WESLEY CHAPEL — A new shopping park made of colorful shipping containers is celebrating its grand opening June 4.
Located within the Grove, a strip mall off Interstate 75 in Wesley Chapel, Krate has slowly come to life with shops and restaurants, the first of which opened in September 2021. The grand opening will mark about 70% of businesses ready for the public, developer Mark Gold said, with the rest set to debut over the summer.
Krate at the Grove is the latest destination in Pasco County, one of the fastest-growing counties in the state.
The population has only accelerated during the pandemic, with Wesley Chapel housing prices going up more than 34% in a year, according to realtor.com. As the suburban area grows, Gold said there’s been a lack of things to do in the area for families.
“I needed to bring something to make a statement, to say I am here, and the container park was the answer,” Gold said.
Wesley Chapel is now “on the map,” said Nickole Davis, owner of All Good Things Gifts, a local-themed shop in Krate. Davis, a first-time owner with a background in laser cutting, said she wanted to create a store featuring the growing community. So far, the store’s bestselling items include zip code throw pillows and “Real Housewives of Wesley Chapel” wine tumblers.
Krate focuses on smaller and local businesses, with a mix of more experienced brands and first-time owners so they can lean on each other throughout the process. Three rows of crates are home to 46 businesses, with 30% being run by first-timers. Shipping container spaces can range from 320 to 960 square feet. It’s one of the largest container parks in the country, with more businesses than Las Vegas’ downtown container park.
Restaurants occupy the majority of the crates, with no two dining options alike. The mix of spots includes different cuisines and culinary concepts, including a Japanese ramen spot, a classic French bakery, a Puerto Rican pastry shop, a restaurant specializing in Peruvian and Chinese fusion and a spot for Venezuelan street food, among many others. There are currently 17 restaurants open at the development, with another 11 slated to launch in the coming months.
With the exception of one or two restaurants, none of the eateries is part of a chain. The shopping park is meant to be a more affordable option for opening a typical storefront, with rents for the 40-foot-long containers starting at $1,500 a month. For many of the owners, the containers are their first shot at running a business resembling a brick-and-mortar.
For Christina and Josh Norland, the opportunity meant securing another outlet for their popular food truck The Bacon Boss.
“For us, it was the perfect baby step to see if the food truck customers would come to us,” Christina Norland said. “It was always Josh’s dream to own his own restaurant.”
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Krate is also home to a few beer and wine shops, and the entire park is wet-zoned, so guests can grab a beer or a glass of wine and stroll.
Aside from food and drinks, Krate will have shops specializing in cigars, flower arrangements, crystals, toys, curtain blinds and CBD products, as well as boutiques, a gadget repair spot, a tattoo parlor, a business incubator and a tutoring center for both kids and adults.
Many business owners said they’ve been waiting for opening day after many delays from the pandemic. Gold said waiting on permitting and getting materials amid supply chain issues has made it difficult. They are still waiting for parts to arrive, including pieces for a playground.
In addition to the kids’ area, Krate has a center stage to host concerts led by local artists or community plays; the intention is to host events almost every day.
Gold is working to revitalize the Grove after buying the strip mall in 2019 in partnership with Israeli investing firm Mishorim Real Estate for $62.7 million. He also has a stake in Pasco’s Holiday Mall and Horizon Park in Hillsborough County.
The Grove’s former Cobb theater was taken over by B&B Theatres after Cobb filed for bankruptcy in 2020, and the new chain has added higher-end features like a Cycle Cinema spin room, a kids’ playroom, a sushi bar and in-movie dining.
The strip mall hosts a monthly first Friday market with artisan goods and is set to have a miniature golf course open over the summer. Also on the way are a Woodie’s Wash Shack, Five Below, Bealls Outlet and Starbucks, with more additions planned to be announced, Gold said.
But the biggest addition to the Grove will be Krate. Its colorful boxes are hard to miss when driving by on the highway.
Shipping container concepts have popped up across the region, most notably Sparkman Wharf in downtown Tampa. When asked what makes Krate different, Gold said visitors can go inside the containers to eat and shop with air-conditioning and can park in front of the storefronts. It’s also bigger.
