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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.

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