A little past 8 p.m. on Friday, May 23, the single-file line out Casita Taqueria’s new doors remained lengthy, even as its grand reopening celebration in St. Pete's Grand Central District was beginning to wind down.
Herds of dedicated diners kept this taco stalwart and her pals from noshing on our preferred Casita bowls that evening. The restaurant was slammed.
On the second day of operation, according to co-owner Don Arvin, the Mexican joint had to close an hour early because it ran out of some meats, as well as its coveted tortillas. Though the restaurant wasn’t serving on Memorial Day, the staff occupied the kitchen anyway, preparing for the following day.
Arvin said he served beverages to those braving the line during those busy first couple of days, talking with diners as much as he could. Mayor Rick Kriseman couldn’t resist stopping by Casita last week either.
As the reopening approached, Arvin had expressed the hope that fans from the restaurant's former location would find him. Not to worry; on May 30, he told CL, “Our Fourth Street regulars have been showing up in droves.”
Down on the bayou
Suzanne and Roger Perry, the minds behind Datz and Dough in Tampa, will begin slinging Creole and Cajun cuisine at Roux, their latest restaurant project, by the end of the month.
Roux sits in the old Wimauma space at 4205 S. MacDill Ave., and the Perrys have wasted no time previewing their offerings to Bay area foodies. They've asked for feedback, too.
Recipes for items like shrimp and crab gumbo, along with crawfish etouffee, have been tested on Datz diners since April. As early as the end of March, Roux desserts and muffuletta bread were created in-house at Dough.
On May 27, a pre-grand opening event at Roux gave 50 guests a taste of 17 dishes and New Orleans-accented cocktails like the classic Sazerac. The fare included char-grilled Louisiana oysters, turtle soup, smoked shiitake mushroom ravioli, and bite-sized baked Alaska.
This fall, American cuisine will be served up in Seminole Heights at Lysa and Michael Bozel’s Bourgeois Pig, which is nestled in an historic home on North Nebraska Avenue.
With In Bloom Catering and Event Planning hiring the staff and creating a menu that includes soups, sandwiches, fish and salads, the restaurant plans to launch around October or November.
Lysa said she’s heard complaints from Bay area diners about the service they receive in some restaurants. Prioritizing the dining experience, the Tampa nonprofit Treehouse Hospitality Experience will train the Bourgeois Pig’s staff a month before opening day.
“They won’t just throw on an apron,” she said. “People will know your name.”
Bozel described the restaurant’s interior as trendy and bohemian. In addition to period furniture from the 1800s and early 1900s, a fireplace and crystal chandelier will adorn the main dining room.
Other features include vegan and dog-friendly menus, a full bar and seating options inside or out for more than 100.