While people in the suburbs typically head to the urban core for activities, Gold said he expects the opposite for Wesley Chapel.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if I see people from Tampa come visit us,” Gold said.
Here’s a breakdown of all the businesses operating in time for Krate’s grand opening and those set to open this summer.
FOOD AND DRINKS
Provisions Coffee & Kitchen: The coffee and pastry spot features a creative list of espresso creations, with specialty drinks like Golden Milk turmeric lattes and matcha tonics flavored with lavender, and pastries like gluten-free raspberry Nutella pop-tarts, everything bagel balls and vegan banana bread. provisionscoffeefl.square.site.
Shake-A-Salad: This is a classic build-your-own-salad setup where guests can design their own salad or pick from one of the many featured selections. Not into salads? Make it a wrap or turn it into a rice bowl. shakeasaladfl.com.
The FryRoom: As the name might imply, the restaurant specializes in all things fried and the menu includes everything from Angus beef corn dogs to panko-battered shrimp tacos, pickle spears, chicken-on-a-stick platters and apple cider doughnuts. the-fryroom.square.site/.
El Prince: The spot features classic Mediterranean fare including shawarma sandwiches, kebabs and gyros. elprincerestaurants.com.
Tasty Ramen: This Japanese fast-casual spot specializes in tonkotsu ramen bowls, with snacks like gyoza, seaweed salad, edamame and spring rolls. clover.com/online-ordering/tasty-ramen-wesley-chapel.
Mojo Grill Latin Fusion: The Latin fusion menu includes classics like Cuban sandwiches and creative mashups, like chorizo-topped nachos with chimichurri, patacones, choripan sandwiches and the restaurant’s signature mojo bowls. mojogrilllatinfusion.com.
La Creación Xpress: From the same family that runs La Creación Bakery on Hillsborough Avenue in Tampa, this Puerto Rican pastry shop features all the baked goods: guava pastelitos, pan de mallorca, empanadas, alcapurrias and more. facebook.com/lacreacionexpress.
TJ’s Hot Dogs: Enjoy classic hot dogs, beer, pretzels and corn dogs.
The Bacon Boss: All things bacon rule the menu here, from Gouda mac and cheese bites topped with bacon to bacon-wrapped beef hot dogs and grilled cheese sandwiches with tomatoes, bacon and garlic aioli. thebaconbosshq.com.
Brew Bar: Pour your own beer, seltzer or wine at this self-service beer hall, which features an interactive self-pour tap wall, beer flights and 21 rotating selections, with plenty of options from local breweries. facebook.com/BrewBarWesleyChapel.
Palani’s Hawai’i Noodles: Saimin bowls, a Hawaiian noodle dish with Filipino, Japanese and Chinese influences, are the highlight and come topped with Cantonese barbecue pork (char sui), Japanese kamaboko (cured surimi) and green onions. The menu also includes other Hawaiian staples: musubi, teriyaki beef and flavored shave ice. palanishawaiinoodles.com.
Chamo Bites: Venezuelan specialties include arepas (cornmeal dough pockets stuffed with meat, cheese and vegetables), chachapas (fried, filled corn cakes), tequenos (fried cheese sticks) and cabineras (a decked-out arepa, often topped with beef, ham, egg, cheese and drizzled with ketchup, mustard or mayonnaise). facebook.com/ChamoBitesTampa.
Blush Wine Room: This wine shop-bistro hybrid features a selection of wines, cocktails and snacks, including spinach and artichoke dip, truffle fries and a honey feta and olive dip. facebook.com/blushwineroom.
Tacos El Patron: The restaurant features traditional Mexican fare including tacos, sopes, tortas, burritos, quesadillas and elote cups. facebook.com/tacoselpatronfl.
Subzero Nitrogen Ice Cream: This chain design-your-own-ice cream concept lets guests choose a base, flavors and mix-ins and then watch their dessert freeze right before their eyes, thanks to a blast of liquid nitrogen. subzeroicecream.com.
Yummy Tablas: Beautifully arranged “grazing boards” feature a collection of cheeses, charcuterie, honey, jams, fruit, nuts, olives, chocolate, olives and cornichons and can be customizable, depending on the size of your group. yummytablas.com.
