New vegan restaurant set to open March 1 in South Tampa

Keith Sedita has deep roots in the restaurant business. So when he and his family had trouble finding plant-based eateries in his South Tampa neighborhood, he saw an opportunity.

As a result, Sedita and his wife Jill plan to open Florish -- a fast casual restaurant on S. Dale Mabry Highway across from Plant High School featuring vegan pizzas and bowls.

“As a family of four looking for places to eat in Tampa, it’s difficult when you’re vegan. That’s what really inspired us,” explains Keith Sedita, who previously served as operating partner for Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and vice president of new business development for Columbia Restaurant Group.

It was the couple’s sons, 18-year-old Demetri and 15-year-old Ethan, who adopted a vegan lifestyle first. 

“They just kind of lead the way and we followed,” says Jill Sedita, who was vegetarian for about 10 years before becoming vegan.

The restaurant has seating for 30, 22 inside and eight outside on the front patio. Patrons can order online and pickup, order signature dishes or create their own with help from the staff and eat in.

“A lot of people from different age groups now are more curious about the plant-based lifestyle,” she asserts, “We think Tampa is ready for this. ... We’re really excited to be able to offer that in the community in a convenient and approaching way, in a way that is familiar.”

Florish, set to open March 1, aims to attract a broad-based group, not just those who frequent the gym or eat 100 percent vegan.

“We want it to be an easier choice,” she explains. “That’s why we are focusing on flavors and textures.”

The atmosphere is bright and laid back; the restaurant will feature a playlist of popular music targeting varied age groups.

Florish will be open Tuesdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; expanded hours are planned in the not-too-distant future.

Florish is looking to hire 10 people for its team, including line servers, prep cooks, and dishwashers for part-time or full-time positions. Pay ranges from $12 to $15 an hour.

Employees must be at least 18 years old and have reliable transportation, be willing to take direction, and be team-oriented.

In the long term, the Seditas already are looking beyond its initial location.

“We’re not planning to do one location,” Keith Sedita points out. “Once we get this open, we’re excited to look at other opportunities we have in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Sarasota, and beyond.”

The initial goal is proving the concept works. 

“We have to do this right, make sure our team is excited and enjoys what we’re doing,” he explains. “The customers will feel that and continue to support us.”

With increased interest in nationwide delivery and subscription services as a result of COVID-19, they are watching the market for the best way to make their product more accessible to more people.

“We are definitely keeping our options open,” Jill Sedita says.

Read more articles by Cheryl Rogers.

Cheryl Rogers is a freelance writer and editor who enjoys writing about careers. An ebook author, she also writes Bible Camp Mystery series that shares her faith. She is publisher of New Christian Books Online Magazine and founder of the Mentor Me Career Network, a free online community, offering career consulting, coaching and career information. Now a wife and mother, Cheryl discovered her love of writing as a child when she became enthralled with Nancy Drew mysteries. She earned her bachelor's degree in Journalism and Sociology from Loyola University in New Orleans. While working at Loyola's Personnel Office, she discovered her passion for helping others find jobs. A Miami native, Cheryl moved to the Temple Terrace area in 1985 to work for the former Tampa Tribune