Months after Ichicoro Ramen abruptly closed in Tampa’s Seminole Heights, a new restaurant is on the horizon for the spot at 5229 N Florida Ave.
Champion Pizza, a New York City-based chain, is expected to open at the location in three weeks, owner Hakki Akdeniz confirmed during a phone call. It is the restaurant’s first location in Florida.
Known for its pizza with gourmet toppings like eggplant Parmesan truffle, the spot will also serve Korean fried chicken, the mainstay of another one of Akdeniz’s brands, Cluck’s.
Akdeniz said he has been wanting to expand into Florida and set his sights on Tampa and Miami.
His personal story of hardship and tenacity — once homeless, he built his restaurant from the ground up, he said — inspires him to give back to the community.
“I’m living the American dream,” he said.