SEFFNER — Barbecue enthusiasts, rejoice: South Tampa ‘cue institution Kojak’s House of Ribs has found a new home and will reopen in Seffner.
The restaurant is taking over an old Pizza Hut at 1809 S Parsons Ave., near the intersection of S Parsons Avenue and E Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
The iconic South Tampa barbecue restaurant closed in August after 43 years in business when the owners announced they would be leaving the longtime Gandy Boulevard location to make way for new townhomes at the site.
“I don’t know what I’m thinking,” owner Chris Forney said when reached by phone Wednesday. “Guess it’s in my blood.”
When the original Kojak’s closed, Forney told the Tampa Bay Times that he hoped to relocate the business elsewhere, in a smaller, easier-to-maintain space. Forney and his family (he’s one of 12 children of the original owner, Bud Forney) have lived in Seffner for more than two decades, so the new location felt like a good fit and is much closer to home.
Following construction and renovations on the space, Forney said, he hopes to be open by Christmas, adding that the national shortage in building supplies could push back the date a little further. Once open, the restaurant will operate as a counter service spot where guests order at the counter and pick up their food once it’s called out. There will be space for roughly 48 seats inside, and Forney said he expects a large portion of their business will revolve around takeout.
Forney conceded that the new location won’t be able to compete with the longtime Kojak’s home, housed in a 1920s bungalow, when it comes to charm.
“It’s impossible to turn a house into a restaurant these days,” Forney said. “That building was 94 years old.”
But fans of the restaurant can rest assured that the same family-run welcoming atmosphere, smoked meats, sides and desserts will return.
“That’s very important,” Forney said. “The same recipes and the same people.”