Richard Hales is turning Tampa’s Pop ‘N Sons diner into a new location for his Bird & Bone concept

It soft opens in Drew Park next month and will begin lunch service in May.

click to enlarge BIRD & BONE/FACEBOOK
Bird & Bone/Facebook

Last time Creative Loafing spoke to Grateful Hospitality chef/co-founder Richard Hales, he detailed ideas about bringing his Miami concepts to Tampa and revamping local staple Pop ‘N Sons diner. Hales noticed how the food scene in Tampa grew every time he came back for a visit. He saw how the city progressed with food trucks and other chef-driven concepts and got a bit of FOMO. He moved his family back to Tampa last year to start the process of bringing his Miami-based Grateful Hospitality concepts to the 813.

In a new chat with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, said that when started working on bringing the 24-hour diner back to life after it closed March 2020, he realized it wouldn’t be feasible to revive. Hales said previous owner Jerry Reavis expressed his concerns about running the business and how the last few years prior to COVID-19 were challenging. “As we got into it, between the building and changes we had to make, we found out it wasn’t really something we could really revive. We decided very early it would be better to bring one of our concepts to the space,” he explained.

Opening a restaurant during this period of time provided for a different set of challenges from hiring staff to licensing. “It’s uncharted territory where you have to pivot daily. You can’t plan or think about anything,” he said.

So now, Hales’ Bird & Bone concept will take over the old diner’s space at 4812 N Dale Mabry Hwy. Since this is his first restaurant in Tampa, Hale wanted to make it one of his established concepts. Hales describes the restaurant as an “American, seasonal, chef-driven” restaurant.

The food on Bird & Bone’s menu is made-from-scratch and will lean heavily on signature dishes like its Nashville hot chicken and snapper dish with tomato gravy. The menu will incorporate dishes from the recently-shuttered Miami Beach Bird & Bone location plus popular dishes from the other Grateful Hospitality concepts Society BBQ, Sakaya Kitchen, and Blackbrick Chinese. Vegan and vegetarian options will be available. Patrons can even pair a meal with one of the restaurant’s signature cocktails like The Copper Cucumber or the Purdy Pear. A full dinner meal per person lands in the $30 range. A lunch meal rings in at less than $20.

“We’re coming with our guns loaded. We’re not trying to pigeonhole ourselves into just ‘Southern’ food,” Hales said. 

Bird & Bone soft opens for dinner in late April. Weekend brunch and lunch will start in May followed by a grand opening. The restaurant space can sit guests inside and outside. Outside seating includes a patio area with covered seating plus several picnic tables. Safety protocols following local, state, and federal mandates are in place for COVID-19 if a staff member tests positive.

Bird & Bone’s soft opening hours of operation will be Tuesday-Thursday 5 p.m.- 10 p.m., Friday-Saturday 5 p.m.-11 p.m., and Sunday 5 p.m.- 10 p.m. Weekend brunch is every Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Lunch will be served Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

“We have big aspirations to change this area, this block, and Drew Park,” Hales said. “There can be something great and nice in this area that’s seasonal and chef-driven.”

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