For the past five years, Ty Rodriguez and chef Ferrel Alvarez have operated one of Tampa Bay’s favorite restaurants: Rooster & the Till
. Now, the pair has teamed up with co-owner Chon Nguyen to open a different kind of concept spot called Nebraska Mini-Mart
Located in an old drive-through at 4815 N. Nebraska Ave, just a block north of East Osborne Avenue, Nebraska Mini-Mart combines good food and drink with events and activities meant to encourage clientele to hang around.
“Our idea was never to have just one restaurant,” Rodriguez says. “But we wanted to provide a space that was unique. We found the property to be intriguing and it really got our wheels spinning.”
For the past two years, Rodriguez and his partners have spent around $400,000 renovating the acre-and-a-half property, including adding courts for bocce ball and shuffleboard courts. “Anything you can play in one hand and have a free hand to either drink or eat is a crowd favorite,” Rodriguez says. Shuffleboard and bocce prices cost $5 to $12, depending on when you play (weekend evening beings the most expensive).
They gutted the 1950s building, replaced the old kitchen, added a bar, and built a communal dining. And yes
, Rodriguez stresses, they have air-conditioning.
The food menu includes creative takes on classics like chicken wings with a Malaysian chili paste, a reimagined Big Mac called the “Pig Mac,” and Korean cheesesteak with bulgogi, kimchi, and gochujang mayo. “We wanted the ‘stoner food’ kind of deal,” Rodriguez says. “Something that was filling but elevated to our standards.” Prices range from $6 to $12.
The alcohol options include frozen drinks, wines, and beers. Soon they'll even offer a range from 8-ounce cans of Budweiser to 40 ounces of rosé (presumably to be shared).
Nebraska Mini-Mart has been open since mid-August, and although business has been fair, Rodriguez says he’s looking forward to the crowds picking up in the coming months. "Once the weather breaks and the rain stops, this thing is going to hopefully be everything we imagined it to be."