The Tampa Tribune

By: Richard Mullins

Get ready to pronounce Churrascarias because the invasion of Brazilian-themed steakhouses continues in Tampa Bay. The Dallas-based Texas de Brazil chain will open its first Tampa restaurant, across from International Plaza Mall in the MetWest International complex on Boy Scout Boulevard, directly across the entrance from the seafood restaurant Kona Grill. The new location is set to open in the first quarter of 2011, in a 7,500 square-foot space, according to the real estate developer at MetWest.

For Tampa, a town already known for steakhouses, these South American-style restaurants offer a twist. Chefs prepare meat on large skewers over open flames. Then sword-wielding Gauchos, (Brazilian cowboys) typically roll a heated cart tableside, and carve slices right onto customer plates. And meat is the centerpiece of the dining event, especially as some restaurants offer all-you-can-eat deals, and small flags that customers can raise to signal another round is needed. Some restaurants offer 10 different meats in a series. That style is called Churrascarias, pronounced shoo-HOSS-ka-REE-ahs, or more simply said in English, Shoe. Hoss! Koreas. Texas de Brazil has 15 locations, including five in Florida. The new Tampa location will be nearly within sight of another South American-steakhouse, Boizao, just down the street on Boy Scout Boulevard. That joins others like Terra Mar Brazilian Steakhouse, in Pinellas Park, and La Fogata in Gulfport. The MetWest complex could turn into a nice hub of restaurants, said Kalyn Brandewie of Florida Retail Partners, who is handling the retail leasing at MetWest. They’re targeting more seafood and more Mexican restaurants, especially as so much traffic flows around International Plaza Mall. The past few years were hard on restaurants, she said. But there are indications that worst has seemed to pass, and this is a great sign that things are coming back.

Sunday, August 16, 2009