The other day I heard an ad on the radio for an event at Zapps in Brandon. I've lived in Brandon for most of my life but I had never heard of Zapps. Turns out it is a new sports bar opening on the southeast side of the Brandon Town Center - it will never be Westfield to me.
And you might know the property's history. Not too long ago it was home to the Boomerang Martini Bar, where a murder took place in the parking lot. Before that, it had been home to Club Fluid, where someone was killed.
The owners of Zapps are also aware of what proceeded it. When it first opened, their signage said, "Sports Bar, Not A Night Club." And with two prominent sports bars within a 90-second walk - Barnacles and Buffalo Wild Wings - competition is tough. So I decided to check the place out with my father, Tampa Tribune columnist Joe Henderson, and my mother to see if Zapps had anything to distinguish it from their neighbors.
The first thing I noticed inside was the smell of chicken wings - a sure indication of a sports bar. The layout had a lowered center area, probably what was once a dance floor, complete with a stage. To the outer edges was more seating that featured a bar, pool tables and arcade games. There was also a patio area.
The obvious draw were the big TVs. The center area had one big TV where a feature game could be shown. All along the outer edges were a combination of big and small TVs. If Zapps is showing the game you want to see, you shouldn't have too much difficulty watching it no matter where you sit.
The menu featured mostly standard sports bar food: burgers, wings, pizza, etc. And, the drink menu had a solid number of options beyond Budwiser and Miller Lite. Since we were there on 50-cent wing night, we shared some as an appetizer.
For an entree, my mother got a hamburger, my dad got a basket of clams and I got pulled pork with yellow rice and black beans. Everything was solid. The wings were crispy and my pulled pork was moist. My parents were satisfied with their meal as well.
The only complaints that I had was that the service seemed just a touch off. Our waitress made no mention of the special - we discoverd it thanks to a sign in the corner. And mom's burger had some items on it that she had specifically requested not to be there.
Overall, I think Zapps is a good option if you're looking for a sports-themed dining experience. Zapps' prices are solid - the whole meal, including my beer, came to $35 - and I think its TV set up is a little bit better than most other establishments I've been to. Whether Brandon is ready for another sports bar is for the market to determine, but I think Zapps is worth checking out.