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New restaurants cater to Seminole Heights crowd

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Published:   |   Updated: October 22, 2013 at 06:18 AM

The list of hip, new restaurants in Seminole Heights is growing again.

Besides several new craft cocktail bars and upscale brewing spots, a pair of restaurant entrepreneurs are now renovating a historic bungalow to become “The Bourgeois Pig,” at 7701 N. Nebraska Ave., which will have an eclectic American menu and quirky design inside.

“The style inside is going to be decadent,” said Lysa Bozel, who bought the building in June with her husband Michael. “It’s going to be almost bordello; not like anything seen here in Tampa.”

All together, the neighborhood is fast becoming the hippest spot for new restaurants, bars and food joints in the Tampa region.

For instance, Jet City Espresso now occupies a small space in South Tampa in a two-story bungalow, but it’ll soon add another location in Seminole Heights after the owners purchased a spot at 5803 N. Florida Ave. That will be a welcome addition, as the Starbucks coffee shop is regularly overrun.

Jet City will go into a spot now occupied by Jai Dee yoga, which will still operate there for a few months until they find a new spot. Jet City owner Jessica Glover is a long-time coffee shop entrepreneur who has opened a string of cafes, both in Seattle, and in Tampa. Her signature drink is a “Borgia,” a latte infused with nutmeg and orange zest, and she’ll sell a string of baked goods.

A permanent farmer’s market/grocery is gearing up operations after building out a large, shed-like building at the corner of Florida Avenue and Hillsborough Avenue — one of the highest traffic intersections in the city. The interior is not yet built out, so the owners have set up a farmstand operation out front, selling fruits, veggies and pumpkins for Halloween.

The neighborhood already has highly acclaimed spots like The Refinery and Ella’s Folk Art Cafe, as well as indi-brew hangouts like The Independent and Mermaid Tavern, and long-time stalwarts like The Front Porch Grill & Bar and Stephanno’s Pizza.

Next up are a slew of newcomers, including Fodder & Shine that’s being built by the owners of The Refinery, which will have Florida “Cracker Cuisine.” The craft beer bar Rooster & The Till is under construction and could open in the next few months, and Angry Chair Brewery is under development as well. Domani Bistro Lounge is regularly busy, even on weeknights. A slew of these food spots formed the backbone of the Taste of the Heights food festival last weekend, where neighbors could buy tickets for food and cocktails, as well as tours of the area’s backyard gardens. The event sold out.

One big advantage that the Bourgeois Pig will have is ample parking. Unlike a few restaurant newcomers to the area, they’ll have upward of 30 spaces on site. A former mayor of Tampa once lived in that house, which is just a few blocks south of the river. There will be 50 or so seats inside, and 50 outside.

Lysa Bozel is an entrepreneur who has run spas in Los Angeles, and with her husband Michael, she also runs Mockingbird Vacation Rentals in Seminole Heights. To make sure their restaurant project gets off the ground, they’ve hired a professional consultant who is helping lead the design, equipment installation, menu development and even recruiting efforts. They plan to start with a wine and beer license, and then seek a full liquor license sometime in the future.

Compared to other quirky gourmet cuisine places nearby, the Bourgeois Pig will have a more accessible menu, with items like fish tacos, lettuce cups, soups, salads, chicken wraps and Thai salads. Prices won’t exceed $14 for any one item.

“We want people to frequent our place on a regular basis,” Lysa said. “If you go any higher in prices than that, people will only come once in a while. We want people to feel like this is their home away from home.”

rmullins@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7919

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