai Tais and Planter's punches at what he calls a "casual upscale" concept.
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St. Pete's new world of flavor
After sitting empty for three years, the former Social Security office at 391 34th St. N in St. Petersburg will soon open as the Teppanyaki Grill & Supreme Buffet. This isn't just another Asian restaurant or just another buffet joint. It will have 15 buffet stations offering foods from around the world. At 18,000 square feet, close to half the size of the Publix up the street, it's one of the biggest restaurants in Tampa Bay with room to seat 500 people. "You can try every kind of food you want," said Kevin Zxeng, manager of the restaurant that will open within a few weeks. Offerings include Chinese, Italian, Thai, American cuisine and sushi. Price is set at $6.99 for lunch and $9.99 for dinner.
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Menu goes native at historic pump house
Ybor City's best-known restaurateur, Richard Gonzmart of the Columbia, has teamed with Keith Sedita, who was with OSI for 13 years and helped develop the Carmel Cafe concept, to launch Ulele Native-Inspired Food and Spirits at the site of a Tampa Heights steam-powered pump house that dates to 1902. Leasing the space from the city, they will preserve the historic exterior while the Beck Group reimagines the interior space. The new restaurant will serve food inspired by early Florida Native American fare, but also that of later Florida pioneers. With a target opening date in the fourth quarter of this year, the large restaurant (6,800 square feet in the first phase, with a microbrewery to follow) will celebrate smoked mullet, the beauty of blue crab and a raft of other indigenous foods.