Plano-Texas, based Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar has opened its first Florida location in Tampa's International Plaza. <span class='image-credits'>Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar</span>

Whiskey Cake picks Tampa for 1st place outside Southwest

Dallas-area bred Whiskey Cake Kitchen & Bar’s mix of craft cocktails and farm-to-fork dishes is the latest addition to the dining and drinking scene at International Plaza.

Tampa is Whiskey Cake’s seventh location, but joins Oklahoma City as the only places outside of Texas. Whiskey Cake CEO Steve Shlemon is a former president and longtime executive with Carrabba’s Grill. His familiarity with the Bay Area market played into the decision to establish a foothold in Tampa before potentially expanding in the Sunshine State to areas like Orlando and Fort Myers.

“The city of Tampa is a growth market with a great restaurant scene,” says Shlemon, who joined Whiskey Cake parent company Front Burner Restaurants in late 2017.

Honing in on the Westshore District, in particular, Shlemon says the mix of malls, office complexes, and hotels will create a vibrant customer base.

Within International Plaza, Shlemon says Whiskey Cake will carve out a niche for itself with hand-prepared dishes made-from-scratch with fresh, local ingredients. Each location has an on-site herb garden. Before construction, the restaurant sends out chefs to source as much product as possible from within 100 miles and lists local vendors and suppliers on its website. Tampa’s Birds of a Feather Coffee Company, and Gulf Coast Sourdough & Wild Yeast Breads, and The Revolution Ice Cream Co. out of Seminole Heights are among the local companies supplying the International Plaza location.

In another local touch, Shlemon says the craft beer selection in the bar will feature 16 Bay Area brews to go along with Whiskey Cake’s selection of more than 350 whiskeys, including ryes and bourbons. Bartenders will specialize in hand-crafted cocktails with ingredients such as house-made bitters and grenadine. To attract both the after-work crowd and people out for the evening, there will be “social hour” drink specials from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to close.

The nearly 8,000-square-foot location has seating for approximately 250, including a patio and bar with room for 40. There is also a private dining area with a 46-person capacity. Dallas-based Civitarese/Morgan Architecture’s design for the restaurant drew inspiration from an industrial warehouse.

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