Restaurant industry growth tends to hit a lull in August and September in Tampa Bay, with a notable surge in new openings in October.
Yup, were surging. Here's a smattering of high-profile restaurants that have opened recently or will in the next week or two.
Platt Street Borough Bar & Eatery opens in the next couple weeks, serving chef-driven, New American fare and custom cocktails at 1809 W Platt St. in Tampa. Chef-owners Kiel Lombardo and Adam Hyatt worked together for years in Tampa Bay's fine dining scene under James Beard award-winning chef Roy Yamaguchi at Roy's. As their working relationship grew, the two began to share a vision of an approachable neighborhood restaurant that embraced their standards. This trend is playing out in cities around the country: ambitious food served in a casual setting that eschews white-tablecloth trappings.
The chefs will bring contemporary pairings to the table such as seared ahi tuna with cold-pressed olive oil, radish and herb salad, and roasted peanut romesco; or shrimp with warm farro salad, Sicilian olives, arugula pesto, and baby heirloom tomatoes. Brunch offers items such as baked eggs with San Marzano tomatoes and housemade sausage, as well as a spin on chicken and waffles, only this time with glazed yeast doughnuts. Menu items are priced from $5 to $25, and craft cocktails range from $8 to $12. Oh, and there's bocce ball, darts, and skee-ball for working off the calories. plattstreetborough.com.
Southern-themed restaurant 1895 Kitchen-Bar-Market opened at the beginning of September in downtown Tampa's historic Franklin Building at 510 N Franklin St. According to co-owners Todd Lax and Kevin Kenny, 1895 was the birth year of downtown Tampa's oldest building and they wanted to establish a restaurant that paid homage to the 120-year history of the building and the Southern culture it represents.
The space features two separate bars, each with its own personality. A 100-year-old pecky cypress bar blended with a copper countertop and base of cabinetry salvaged from Belleair's Belleview Biltmore Hotel is a place to grab a whiskey cocktail and watch a game on the 10-foot television. The back bar is a little more sophisticated and counter-style for those looking to grab a drink or experience the smells of the open kitchen.
The cocktail program employs classic Southern ingredients such as moonshine, pecan house syrups and peach-infused liqueurs, and the menu follows suit with comfort food based on old family recipes, with crock pot specials and spins on chicken and waffles (served in full-size or a mini portion), grilled cheese sandwiches stuffed with new twists like mac 'n' cheese and buffalo chicken or more adventurous versions lined with bacon jam, avocado, mild cheese and a fried egg, as well as oddities like Southern fried pork wings (I gotta see those pigs).
A market area at the 1895 entrance spotlights traditional cold-pressed juices from local favorite Urban Juice Company. The juices are housed in a cooler with other grab 'n' go items such as salads, fresh fruit and other snacks. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner daily. 1895.bar.
And on Oct. 25, CW Gin Joint opened at nearby 633 N Franklin St. in Tampa with a private party. Owned by Carolyn Wilson, president of the Wilson Company, which owns the Franklin Exchange block including the Vault, this newcomer is serving up elegant, Southern-inflected comfort food with a French twist. The space includes a seated dinner area as well as lounge seating and a bar, with live entertainment Wednesday to Sunday. The space, originally an addition to the Exchange National Bank, was re-envisioned by Wilson, with a menu designed by longtime Tampa Bay chef Gui Alinat. CW Gin Joint is open daily 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., joining a growing number of late night spots in downtown Tampa. cwginjoint.com.
Sea Dog Brewing opens next week at 9610 Gulf Blvd. A small chain of brewpubs in Maine and New Hampshire, we got our first one in 2013 on U.S. 19 N in Clearwater. At the time, Florida was already a huge market for Sea Dog and its parent company, Shipyard Brewing. Locals seemed familiar with what was on tap, from the apricot wheat (up front apricot, mild sweet malt, thin head) to the imperial stout (nearly black, with dark roasted coffee aromas and sweet, creamy Kahlúa on the finish).
Opened by the same folks as the Clearwater location, this newcomer is a 10,000-square-foot, open-air, waterfront 300-seater, with a tiki bar to come. Although beer is the focus, Sea Dog will have a full bar and "beer-infused cocktails." Wearing a fisherman's rain hat pulled low over one eye, the sea dog of the logo barks: This is New England cuisine! Well, sort of. Bahamian conch chowder, Florida smoked fish spread — hardly Kennebunkport staples, but plenty of come-hither dishes. seadogbrewing.com.
A new Frog Pond opened Oct. 23 downtown in St. Petersburg in the old Webb's Plaza, 890 3rd Ave. S. This is a third location for the popular beach egg-centric breakfast spot, the original in North Redington Beach. The new location is owned by Glenn Wostbrock. Wostbrock said he and fellow owner Chris Churchill have teamed up to expand the 35-year-old brand with a goal of opening 100 locations over the next 10 years. Like the flagship, the new downtown Frog Pond is open daily from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
"Downtown St. Pete is the start, and our first expansions will focus on Florida," Wostbrock said. "The new locations will feature modern but casual, art-inspired decor. We're also expanding the menu to include a large selection of current, health-conscious dishes from breakfast through lunch. Of course, all of our classic favorites are still here."