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  1. Food

American Social and Thai Prime to join the Tampa restaurant roster

TAMPA — With a view of the Tampa Bay Convention Center, Amalie Arena, Tampa General Hospital and all of Jeff Vinik's highly anticipated Channelside construction, Harbour Island is looking like prime restaurant territory.

At least it seems that way based on the announcement Wednesday that it will be the site of American Social's third location.

Paul Greenberg, Rick Mijares and Mijares' parents, Tony and Laurie Mijares, debuted their first high-profile upscale sports bar and "farm-to-table" restaurant in 2012 on Las Olas Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale and expanded with a second location last year in the tony Brickell area of downtown Miami.

Tampa was the next logical location, Rick Mijares said.

"With a concept so well received here on the East Coast, we decided to go where we feel is a tremendous market for us, with lots of (Florida State) alumni, friends and family," he said. "And the premier destination in the Tampa area is that waterfront location, which is completely one of a kind."

Adjacent to Davis Islands, the location at 601 S Harbour Island Blvd. contains more than 8,000 square feet of interior space and 4,000 square feet of bay-front patio dining. With a target opening of next August, the finished restaurant will have approximately 400 seats and three full-service bars.

Craft beer enthusiasts will be interested in this touch: The space will feature two four-tap private booths for self-serve beer and a self-serve communal beer wall with six taps.

While "farm to table" is a term bandied about loosely these days, Mijares said the first two American Social locations work hard to source produce, beer and other products locally, and that they refer to their kitchens as "scratch kitchens" where no prepared foods are purchased.

With a demographic target of working professionals ages 25 to 55, Mijares said the design of their restaurants is his mother's job, bringing a woman's touch to a sports bar so that "there is harmony and both men and women feel comfortable."

Mijares anticipates that the project will generate 120 jobs in the Tampa area.

And count yet one more restaurant among Tampa's growing roster.

MetWest International is adding Thai Prime to its already stacked lineup at its retail center across from International Plaza and Tampa International Airport. Joining Cooper's Hawk Winery and Restaurant, Kona Grill, Texas de Brazil and Del Frisco's Grille, Thai Prime will open its doors in December, owner David Chong said.

Chong has proved his Thai chops at Thai Samurai in New Port Richey over the past six years and comes from a multigenerational restaurant family. Also involved in the project is his son, Michael, a culinary school graduate who has most recently worked with Hyatt. His daughter, Krista, has been the sushi chef at Thai Samurai.

The 2,613-square-foot space will have 176 seats indoors and out, as well as a full liquor bar, and will service a dense area of office workers.

"MetWest alone has over 3,500 employees with thousands more employed within 2 miles," Chong said. Still, this is a large undertaking for a cuisine traditionally more likely to be smaller-scale "mom and pops."

Chong is confident: There are no other Thai restaurant nearby, the three MetWest office buildings will at some point be joined by a fourth, and the pedestrian-friendly, urban-oriented development will eventually include an apartment community and hotel.

Contact Laura Reiley at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

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