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Tampa Bay restaurant and bar openings: Valhalla Bakery, Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill

Plus, Arr Dogs hits St. Pete Beach and New Port Richey scores Heros Downtown Subs and Salads.
Ellenton saw the opening of Whiskey Joe's Bar & Grill on March 16. [Courtesy of Specialty Restaurants Corporation]

NOW OPEN

Valhalla Bakery

All-vegan goodies such as cupcakes, turnovers and cookies are churning out of the popular bakery in St. Petersburg once again. After moving out of EDGE District food hall Baum Ave Market last year, owner Celine Duvoisin reopened Valhalla Bakery on March 8 in the nearby Grand Central District. Duvoisin’s goal is to offer an expanded lineup of her plant-based treats, plus mocktails and beer and wine down the line. Established in 2015 in Orlando, the bakery will eventually share its new home with the eatery Lucy’s, which promises vegan sandwiches and sides. 2462 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. valhallabakery.com.

Valhalla Bakery's new home in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg features this picture-perfect couch near the front window. [MICHELLE STARK | Times]
Related: Valhalla Bakery is soft opening in its new St. Petersburg space this weekend

Arr Dogs

This pirate-themed hot dog joint next to Rick’s Reef pulls off a mostly familiar menu of franks with a come-as-you-are attitude. Featuring seats inside and out, Arr Dogs does wieners like a traditional Chicago link and the Nacho Average Dog topped with diced onion, tomato, jalapeno, queso and sour cream, plus a mild Italian sausage and a German pork bratwurst. There are also beef or chicken nachos, a charcuterie “plank” and five flatbreads. Bottled and canned beers, including some craft options, on display behind the bar and the impressive wall of wine bottles signal what’s served on the beverage side. 6710 Gulf Blvd., St. Pete Beach. (727) 256-3000.

Heros Downtown Subs and Salads

Opened in February, Heros Downtown Subs and Salads is slinging its namesake munchies in a speedy setting. The casual shop’s sub selection includes Riot Club (Boar’s Head mesquite smoked turkey, deluxe ham, whole-milk mozzarella cheese, bacon) and the One Eight Seven Italian (Boar’s Head pesto Parmesan ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni, provolone cheese). They both come dressed the “Heros Way” with mayo, oil and vinegar, lettuce, diced tomatoes, onions, relish and Italian seasonings, as do a few other builds. No matter which combination moves your taste buds, each sub is available as a salad. 5649 Main St., New Port Richey. (727) 203-3003. herosdowntownsubs.com.

Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill

Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill premiered earlier this week along the Manatee River. Signature dishes with tropical flair, tiki-style cocktails (and more than 40 kinds of margaritas!), a weekly bill of live entertainment and family-friendly activities drive the fourth waterfront location for the Floribbean-inspired restaurant, where boat pullups and fire pits await as well. Guests can enjoy eats such as grouper sandwiches, shrimp tacos, mango mahi mahi and gator bites while dining across the 12,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space. “Whiskey Joe’s Manatee River is excited to bring a new sense of adventure, including family fun, good food and great relaxing vibes, to the Ellenton community,” brand manager Martin Duffany said in a statement. The other locations for Whiskey Joe’s, which is part of the Specialty Restaurants Corporation group, are in Tampa, Port Richey and Miami. Locally, the restaurant group is also behind Tampa’s Rusty Pelican. 5313 19th St. E, Ellenton. (941) 263-3111. thewhiskeyjoes.com.

COMING SOON

My Favorite Muffin

My Favorite Muffin aims to open three Tampa Bay locations within the next two years, marking its entrance into Florida. The gourmet muffin brand is looking for a franchisee in the St. Petersburg area to introduce the first outpost there in 2020 as a lower-cost muffin bakery or a full-service cafe. Specializing in cakelike muffins baked fresh on site, the Deerfield, Ill.-based My Favorite Muffin started in 1987 and is backed by franchisor BAB Systems Inc. BAB also franchises Big Apple Bagels and Brewster’s Coffee. According to a statement from franchise development lead Brian Evans, My Favorite Muffin has seen great success at Big Apple Bagels in Lutz, where its signature muffins are sold. That’s what initially attracted him and his father, My Favorite Muffin CEO Michael Evans, to the greater Tampa Bay community. “We’re excited to capitalize on our plan to bring these franchise and job opportunities to the residents of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties,” Brian Evans continued. The My Favorite Muffin bakery model features muffins in as many as 30 flavor profiles daily (think chocolate chip or cinnamon swirl cheesecake), while the cafe concept does bagels and sandwiches alongside the main event. The brand has 20 locations throughout the United States in Georgia, Kentucky, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Rhode Island and New Jersey. myfavoritemuffin.com.

The gourmet muffin brand My Favorite Muffin plans to bring three locations to the Tampa Bay area within the next two years. [Courtesy of My Favorite Muffin]
Related: This new Kahwa Coffee location will be different from the others

Kahwa Coffee

St. Petersburg’s Kahwa Coffee will step up its sustainability game with a new cafe made up of three reclaimed shipping containers. The project is touted as the first of its kind in St. Pete. In addition to an eco-friendly design, the cafe will feature covered seating and a drive-thru for added convenience. “We hope this new concept will inspire the community to look into ways of reducing their carbon footprint,” Kahwa co-owner Raphael Perrier said in a news release. The shipping container location will increase Kahwa’s Tampa Bay cafe count to 16. 6623 Fourth St. N, St. Petersburg. kahwacoffee.com.

A rendering of the shipping container location that Kahwa Coffee will open in St. Petersburg this summer. [Courtesy of Kahwa Coffee]

The Spice & Tea Exchange

The Spice & Tea Exchange is headed to downtown St. Petersburg shopping and dining complex the Sundial. Taking over the first-level spot previously occupied by the Tampa Bay Rowdies and Tampa Bay Rays team store, this Florida-based tea and spice franchise carries a diverse variety of spices and loose-leaf teas. Olive oils, extracts and specialty gifts for the gastronaut in your life will be sold, too. According to a statement from owner Lisa Coleman, the highlight of her shop is that it makes its own spice blends. “It is our mission to provide a unique spice and tea shopping experience and to generate excitement by immersing our customers in rich and vivid sights and smells,” Coleman said. May 1 is the Spice & Tea Exchange’s projected St. Pete launch date. Founded in St. Augustine in 2008, the franchise operates nationwide, with other local shops in Madeira Beach, Dunedin, Tarpon Springs and Sarasota. 153 Second Ave. N, St. Petersburg. spiceandtea.com.

Esposito’s

This forthcoming Carrollwood restaurant will bring more Italian cuisine to Tampa Bay. Esposito’s is billed as a “New York-style Italian ristorante.” The menu on its website lists items like eggplant rollatini, veal meatballs, burrata arugula salad, Venetian black seafood risotto and chicken saltimbocca. The Famous Fiocchi sounds particularly tempting. Topped with prosciutto and asparagus and finished with balsamic reduction, the dish showcases pasta purses that are stuffed with cheese and pear, then tossed in Moscato cream sauce. 14306 N Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa. espositositaliantampa.com.

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