1. Arts & Entertainment
  2. /
  3. Food

Sparkman Wharf in Tampa is getting a wine bar called Free the Cork

The new arrival will pair small plates with more than 150 bottles of wine.
A rendering of one retail corner at Sparkman Wharf, which is building up its dining offerings in Tampa. [Courtesy of Strategic Property Partners]
Published Oct. 15
Updated Oct. 16

The latest culinary addition to Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf? Free the Cork, a wine bar featuring globally influenced small plates by Denver chef and restaurateur Nelson Perkins.

Strategic Property Partners, which owns Sparkman Wharf at 615 Channelside Drive, announced plans for Free the Cork in a news release on Tuesday, not long after unveiling the fast-casual pasta restaurant that Il Ritorno owners Erica and David Benstock are bringing to the mixed-use waterfront development.

Similar to Semolina, Free the Cork will open in spring 2020 and occupy a retail space separate from the dining garden of shipping-container spots.

“We heard about the historic transformation taking place at Water Street Tampa and wanted to be a part of the city’s ongoing renaissance,” said certified sommelier and Tampa native Kristene Pommrehn, who owns Free the Cork with her husband Jay Pommrehn, in the release.

RELATED: Il Ritorno owners opening a pasta place at Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf

An international wine selection of more than 150 bottles and 50-plus options by the glass will join Perkins’ grub at Free the Cork. According to the news release, the chef, who has worked at celebrated eateries like Blue Hill in New York, is known for his extensive French culinary training and his Denver restaurant Colt & Gray.

In addition, Free the Cork is set to serve items like cheese, charcuterie, European-style sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches and coffee from its grab-and-go window, plus craft beer and wines by the glass and bottle.

The wine bar, billed as “warm and inviting” on its website, will also hold wine tastings, wine-paired dinners and other events in a private room.


  1. Winter squash at Lucky's Market Lucky's Market
    Butternut, acorn, spaghetti can all bring big flavor to the holiday table.
  2. Logan Skinner and James Lampkin cook chicken on a stick in 2017 at the annual Plant City Pig Jam. Times (2007)
    The Plant City Pig Jam brings a barbecue competition, food trucks drive the Italian Food & Wine Festival and Vintage Wine Cellars samples Thanksgiving-friendly wines.
  3. The versatile dessert is similar to pie, but more forgiving.
  4. Simple Thanksgiving stuffing. MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Keep it simple this year.
  5. This July 31, 2019, file photo shows an Impossible Whopper burger at a Burger King restaurant in Alameda, Calif. Restaurant Brands International (QSR), operator of Burger King and Tim Hortons restaurant chains, on Monday, Oct. 28, reported third-quarter earnings of $201 million. BEN MARGOT  |  AP
    In a lawsuit filed in Florida’s Southern District, Phillip Williams is suing Burger King for $5 million.
  6. A turkey surrounded by side dishes. Associated Press
    Tried-and-true techniques for the big meal.
  7. A Brooklyn Blackout Cake. LORRAINE FINA STEVENSKI  |  Special to the Times
    This rich, intensely chocolate cake was inspired by the original Ebingers blackout cake.
  8. White bean stew with salami and kale MICHELLE STARK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Salami and kale bolster this creamy one-pot meal.
  9. Elevation Coffee Roasters will serve everything from lattes to cold brew when it launches in the Northdale area of Tampa. Elevation Coffee Roasters
    Owners Jonathan and Michelle Mitchell will roast on-site.
  10. Sweet Buns Bakery & Cafe has premiered in Tampa with savory and sweet Asian goodies. MEAGHAN HABUDA  |  Times
    Tampa has also scored Old School Bar & Grill and another Tampa Pizza Company.