Temple Terrace and the USF area will soon have a new option when it comes to Tex-Mex food.
Fuzzy's Taco Shop
will be opening at 5621 E. Fowler Ave. in the former Clubhouse Sports Grill at Terrace Walk Plaza after the New Year.
"Most likely it'll open the first week of January," says Tampa-native Ian Lieberman, who owns the location with his brother, Adam Lieberman, and Adam's wife, J-Ray Lieberman.
The trio opened their first Fuzzy's franchise in Brandon
in February, which Ian says has received a favorable response from the community.
He says he thinks that's because Fuzzy's takes a different view on Tex-Mex from other similar-style restaurants, like Chipotle, Qudoba, Tiajuana Flats or Taco Bus. He calls Fuzzy's the next generation of fast casual, offering food made from scratch and a full liquor bar.
"It all starts with the food," he says. "But beyond that, I think that the restaurant business is more competitive today than it's ever been. If you're not showing an attention to detail for the things that customers actually want, then you're not creating that experience."
"That experience" is a focus on great food, great service, and a great atmosphere.
"You have to have all three," Lieberman says.
Fuzzy's Taco Shop originated in Ft. Worth, Texas, in 2001 with a fast-casual concept. Patrons order at the counter and retrieve their food shortly afterward. But Fuzzy's locations in the Tampa Bay area also offer full-service dining, Ian said.
The trio is investing between $750,000 and $1 million in the Temple Terrace/USF location, which will feature a large, garden-style patio with truck-bed seating, large communal style tables, a live music stage for local singers and DJs, 16 beers on tap, a full liquor bar with six barrels of signature frozen cocktails, and countless margarita flavors.
They're hoping to attract students, business people, and local families. Ian points to the University of South Florida, Moffitt Cancer Center, Telecom Park and young families moving to Temple Terrace as reasons why they chose to open a location in the area.
"I think that all of the writing is on the wall for a good period of growth in the next 20 years," he says.
In fact, Ian says Temple Terrace has been on their radar for more than two years because it has low crime, a high percentage of families, and is heavily trafficked by USF.
"Before we even signed our documents, we were already working on this location," he says.
And Ian says Fuzzy's plans to give back to the area, partnering with local non-profits.
"Us being local, we put a tremendous amount of involvement in the community as well," he says. "It's important to give back."
Next, the trio has their sights set on other future Fuzzy's locations in the Tampa Bay area. Ian says they have the rights to build franchises in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties, and they have at least five franchises currently in the works. They plan to open the next one in Wesley Chapel in 2018.
"We just love making tacos and selling cold beer," Ian says. "We're pretty excited about this stuff."
In addition to tacos, the Temple Terrace/USF Fuzzy's location will offer a wide array of handmade enchiladas, salads, nachos, jumbo burritos and quesadillas. Tacos start at $2.19 ($1.59 on Tuesday), jumbo burritos are $6-$8, and dinner plates range from $6-$11 for the most expensive item in the restaurant. There will also be a Munchkin’ Mondays, where kids can eat for free.
For more information, visit Fuzzy's on Facebook