Eager for a peek inside the Ulele Restaurant?
A ticket to the 13th Annual Tampa Heights Tour of Homes
will put you there for a tantalizing behind the curtain view of Tampa's next hot dining spot, opening soon inside the city's historical Water Works building. The approximately $4 million restoration is about two months away from completion.
But Richard Gonzmart and The Columbia Restaurant Group are opening Ulele
's doors as a special showcase and the final stop on Tampa Heights' home tour. Other stops include nine homes, mostly in the Victorian and Craftsman-bungalow styles; the Tampa Heights Community Garden; and, a historical church being restored as the new home for Tampa Heights Community Center.
The restaurant and Tampa's planned redesign of the adjacent Water Works Park are part of a broader plan to revitalize the city's first suburb, built in the 1880s on "the heights" above the Hillsborough River. Ulele's menu will feature Native American and multicultural influences.
"A few months ago, it was just a shell. Now there is quite a bit there," says Brian Seel, senior project engineer at The Beck Group of Tampa
, the project's designer. "It will be really interesting for people to see it close to completion."
Seel is the president of the Tampa Heights Civic Association, the tour's sponsor.
The tour is from noon to 5 p.m. on Feb. 23. Tickets are $8 in advance, $10 the day of the event. The starting point is the historical Faith Temple Missionary Baptist Church at the corner of Palm and Lamar avenues. The church, like the Water Works, is undergoing a restoration to convert the 90-year-old structure into a community center and home base for Tampa Heights Junior Civic Association.
A portion of the proceeds from this year's tour will benefit restoration efforts, which are headed toward a summer completion. The association provides after-school, mentoring and summer programs for area children.
"That and Water Works mean a lot for our neighborhood," Seel says. "We're very excited for them to open."
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Brian Seel, Tampa Heights Civic Association