Why Ybor? The Hyppo on its latest pop shop's location

Details on The Hyppo's newest Bay area store underway at Centro Ybor.

click to enlarge The Hyppo will likely debut its creative ice pop flavors to historic Ybor City in two weeks. - The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops
The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops
The Hyppo will likely debut its creative ice pop flavors to historic Ybor City in two weeks.

Centro Ybor will soon see the opening of three new food and drink destinations. Among them is St. Augustine transplant The Hyppo Gourmet Ice Pops, whose artisan popsicles debuted to Tampa Bay at its downtown St. Pete digs in September 2015.

Taking a break from laying subway tiles Tuesday afternoon, manager David Luddeke, who oversees the St. Pete and Ybor City stores, sees parallels between St. Pete's rebirth and the growth potential of Ybor.

Luddeke puts it simply: "Eventually [Ybor's] just gonna be like, 'Whoa.'"

The 600 Block has been a roller coaster for The Hyppo — in a thrilling, good-for-business kind of way. The Hyppo wants to play a role in a similar revitalization in Ybor.

"Ybor used to be like this dark, weird place, at least in my mind when I was a kid," says Luddeke, referring to the neighborhood's "stigma" when he was growing up in Tampa. "But it's really an awesome place. There's a lot of cool businesses, a lot of fun things to do, and so we're trying to be part of that."

With a little more than 20 seats, the Ybor Hyppo will be very similar to the St. Pete location, with counter and table seating, a drink cooler and 50-plus ice pop flavors spread out across three freezer chests. The space (the former Centro Ybor home of Joffrey's, which moved to 15th Street and Eighth Avenue) hasn't called for any major renovations. Simple measures — like ripping out old cabinets and putting in new floors — are being taken to make it feel clean and decorative.

Patrons can also expect to see the work of St. Pete artist Melodious Monster, a friend of Luddeke's who's behind the mural at the St. Pete location, incorporated into the pop shop.

"She has a really fun style; interesting, creative thought process behind her work. I've always loved her art," he says.

The production crew at the Hyppo kitchen in St. Augustine is constantly churning out popsicles based on the season and fruit availability. In total, the company has created 500-plus inventive flavors — key lime and dark roast espresso among them — for special orders and events, plus its seven (soon to be eight) Florida stores.

If the shop were to become a "point of interaction," where people could grab a pop, socialize or network during the day, Luddeke says, that would be awesome. And folks out and about in the evening? Them, too.

How late the Ybor location will operate is tentative, but after the store opens in a couple of weeks, it plans to experiment with the hours to get a feel of the crowd.

"I've met some people who are out here for a good time on like a Wednesday night, and one of them stopped me and was like, 'Where are the popsicles?,' so I'm excited to be a part of that fun atmosphere, too," Luddeke says. "If people are walking around and they need a place to stop in, I want to be that place."

When asked if The Hyppo was looking into other locations in Tampa, the manager gave CL a playful "maybe."

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