As pandemic restrictions loosen and people feel more comfortable wandering out in public, two local restaurant chains have announced expansion plans.
Big Storm Brewing Co. and SoFresh both plan to add new locations later this year.
Big Storm is planning an 11,000-square-foot taproom and restaurant in Ybor City. This will be the Clearwater-based brewer’s fifth location, according to a statement. And Tampa-based SoFresh will open in Tampa's Carrolwood neighborhood.
The openings come as restaurants chains around the country face industry-wide headwinds to find workers to staff their eateries and more people begin to venture out of their homes after nearly 14 months of pandemic-induced isolation.
Big Storm’s new location will be its first in the city of Tampa and gives it a highly visible location in one of the city’s best known, most popular and busiest districts.
The new taproom and restaurant will be in the Centro Ybor building in space previously occupied by Hamburger Mary’s and Mary’s Pub. The plan is to open before the end of the year, Big Storm says in a statement.
The brewer currently has taprooms in Clearwater, Orlando, Odessa and Cape Coral and distributes in five states.
“We have long wanted to open an Ybor location and are excited to have finally found what we think is the perfect spot, in the heart of the district, overlooking East 7th Avenue,” co-owner L.J. Govoni says in the statement.
As for SoFresh, the chain will open its 11th location at the Shoppes of Carrollwood on North Dale Mabry Highway just south of Bearss Avenue. It is set to open May 11.
The chain, which first opened in 2013, specializes in made-to-order meals and the new location will offer dine-in and take-out service.
According to the company, the new restaurant will bring about 30 jobs.
Clay Donato, SoFresh’s vice president of development and one of the partners, says the company plans for several more locations in the Tampa Bay area. The next one is set to open in Palm Harbor later this year.