One of the best things about living in a mid-sized city is that it is always growing, and this is definitely a characteristic of Tampa and the Bay area. USF students should take advantage of this, as there is always something new to try and somewhere new to explore. These three businesses in particular are bound to offer students fresh and unique experiences.
Whatever Pops and Bowls
Whatever Pops owner Steve McGlocklin and his wife have always wanted to open a smoothie shop, but on the day they got engaged, they walked into a Popsicle shop and changed their minds.
Located in Seminole Heights, Whatever Pops is not entirely new to the area.
While the store has only been open since Dec. 1 of last year, their idea first debuted as a Popsicle cart at the Shops at Wiregrass with Tampa Bay Market back in July of 2011. They expanded to a couple carts and then a food truck before opening the store.
“We started completely with a soft opening. We didn’t even advertise on our Facebook until a few days later, mainly due to the fact that we wanted to make sure that we were up to par with making our acai bowls, espressos, coffee and waffles on a stick,” McGlocklin said.
“Business has been increasing. We’ve had great feedback from everyone and we’re getting ready to release our smoothies and shakes in the next couple weeks.”
While he went on to say that they chose Seminole Heights as their first physical location because of its reputation as “one of the best areas for foodies and new restaurants and those who are thinking outside the box with what they’re putting out food-wise,” McGlocklin mentioned that they were looking to open locations in South Tampa, Carrollwood, Brandon and Channelside in the future.
While his favorite item on the menu is the Earl Grey lavender lemonade pop, McGlocklin recommends that students try an acai bowl or a waffle-on-the-stick, especially one with chocolate drizzle.
Whatever Pops and Bowls is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week.
Urban Bungalow and Bungalow Coffee
Also in Seminole Heights, Urban Bungalow opened in September 2014 as a furniture store. Over time though, because of input from clients, it has turned into more than that, according to owner David Hansen.
“It’s really a home store. Our tagline is ‘essentials for everyday living,’” Hansen said. “What we specialize in is furniture that’s on a smaller scale that’s better for a smaller apartment, a condo, or the historic bungalows that we have located around our store.”
Now, it sells items such as cocktail mixers, cocktail utensils, gourmet food, gourmet kitchen items, kitchen utensils and artwork, as well as furniture. However, Hansen had larger plans still, and in September of last year, Bungalow Coffee opened inside the store.
“We have always wanted to have kind of a mixed-use space, a space that our clients could come and have a great cup of coffee and also shop and take their time. We have had that in the plans for a very long time,” Hansen said.
“Originally, Blind Tiger Coffee was in, but they wanted to move to their own free-standing space, so we decided to open a coffee shop ourselves.”
Hansen co-owns the cafe with Greg Curtis from Cleanse Apothecary next door, and said that sometimes they get called a ‘mini Oxford Exchange’ because of the versatility of the businesses. One of their crowd-pullers is the fact that they offer Intelligentsia Coffee, a Chicago-based coffee brand.
“We have a great outpouring from the community. We have people who specifically come in for the Intelligentsia brand,” Hansen said. “We’re the only ones in the region to actually brew their coffee.”
Hansen said his favorite item in the coffee shop is the cafe bon bon, either iced or hot.
“It’s my favorite. I think I have one every day and it’s probably not the best thing for me to do every day. It is a cross between a latte and a cafe con leche and it’s done with sweetened condensed milk,” Hansen said. “There’s no syrup. You’re not adding like a mocha or a pure cane syrup, but it just makes it a very creamy, nice, frothy latte-esque drink.”
As for his favorite item in Urban Bungalow? He cannot choose, as he personally hand picks everything for the home store.
Urban Bungalow is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays to Fridays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
The Bikery in St. Petersburg is similar to Urban Bungalow, as it is a combination store, with the twist being that it is a bike store and repair shop in addition to being a cafe. Manager and USF alum Taylor Norton explained that this unique entrepreneurial idea came from the West, as there are a few in larger cities with cooler temperatures, such as Portland and Seattle.
“One of the partners here, Andrew Bridgman, was living out in Fort Collins, Colorado, and we’ve been friends for a long time. I went out and visited and there was a shop a lot like this that kind of had a similar concept,” Norton said. “Not exactly the same, but it had coffee and bike repairs in the same building. We really liked it and fell in love with the idea, and said, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we did something like that for ourselves some day?’ little knowing we really could actually.”
The shop opened in July of last year and has been getting busier since. Norton said the goal for The Bikery is to foster a community for lovers of both coffee and bicycles, not just to be a bike shop or a cafe.
“It’s been a lot of fun seeing the different kind of reactions we get from the community because there really isn’t something like this in the Tampa Bay area,” Norton said. “We get a wide range of people that really dig it, and sometimes we get people that come in and are really confused, and that’s cool.”
Students who take a trip to St. Pete should try the nitro-brewed coffee. Not a lot of places carry this type of coffee as of yet, as it is new, but surprisingly growing in popularity.