Restaurant news: St. Pete Brasserie opens 539 Lounge, new Bella Brava a shade 'greener', Tampa gets Hard Rock Cafe and more

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Floyd's night club at The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has recently closed its doors (did anyone notice?) to make way for yet another incarnation of the Hard Rock Cafe that's set to open by year's end. The restaurant will be 17,500 square feet and chock full of rock and roll memorabilia, overpriced food and drinks, and, of course, an official Hard Rock store where tourists can purchase shirts and nick-nacks with 'Hard Rock' Tampa emblazoned on them. Though I do have to say that the table side touch screens where guests can vote on music videos played in the restaurant is a fun concept.

5223 Orient Road., Tampa. 866-502-7529.

A little bird told me that Mellow Mushroom Pizza will be opening a new location in Hyde Park Village in the spot formerly occupied by the Cactus Club. Now you won't have to drive out to Brandon or Westchase to get your fix of gourmet pizza and great craft beers on tap.

1601 West Snow Ave., Tampa.

The fifth World of Beer franchise in Tampa Bay is set to open in Hyde Park, giving MacDinton's and The Dubliner a run for their money. Now no matter where you live in Tampa, you'll have a World of Beer within about a 10-mile radius!

402 South Howard Ave., Tampa.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wilkins (Wilko) of the St. Pete Brasserie.


The new Bella Brava in Downtown St. Pete is officially open for business in its Beach Drive location, sporting a revamped menu and cocktail list. According to their website, they've given the whole place a 'green' makeover: locally-sourced food (whenever possible), CFL lighting, low-flow bathroom fixtures and dishwashers, low-VOC and non-toxic paint on the walls and floor stains, and recyclable to-go containers.

204 Beach Drive NE, Saint Pete. 727-895-5515.

Last week, we reported on the St. Pete Brasserie's second location, La Petite Brasserie, opening in Clearwater. This week, Wilko brings us even more good news with the opening of their new lounge at their Central Avenue spot. 539 Lounge (pictured) is now open in the formerly unused, detached dining room of the Brasserie. The lounge will be open for lunch Monday through Friday at 11 a.m., serve a late night menu and will have live music on Wednesday through Saturday nights starting at 9 p.m.

539 Central Ave., St. Pete. 727-823-3700.

Alright, it's not a restaurant, but I still thought that the new Spice & Tea Exchange in International Plaza Mall was worth adding to this list because of all the culinary delights they have to offer. Smell and sample over 160 exotic spices and herbs from around the globe, over 60 custom spice blends, two dozen different mineral and sea salts (I recommend the Alder wood smoked salt), naturally flavored sugars and an array of loose teas. Everything can be purchased in sample or full size portions.

2223 N. West Shore Blvd. #104, Tampa. 813-443-0684.

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