But as restaurateurs know, plans change.
Now, Hales and the Grateful Hospitality Group will now be opening Blackbrick—a modern Chinese restaurant— out of the space at 4812 N Dale Mabry Hwy. instead.
“The pause in opening Bird & Bone (caused by delays in licensing) gave Chef Richard Hales a moment to study the Tampa Bay market firsthand, to live in, and become part of the community,” Dominique Mealey, Director of Marketing and Brand Strategy for Grateful Hospitality Group, tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “As part of that process, he realized Blackbrick was needed and a better complement to Tampa’s ever growing dining scene.”
Grateful Hospitality Group, which Chef Hales operates with his wife Jenny Hales, are the folks behind popular concepts like Hales Society BBQ, the recently shuttered Bird & Bone in south Florida, and the flagship Blackbrick location in Miami.
Bird & Bone was supposed to continue the old-timey diner feel that Pop 'N Sons carried for years, and push a menu of American comfort classics—but Blackbrick is vastly different from its sibling.
Traditional Chinese cuisine with a southern twist, Blackbrick’s award-winning menu has two different categories of entrees—Our Specialities, that “represent the chef’s style” and Chinese Classics, a self explanatory ode to centuries of tradition. Some of Hales' specialties include General Tso’s Florida gator, Sichuan cumin beef with crispy noodles and fried rice loaded with lobster, shrimp, Cantonese-style BBQ pork, bacon and eggs.
There’s also an extensive selection of dim sum on the menu, featuring traditional small bites like pork and shrimp shumai and har gow crystal shrimp dumplings, alongside Chef Hale creations like the “Miami-style” fried chicken dumpling. Browse the Blackbrick menu to fully prepare for its Tampa debut in a few months.
The New Orleans-native chef is no stranger to the Bay area as grew up here, but Blackbrick will be Hales’ very first restaurant in his hometown. Hales and his family made the move to Tampa earlier this year, so their hospitality group is now based out of the 813.
Blackbrick's only other location is in downtown Miami, nestled between the Wynwood Walls and the Institute of Contemporary Art, and has been highlighted by several news outlets, like Bon Appétit magazine.
Last year during the height of the pandemic, Miami's Blackbrick was featured on a special take-out episode of Food Network’s “Diners Drive-Ins and Dives,” so maybe Hales' bestie Guy Fieri will take an interest in its upcoming Tampa location too.