Sparkman Wharf features Tampa's favorite restaurants in converted shipping containers

Strategic Property Partners, the developers of Water Street Tampa, is celebrating the opening of 10 new eateries in Sparkman Wharf featuring “new food concepts from Tampa’s most well-known culinary professionals, offering fresh ideas and unique menu items not found anywhere else in the city.’’

In keeping with the historical nature of Port Tampa Bay’s global trade and marine industries, each new food spot is housed within a shipping container and visually wrapped by murals inspired by the Florida habitat and painted by local design firm, Pep Rally. Plenty of seating -- benches, chairs, loungers, steps, grass -- is everywhere. Belly up to a container, place your order and pick a spot to eat.

Fermented RealityThe funky new container restaurants populate a walkable dining garden, along with an open lawn for recreation and relaxation, and Fermented Reality -- an open-air biergarten featuring about 30 of Florida’s best craft beers -- to create a significant new community gathering space on the downtown Tampa waterfront off Garrison Channel.

The Sparkman Wharf scene is “a mix of carefully curated cuisines that ensure there’s something to spark every taste bud,’’ says a news release from SPP. 

It is the first big project to open as part of the Water Street Tampa development by Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and Cascade Investment LLC in downtown Tampa. The official opening was Friday, Nov. 30.

A luxury J.W. Marriott Hotel now under construction is expected to open in 2020. Water Street itself, the main spine of the urban neighborhood being designed as part of a wellness district, is expected to open in 2021.

“Water Street will provide a different vibe, a whole new variety of experiences for downtown Tampa,’’ says James Nozar, CEO of Strategic Property Partners. “Sparkman Wharf is just the beginning, making full use of the waterfront, adding another destination  along the Tampa Riverwalk.’’ 

Here is a list of the new take-out restaurants (some may think of them as akin to parked food trucks):
Boat Run Oyster CompanyBoat Run Oyster Company, developed by SaltBlock Hospitality, is a sustainable concept featuring hand-raised, raw oysters from Cedar Key, Florida.

“At Boat Run, we will offer tide-to-table seafood; seafood that is an expression of the freshest the ocean has to offer at that very moment,’’ says Co-Founder Scott Roberts. "Boutique oysters, stone crab, and local fresh fish will fill our menu.’’

“We could not be more excited about the Sparkman Wharf project -- a waterside curation of culinary creativity and approachable elegance -- as the perfect vessel for us to fulfill our purpose of delivering Boat Run’s flavors to Tampa Bay.’’

To learn more, visit Boat Run's website.   

BT in a BoxBT in a Box will offer on-the-go, small plate tastings from some of the most popular French-Vietnamese-style dishes at BT’s other restaurants in Tampa and around the Bay Area. 

“Our interest in participating in this project started when we were so impressed by the professionalism and courtesy of the company’s representative. It was clear from the beginning that this project was extremely well thought out, offered an exciting new dimension to our downtown waterfront and represented a great confidence in Tampa’s future,’’ says BT Nguyen, Chef-Owner. “SSP [Strategic Property Partners] has since continued to work with us as a partner in the development of the project and has been extremely solicitous of our input, giving us the confidence that this is much more than just a business transaction, but a true investment in the community we love.’’

To learn more, visit BT in a Box's website.

The Corners brings Detroit-style pizza to Tampa’s waterfront. The new concept is the product of a collaboration between Chefs Noel Cruz and Anthony Messina, and Chef Messina will pair his Sicilian grandmother’s original dough recipe with some of the most simple and tasty toppings. To learn more, visit The Corners Pizza's website.

Chef Jeannie Pierola meets the news media.Edison’s Swigamajig, created by Chef Jeannie Pierola, combines the allure of outdoor bohemian dining with a serious seafood menu, craft cocktails, beer, and wine.  Think a spiced-up, modern-day quintessential seafood shack similar to those found in beach towns across Florida. To learn more, visit the swigamajig's website.

Flock & Stock focuses on high-quality American roadside favorites such as burgers, chicken sandwiches and tenders, and fries. 

“I don’t think there’s a more appealing urban development project than Water Street Tampa going on in any other city and Sparkman Wharf is kicking it off,’’ says Dave Burton, Owner-Founder of Flock & Stock, Heights Melt Shoppe at The Hall on Franklin and Gen X Tavern in downtown Tampa. “The culinary talent that’s been assembled is outstanding and we’re humbled and honored to be a part of it. Our inspiration is the classics we all grew up eating and still love, with a focus on roadside and pre-game favorites such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and waffle fries.”

To learn more, visit Flock & Stock's website

Foundation CoffeeFoundation Coffee, owned by Jason and Emily Smith, will feature items like breakfast sandwiches, locally baked pastries, and of course, cold brew, espresso, and more. To learn more, visit Foundation Coffee's website.

Gallito Taqueria, the brainchild of Chef Ferrell Alvarez, is a modern taco shop that features fun twists on classic Mexican street food. To learn more, visit Gallito Taqueria's website.

Montados by Mise en Place will be a Spanish tapas concept paired with sangria by Chef Marty Blitz.

Montados“We are really excited to be a part of the next step in what is the ultimate transformation for Tampa to be the amazing city that it wants to be in Sparkman Wharf,’’ says co-Founder Maryann Ferenc. “We chose tapas, because its more than about the food. It's about the gathering that happens in tapas bars as a tradition. That's what Sparkman Wharf is -- this amazing place where people come from near and far to see one another and to meet new people.”

To learn more, visit Mise en Place's website.

Whatever PopsWhatever Pops, crafted by Chief Chillers, Steve McGlocklin and Nancy Takemori, serves house-made gelato, acai bowls, and ice pops. Everything at Whatever Pops will be made with real, wholesome ingredients.

"The level of detail and care that’s going into the Sparkman Wharf project is just amazing, say McGlocklin and Takemori.  “From waterfront ambiance, tons of seating, programming, and local food choices, there’s really something to make everyone happy. We’re so thrilled and grateful to be part of it."

To learn more, visit Whatever Pops' website.
Sparkman Wharf with USF Medical School under construction nearby.In total, Sparkman Wharf features approximately 180,000 square feet of reimagined, spacious loft-style office space, 65,000 square feet of ground-level retail, and a one-acre dynamic park-like environment in a relaxed, outdoor setting along the Garrison Channel in downtown Tampa. Learn more at Sparkman Wharf's website or follow @SparkmanWharf on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
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Read more articles by Diane Egner.

Diane Egner is a community leader and award-winning journalist with more than four decades of experience reporting and writing about the Tampa Bay Area of Florida. She serves on the boards of the University of South Florida Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications Advisory Council, The Institute for Research in Art (Graphicstudio, the Contemporary Art Museum, and USF’s Public Art Program) Community Advisory Council, Sing Out and Read, and StageWorks Theatre Advisory Council. She also is a member of Leadership Florida and the Athena Society. A graduate of the University of Minnesota with a BA in journalism, she won the top statewide award for editorial writing from the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors while at The Tampa Tribune and received special recognition by the Tampa Bay Association of Black Journalists for creative work as Content Director at WUSF Public Media. Past accomplishments and community service include leadership positions with Tampa Tiger Bay Club, USF Women in Leadership & Philanthropy (WLP), Alpha House of Tampa Bay, Awesome Tampa Bay, Florida Kinship Center, AIA Tampa Bay, Powerstories, Arts Council of Hillsborough County, and the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce. Diane and her husband, Sandy Rief, live in Tampa.