Vegan soft-serve? Sweet Soul has this and other plant-based items planned in SoHo

What to expect from the latest member of the Ciccio Restaurant Group family.

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click to enlarge Keep an eye out for Sweet Soul, scheduled to debut in SoHo next month. - Courtesy of Sweet Soul
Courtesy of Sweet Soul
Keep an eye out for Sweet Soul, scheduled to debut in SoHo next month.

At this point, SoHo might be called “Little Ciccio.” Most of Ciccio Restaurant Group’s food ventures are quite close to one another within the bustling Tampa neighborhood. And the latest addition to the CRG family — Sweet Soul, opening soon at 1101 S. Howard Ave. — is no different.

Co-owner Taylor Winter, who’s been working with the local restaurant empire for a year or so, developed the idea behind the health-conscious concept, which specializes in vegan- and paleo-friendly menu items like smoothies, acai bowls and soft-serve ice cream.

Customers will also leave with a greater understanding of the paleo diet and veganism, along with superfoods like matcha and lucuma (a Peruvian fruit).

“Sweet Soul Soho means having respect for oneself and what [people] put in their bodies,” according to Winter.

The residents of SoHo piqued Winter’s interest in launching a food spot within the area. It’s got an energetic, exciting vibe, she says, and the large concentration of folks with active lifestyles makes Sweet Soul a great fit, too.

Inside, the newcomer can fit up to six at its bar, while an outdoor area with a few benches seats up to 30. Patrons are encouraged to hang outside, since this is Florida and all, plus that’s where they’ll find a ping-pong table to past the time.

Now — have you ever tried vegan soft-serve? The Sweet Soul dessert is coconut-based and comes in flavors such as charcoal and matcha (additional options are in the works). Winter says that lots of trial and error went into figuring out which nondairy product would work best. The benefit of a coconut base is that it doesn’t compete with other ingredients; instead, it’s easily masked.

As for the smoothies, each combination of fruits and veggies has a purpose, benefiting the body in various ways, whether it be weight loss, memory or strength, for example. Summer Bod (a cocktail of apple, spinach and kale) and Don’t Kill My Vibe (a tropical mix of pineapple, kale and avocado) are among the mashups. Honey, dates, maple syrup and agave are the recommended sweeteners, but they’re not included unless requested. Bonus: Those with nut allergies can substitute almond milk with water or coconut milk.

Future plans for Sweet Soul — whose prices will range from $3 for a ginger-charcoal shot to $12 for bowls — include more plant-based offerings like avocado toast, vegan ice cream for dogs, and an educational course that allows kids to learn about gardening and urban planning.

The little ones won’t have to go far for class, either: There’s a garden connected to the building, where Winter grows avocado and lemon trees, lettuce, kale, pineapple, strawberries and mango. How’s that for locally sourced?

Opening day is scheduled for the first week of February. Sweet Soul expects to operate 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

“We’re going to try and make the most out of it and make this a super-fun place for people to come,” Winter said.

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