TAMPA - It isn't just a dining experience; it's a flight around the world.
Flight, a restaurant that recently opened on North Dale Mabry Highway, isn't simply a place to have a meal. Owner and founder Mike Lau says Flight is more of an experience than a regular restaurant.
"We take you on a trip around the world," Lau said. "I've done a lot of traveling and experienced a lot of cultures and I have always thought of great things to eat all over the world. That's what Flight is all about."
Lau opened his establishment a year ago and it is not the typical Dale Mabry strip mall restaurant. It is high-tech with a dark atmosphere, with walls adorned by paintings done by local artists. There is music, but the band is inside an enclosed room, so the noise isn't intrusive. There is only one Flight, so it isn't one of the mass market establishments and Lau said he wants to keep it that way.
"We wanted to do something different," Lau said. "What kind of restaurant do we want? We decided we would take our guests on a trip around the world."
The waitresses at Flight are dressed as flight attendants and the chairs are much like those you would find on an airplane. Flight even offers a "frequent flier" program where guests can earn points to save on future meals.
There are six "flights," meals that are part of the chef-designed dinner meals. "Passengers" who order one of the flights can move up to "first class" with $4 off of any bottle of wine. The flights consist of Caribbean Island Getaway, Mediterranean Passport, Asian Excursion, Gateway to the South, Eastern European Backpacker and North East Passage. There also are appetizers, soups and salads.
Lau, who was born in Tampa, describes his menu as "global gourmet tapas." He said it is the only such restaurant in the Tampa Bay area.
"We are growing fast for our first year," Lau said. "We are in an area that is developing as a restaurant hub in Tampa. We are working to be a part of the community."
"Support local, eat local," Lau said, is the theme at Flight, and the restaurant is already making a difference. A recent event to support ALS research was a big success. Flight also is working on events to support cancer research and the Make A Wish Foundation. Proceeds from the restaurant's artwork go straight to the artists, except for 20 percent that goes to local charities.
Lau doesn't do much advertising. He wants his clientele to build by word of mouth. He visits each table to make sure the customers are happy and said it is starting to pay off.
"Food is a passion for me," Lau said. "We want to be cool and trendy, but we want everyone to come back. We think it is working."
Flight is at 15463 N. Dale Mabry Highway in Tampa.