Couple out at Wimauma Restaurant
Chef Gary Moran and his wife Amy are no longer a part of the ownership of Wimauma restaurant on South MacDill Avenue in Tampa.
Amy Moran says a dispute with a major investor led to the couple to sell their stake in the restaurant after a meeting at 5 p.m. Thursday. The couple, she says, own 83 percent of the business. The choice was to either buy out the investor or take their money out and move to a new project, she says.
“It was time to go in a new direction,” she said this afternoon. “We had a disagreement with our investors, a difference of opinion on where to go with the restaurant.”
The couple opened Wimauma in December 2011 after walking out of the former Knife & Co. on Kennedy Boulevard four days after opening in November of that year. The restaurant eventually reopened as Edison Food + Drink Lab with chef Jeannie Pierola.
The Moran's received favorable reviews for their “cracker meets cuisine” food, which focused on using Florida ingredients. In 2012, the restaurant on a Best New Restaurant award from Florida Trend magazine's Golden Spoon Awards.
On Feb. 1, Amy Moran took over management of the Winthrop Barn, an event facility on Bloomingdale Avenue in Brandon. That arrangement ended this week as well. Earlier this week, Gary Moran held a Spanish dinner demonstration at the facility.
Without her them to manage and market the restaurant, business dropped by about 30 percent at Wimauma. The drop was acceptable, she said, because the barn operation was highly profitable. Also, their rent had recently been lowered and they were planning to expand into an adjoining space and pick up a full liquor license.
“We were doing more in a day at the barn than we were in a week here,” she said. “But we were still doing good volume.”
Moran said they plan to open another restaurant, just not like the quick turnaround that created Wimauma.
“I promise you I'm not going to work at our quick, crazy pace,” she said. “I'm going to take at least a couple weeks.”
Then she added, “Although we did go look at one last night.”