TAMPA — Lepley’s Kitchen and Lounge is opening in the former Social House space in Seminole Heights at the end of this month.
It’s named for owner Tyler Lepley, an actor who stars on the shows “Harlem” and “P-Valley.” The soft opening is Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.
Lepley, who is based in Los Angeles, was introduced to Tampa by a friend and business partner. As a traveling man who works all over the country, he found a homey vibe in Tampa. And with research showing growth in the city, it made sense to Lepley to open his first restaurant here.
The cuisine is Southern comfort food with a Caribbean flair, like spicy jerk lamb chops over mashed potatoes and asparagus and blackened salmon Rasta Pasta. The restaurant has a full liquor bar.
Lepley said he and his partners worked closely with the chef, who hails from the Bahamas. Lepley’s father’s side of the family is Jamaican, and other staff and owners are also from the Caribbean.
Lepley plays a chef on “Harlem” — which isn’t the reason he decided to open a restaurant— and he did enjoy the experience of being in the back of the kitchen, he said.
It came mostly from his passion for entertaining people at home with game nights full of food, drinks and music.
“My love of food and giving people love through food and an experience is really what led me to opening my first business,” he said.
Lepley had time to focus on the restaurant while the writers and actors strikes delayed production of the shows he’s on.
The restaurant space features indoor and outdoor seating and a rooftop bar. Painted a deep midnight blue, the exterior will feature a mural of a gold flower by local artist team Pep Rally. Inside, the space is bright with a marble-looking bar and more gold accents.
While the soft opening happens at the end of the month, Lepley said the grand opening will happen closer to December. He said the team is looking for a charitable organization to partner with, to focus on causes like homelessness and foster care.
Lepley envisions hosting events at the restaurant, like watch parties for the shows he is on. He wants to draw a crowd of tastemakers and influencers, as well as fellow actors and celebrities.
“I think it’s good for the city because if you’re not from here, you don’t realize how much potential and how much Tampa really has,” he said “So bringing some of these stars here is going to let them understand that hey, we got something special here in Tampa, too.”
Lepley’s Kitchen and Lounge is located at 6310 N. Florida Ave., Tampa. The soft opening happens from 4-11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, and Sunday, Oct. 29.