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Tampa Bay-Lakeland
Business Observer Wednesday, Apr. 17, 2019 3 years ago

New restaurant brings island flavors to area

Puerto Rican eatery will open on April 26 in St. Petersburg.

ST. PETERSBURG — WEPA! Cocina de Puerto Rico has planned a grand opening celebration for April 26 that will see a portion of the new restaurant’s proceeds donated to PRxPR, a nonprofit organization that supports hurricane recovery efforts in Puerto Rico.

WEPA! Cocina de Puerto Rico, at 2149 Third Ave. S., in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District, is the brainchild of Puerto Rican restaurateur Jean Totti, who was born and raised on the island. In a press release, Totti says the menu is inspired by his family’s mixed French and Spanish background.

“WEPA! (pronounced Weh-pah) is a word of jubilation commonly used by Puerto Ricans,” Totti states in the release. “The word is used especially as something is celebrated.”

The eatery’s executive chef is Dan Varga, who, the release states, was a participant in the James Beard Celebrity Chef Tour Dinner in Columbus, Ohio, in 2018 and is an acclaimed butcher and corporate chef. The kitchen staff includes two Puerto Rican culinary arts students who have shared their firsthand knowledge of Puerto Rican food.

“Working with these recipes for months, we’ve selected a range of dishes that will represent our culinary history,” Totti states in the release. “Each menu item is made to order.”

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