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Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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A palate of new menu flavors coming to Tampa

TAMPA - From new burrito joints to upscale burger restaurants, Tampa will soon see a tidal wave of new places to eat, as developers start investing again. The most eager of restaurant companies came to Tampa this week for the International Council of Shopping Centers’ retail show at the Convention Center, and many made deals for new locations on the spot. “For a long time, we were worried about a double-dip recession. That didn’t happen,” said Justin Greider, vice president of the Orlando commercial real estate firm Crossman & Co. “Stability is good.” Unemployment continues to drop, and people with jobs feel more stable, Greider said. Fast, casual and affordable places fit right into the country’s new spending mind-set.
Here’s a rundown of what to expect: BurgurFi (stands for “Burgerfication of America”) has gone from zero locations just a couple of years ago to nine locations in Florida and 14 across the country. It takes a healthier approach to burgers, with only grass-fed beef and no hormones or antibiotics. In the vein of a Pizza Fusion, they use natural and recycled materials for fixtures and furniture. Some observers consider the company an upscale version of Five Guys. They owners are scouting sites near downtown Tampa, possibly on Kennedy Boulevard, with openings possible this fall. For a fun touch, the buns are stamped with the logo so customers remember where they’re eating. The Brass Tap is a chain acquired by Tampa-based Beef O’ Brady’s. It has already opened locations in Wesley Chapel, New Port Richey and Brandon. It’s an upscale gastro-pub concept with hundreds of beers and full table service, plus upper-shelf bourbons and wines. The company is targeting Carrollwood at Dale Mabry Highway and Van Dyke Road and plans to open a site soon in downtown St. Petersburg. It plans a slew of restaurants nationwide in stand-alone buildings, shopping centers and airports. It also plans on international expansion in countries like Saudi Arabia, just as Beef O’ Brady’s has done. Wok Chi is a healthier version of Chinese food, the company says, without the greasy batter found in most take-out Chinese restaurants. Owners plan on opening in Brandon at 2420 W. Brandon Blvd. in late April. Customers order up front, food is cooked fresh on site and check prices average about $12 with a drink. If all goes well, they’ll target more locations in the area. Genghis Grill already has locations in Brandon and Carrollwood but could open a half dozen more in the region soon. The Mongolian-style barbecue restaurant has dozens of locations nationwide. It has a focus on healthy eating, with table service, and is targeting sites in Wesley Chapel and St. Petersburg. The burrito restaurant Lime Fresh may remind customers of a Chipotle, but with more selection and much more of a party atmosphere, with louder music, an outdoor patio and an overall experience akin to its home base near South Beach in Miami. The first location here will be a spot next to the new The Container Store at West Shore and Boy Scout boulevards.

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