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  1. Food

Bizou Brasserie at Le Méridien changes management, chef, decor

TAMPA — Bizou Brasserie, the upscale restaurant in Le Méridien hotel, is undergoing some changes.

For starters, it will now be managed in house, dropping its relationship with SoHo Hospitality, said Gary Prosterman, president and CEO of Development Services Group, on Tuesday.

Chef Peter LaMontagna has been tapped as executive chef and food and beverage director. He most recently led store operations for Whole Foods Market in Tallahassee and served as regional chef for Whole Foods in the Midwest region and Canada. Under his leadership the menu will maintain its eclectic American-French-Italian sensibility, but will debut regular seasonal menus. Bizou, in response to diner feedback (as well as to a review in the Tampa Bay Times), has also added carpeting to the dining room and acoustical paneling to mitigate a noise problem.

Several other changes have been implemented, from a "Work Release" happy hour from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, featuring a separate small-plate menu and specialty drinks, to a Sunday patio brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The hotel opened in June in the 1905 beaux arts-style federal courthouse on Florida Avenue.

SoHo Hospitality, now known as Be-1 Concepts, has been in a period of flux, launching three new concepts in Winter Park just last week: Boca (a second outpost of the award-winning Platt Street restaurant in Tampa), a '70s-style bar called Park Social and a pub called Atlantic Bar and Oyster.

In September Be-1 partners Kevin Enderle and Chas Bruck split from SoHo partner Gordon Davis, maintaining oversight of Boca Kitchen Bar and Market and Ciro's Speakeasy and Supper Club, and leaving ownership of CopperFish Seafood Grill & Oyster Bar to Davis.

From Enderle's perspective, the Le Méridien announcement "wasn't really a split. We were brought in as the management company. It was amicable."

He says that he and his partner are focusing on expanding their Boca brand, developing new brands and updating Tampa's Boca and Ciro's with a new fall/winter menu.

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

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