In early May, the Bay area vegan community was digging for details about an addition to Tampa's Seminole Heights neighborhood.
"COMING SOON," reads the banner, which quietly cropped up at a new restaurant and retail development across the street from Trip's Diner. "GREEN HOUSE Modern Vegan Kitchen."
Chef-owner Brett Wright, who's been cooking locally and beyond for 25 years, is the culinary mind behind Green House Modern Vegan Kitchen. The plant-based restaurant has made 6402 N. Florida Ave. its home, and Wright hopes to open the doors in late August — if not sooner.
Once the chef gets a new permit from the city, construction on the 1,000-square-foot space — featuring an open kitchen and up to 38 seats — will begin. Wright wants each dining experience to feel intimate and comfortable for guests while he and chef James Brantner focus on what really matters: the food.
Wright has also invested in the 1,000-square-foot property next door to Green House, however, to accommodate large parties or vegan business gatherings.
"I don't like pulling tickets. I'd rather be cooking with my team," the chef told CL. "I figured if I put too many seats [in the restaurant] then I'm going to lose focus on the guests' experience."
Committed to veganism for years, Wright wants to transform the way people view vegan cuisine. Green House, a concept nearly five years in the making, will offer a seasonal menu to highlight local fruits and vegetables.
The chef says the bill of fare was designed to put an elevated twist on the food he ate while growing up and traveling the world.
"I wanted to find dishes I love and substitute the meat for vegetables with a spin to remind patrons of the original dish. These are elevated dishes I make at home for my family," he said.
After Green House is up and running, Wright's goal is to acquire a plot of land and become self-sustaining by growing his own ingredients. The Florida heat can take a toll on plants, of course, which is why a greenhouse is on the agenda as well. So far, the chef has started incorporating an herb wall by the eatery's front window, harvesting seeds from all over the country along with edible flowers.
Other wall ornaments will include photographs of Tampa Bay and its inhabitants, captured by photographer Frantz James Gaillard.
Green House is BYOB as of now, but down the line, Wright plans to roll out a vegan bar program driven by the fermented liquor creations of chef Brantner, a graduate of Johnson & Wales University who's been featured in the Michelin Guide for his mixology.
In Seminole Heights, the restaurant joins another forthcoming vegan kitchen, 3 Dot Dash, whose summer opening CL covered last month. Green House's anticipated hours of operation are 4 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. On Sundays, as a way to help grow the local food scene, the restaurant will be dedicated to up-and-coming chefs who are looking to host pop-ups.
This idea is carried over to a second project Wright is working on. According to the chef — who was initially tapped to help take over the iconic Nicko's diner on Florida Avenue, but the owner of the property has since decided to go a different direction — he also intends to launch a cafeteria-style concept on Nebraska Avenue near the end of the year that allows chefs in the community to test out their products.
"I want to use my space to help those who are beginning their journey," Wright said, "as it was done for me by other chefs."