There's good news and bad news for fans of Indian food in downtown Tampa.
The fast-casual Indian food restaurant Tun-Du-Ree has closed its location on Bay to Bay Boulevard, and has closed the location on Kennedy Boulevard, too — but for a good reason. They're moving into a much larger, new downtown space on Franklin Street that once held the nightclub "Metro," and Tun-Du-Ree food is showing up in lots more places around town.
"The retail locations were a good opportunity, but we're growing too much in other areas," said Saravana "Pat" Bhava, founder and manager of Tun-Du-Ree, which originally started in a food truck parked deep in South Tampa.
Unlike many Indian buffet restaurants, Tun-Du-Ree focuses on a "fast casual" format, for which customers line up to pick their items one by one.
To expand beyond retail restaurants, Bhava recently made deals with the food service giant Aramark Corp., that puts his food in scores of corporate cafeterias around town, including PricewaterhouseCoopers, J.P. Morgan Chase, St. Joseph's hospitals and soon the University of South Florida. That food sells under the brand name "Spiceline."
That kind of work required a much larger kitchen than those at restaurants in strip malls, and the Franklin Street location has a large enough kitchen to expand. The former Metro location will take some renovation, and opening day may not come until December.
At lunch, they'll have a similar pick-and-choose customer experience with take-away items ranging from $6 to $7, rather than a buffet. At dinner they'll have a more formal table service.
"You'll soon find changes popping up at the Franklin Street spot," Bhava said. "We won't be hard to notice."