Urban Sweets: Cake parfait cups — assembled with different flavors of cakes, cookies and toppings — are the highlight. The menu also features cupcakes, brownies, layered desserts, edible cookie dough and cake pops. urbansweetstampa.com.
Sugar Pop: Candy, candy and more candy.
Rhythm Pon: Traditional Jamaican fare, including brown stew chicken, jerk chicken and pork, escovitch fish and oxtail. facebook.com/rhythmpondegrille.
ATO Burritos and Bowls: From the owners of Zukku Sushi, the spot will specialize in fast-casual sushi burritos and poke bowls. facebook.com/AtoLakeland.
Cafe 365: The Italian cafe and bakery will serve gelato, espresso, crepes and panini.
Boba Macs: Multiple flavors of boba tea and different variations on mac and cheese.
Bakery X: A French bakery specializing in classic viennoiserie and fresh-baked breads, including croissants, brioche, cinnamon rolls, baguettes and sourdough loaves. bakeryx.com.
Cafe Zorba: Traditional Greek cuisine.
Flipn’ Fries Factory: An homage to the french fry, this spot features multiple variations on the fried potato.
Pico Express: A restaurant featuring chifa cuisine — a fusion of Peruvian and Chinese dishes.
Bebo’s Cheesesteaks: A spot specializing in Philly cheesesteaks. facebook.com/beboscheesesteak.
Falafel Factory: Mediterranean dishes, salads and falafel sandwiches.
SHOPPING AND SERVICES
All Good Things Gifts: A modern gift shop offering Wesley Chapel-themed products, prints by local artists and custom products. Some bestselling products include “Real Housewives of Wesley Chapel” wine tumblers, 813 hats and zip code throw pillows. allgoodthingsgifts.com/.
The Rebellious Hippie: An organic lifestyle shop with handmade items that cater to the wellness of the mind, body, and spirit. It sells items like fresh dried herbs, live plants and flowers, essential oils, floral waters and crystals. instagram.com/TheRebelliousHippie/.
MaeBerry Co: A boutique of trendy baby apparel, accessories, and gifts. maeberryco.com.
Tonella’s Handpicked Flower Shop: A European-style flower shop where guests can handpick from a curated selection of florals and have it arranged before they leave. This is Tonella’s first storefront; its flower truck will remain at Armature Works in Tampa. tonellasflowertruck.com.
Katie Beth’s Boutique: It’s the second location for this Panhandle-based boutique that provides a “Christ-centered atmosphere,” according to its website. It offers trendy and feminine clothing including classics, workwear apparel or streetwear. shopkatiebeths.com.
Budget Blinds: A showroom of window blinds, shutters, draperies and automatic shades. budgetblinds.com.
Center Ed: A tutoring center for both children and adults. It offers music lessons like piano, guitar or singing and also academic options like algebra, pre-calculus, physics and English. centered.education.
Life Essentials Re-fillery: A health-focused grocery store with organic and local foods. It specializes in cruelty-free, vegan and non-genetically-modified items. lifeessentialsrefillery.com/.
Valiart Jewelry: A jewelry shop.
The Toy Jungle: A children’s store that specializes in toys that require building, like Legos, and STEM-focused products. Krate will be its second location after Holiday Mall. toy-jungle.com.
2 Extreme Tattoos: A tattoo parlor with locations in Tampa’s University Mall, Port Richey’s Gulf View Mall and Countryside Mall in Clearwater. instagram.com/2extremetattoos.
We Rock Rocks: A shop with gems, crystals and minerals with locations in Tampa and Largo. werockrocks.com.
Grove Cigars: A shop specializing in cigars.
SMARTStart MarketSpace: Pasco County’s Economic Development Council’s small-business incubator offering programs and tools to help local businesses in the long-term. smartstartpasco.com.
Insane Vape & Smoke Shop: A tobacco shop with vaping and smoking products. There are two other locations in Brooksville and Bushnell. facebook.com/insanesmokeshop/.
Gadgets Emergency Room: An electronics repair shop focusing on fixing cellphones, computers and tablets. gadgetsemergencyroom.com.
Higher Flour: An edibles shop with CBD-infused products including cookies. higherflouredibles.com.