The food features will resonate throughout the property—even carrying over into the hotel’s spa and guestrooms. Guestrooms will offer butcher-block desktops with custom cutouts for wine buckets; in-room coffee imported from Italy; and gourmet pantries instead of traditional minibars. The pantries will be stocked with locally sourced sweet and savory snacks, multiple varietals of wine, and pre-mixed cocktails, giving guests plenty of food and beverage options. The hotel’s Evangeline spa will serve up mixtures including chocolate, honey, lemon, and lavender for skin and body treatments.
As Tampa’s South Side continues to undergo development and bring in new restaurants and food concepts, the Epicurean hopes to be a beacon for both travelers and local residents.
“My commitment is that we will run the food and beverage operation like a local, independent restaurant,” says Haines. “So many hotels create their food and beverage outlets around hotel guests and then try to figure out how to capture the locals. This will be a place that the locals are drawn to and want to be part of.”
With the Food Network, celebrity chefs, and food blogs permeating American culture, Laxer believes that visitors and Tampa’s Bayshore community will eat up everything the Epicurean has to offer.
“There are all sorts of things people are rediscovering about food. It’s not just something to nourish them—it becomes entertainment,” he says. “Just as people travel to go to museums, people travel to go to restaurants. They want to see who is pushing the envelope. It’s a whole other realm.”