TAMPA — Two sisters want to make the defunct paint store they’re transforming into an eatery and market a mainstay in Seminole Heights.
Harvest Bowl is the brainchild of Tampa natives Atheer and Athar Naif. Shooting for an opening in mid-January, the one-stop shop at 6109 N Florida Ave. will specialize in create-your-own bowls built upon fresh ingredients, plus a retail section stocked with gourmet specialty items.
The Naifs told the Times their family used to own the old Rainbow Mart at S Howard Avenue and Bayshore Boulevard. Some inspiration for Harvest Bowl — a quick-serve joint with limited seating designed for hanging out more than dining in — comes from that store they grew up in, and worked at during high school. But the eatery and market isn’t Rainbow Mart 2.0. They see it as a place uniquely their own.
When they noticed a rainbow sticker on the for-lease building that will soon become Harvest Bowl’s cozy digs, they took it as “a sign that this is our calling,” Athar said.
“I think [Rainbow Mart is] more of just Pinterest inspo for us, because we want fresh and new,” she said. “We’re ready for something different, more modern. Something that we created.”
Atheer added: “We hope it’ll be as successful as Rainbow Mart was.”
The sisters have tapped executive chef Kevin Boxx to lead the eatery side of Harvest Bowl.
Boxx, who attended the New England Culinary Institute in Vermont, has spent the majority of his career as a pastry chef. He said he helped launch Seminole Heights spot the Wine Bar Cafe, which closed in May, and helped out at the late Piquant on N Howard Avenue. He’s worked with the Ritz Carlton and Kimpton hotel companies, too, and all sorts of cuisines, from Italian and Japanese to South African and French.
That will come in handy for the bowls, which incorporate ingredients like house-made hummus and tabbouleh for Middle Eastern flair. The Naifs are second-generation Palestinian.
For the bowls, you first pick your base (think greens, different types of rice or lentils), then your protein (steak, chicken, falafel) and vegetables (cauliflower, chickpeas, broccoli) before moving on to one of the dressings that are also crafted on site.
In addition, Harvest Bowl will feature a salad bar and a bakery area serving baked goods, coffee and acai bowls, plus breakfast eats like sandwiches, avocado toast and burritos.
“We’re really aiming to serve high-quality food,” Atheer said.
Down the road, the chef would like to take his experience with a broad range of flavors further, maybe through a curry goat bowl or another with Filipino influence.
“We’re going to try to make it a little more upscale, funky, but support the neighbors,” said Boxx, who most recently served as a private chef and lives 10 blocks from Harvest Bowl. “See what the neighborhood likes.”
As for the market, look forward to an assortment of products such as gluten-free crackers, grains and nuts, sparkling waters, local kombuchas, European chocolates and bulk veggies, the same ones used in the bowls. Atheer said they’re thinking about selling premade family-style meals as well.
Harvest Bowl, in the works for about a year and a half, plans to stay open for dinner. However, it will primarily be a daytime gathering place, as the Naifs aim to fill a breakfast and lunch void in the neighborhood.
“You can grab your dinner, you can go to the retail end and grocery shop and you can come hang out. And the vibe here, the nice thing about it, it’s not catering to only one type of population. ... This is going to be for everybody,” Athar said.
Part-time pharmacist Athar said she and Atheer, who left her job in the public administration field to pursue Harvest Bowl, have done almost everything together since they were little, including driving the same cars and attending the same Tampa universities. So it’s fitting that this is their next joint venture.
“This is our soul, this is our baby,” Atheer said.
Athar added: “We’re excited. We hope this’ll be a staple in Tampa, especially in Seminole Heights.”