Set to open early 2020, Willa’s (1700 West Fig Street) will be an everyday neighborhood restaurant and bar from Tampa natives Nate Siegel and Merrin Jenkins. The eatery will be set inside a carefully re-worked, century-old industrial warehouse in West Tampa/North Hyde Park. A 12-seat sister cafe called Willa’s Provisions (310 North Rome Avenue) will also open inside the front of the building. Provisions will serve locally roasted King State Coffee, juices, pastries, and pick-up fare like tacos and toasts. In the evening, Provisions will become an Aperitivo bar with light bites.
The restaurant derives its name from Merrin’s great-, great-grandmother, William Lowry. She was a 19th-century Tampa pioneer whose original family home remains today on South Plant Avenue. Her devotion to the city and civic involvement still reverberates throughout Tampa: she convinced Andrew Carnegie to help fund the first public library in Tampa, established what would become the second Girl Scouts of America troop, and improved educational opportunities for children by forming the Free Kindergarten Association. Dynamic and engaged, her sunny spirit will be embodied in the restaurant’s creative menu and come-by-and-stay-awhile approach.
Cofounder Nate Siegel brings an extensive hospitality background with nearly a decade’s experience working at renowned Tampa and New York restaurants, including Mise En Place, Ruschmeyer’s, Tacombi, and with the Keith McNally Restaurant Group, which includes Balthazar, Pastis, Minetta Tavern, Morandi, and more. A fellow Tampa native, Cofounder Merrin Jenkins comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. She has worked for several non-profits including the Tampa Museum of Art and New York University, and most recently, she served as the Director of Institutional Advancement for the Akilah Institute, an award-winning women's college in Rwanda educating female leaders for a sustainable future. Both Nate and Merrin are realizing a long-held dream of opening a restaurant in their hometown.
Centered on a deep sense of hospitality, Willa’s will be an easygoing gathering space serving an extensive menu of eclectic, familiar recipes and daily specials. The restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, with brunch on weekends. An abundance of market sides each day will highlight seasonal and favorite dishes. For entrees at dinner, think ROTISSERIE CHICKEN, FRESH GULF SEAFOOD, and STEAK FRITES with lots of salads and veggies like steamed artichoke and marinated beans.
The more casual Willa’s Provisions will serve an extensive coffee program alongside items like BAGEL + LOX, BREAKFAST TACOS, and housemade almond milk each morning. After 11am, guests can dine-in or pick up SOUPS, SALADS, and SANDWICHES, with ROTISSERIE CHICKEN in the evenings alongside a classic menu of aperitifs and digestifs.
Available by the glass, carafe, or bottle (including magnums), the wine list at Willa’s will be focused, well-priced, and ever-changing, showcasing about 30 small producers of organic, biodynamic, and natural wines. The well-trained bar team will serve a list of mostly classic cocktails, including a textbook Martini, Old Fashioned and Negroni, along with fun house drinks on tap. The coldest in town, Willa’s beers will be poured in frosty chilled glasses, with favorite local crafts and imports on draught.
Twice James Beard Foundation nominees, Austin’s FÖDA leads interiors, identity, and brand development. RDB Design serves as Architect of Record. The restaurant’s urban setting is three blocks from South Tampa, bordering the heart of downtown Tampa and Tampa Heights, and a short walk from the University of Tampa and growing Cypress Corridor.
Willa’s and Willa’s Provisions will be housed in a 4700-square-foot industrial building initially constructed around a century ago. The design team has carefully preserved the gritty qualities of the aging structure while introducing crisp, clean-lined, and reductive new finishes to create precise contrast. The restaurant uses time-tested elements from classic cafes and brasseries, but is at its heart fundamentally Floridian and meant to serve its neighborhood with comfort. To achieve this, the design team focused on forms and materials native to a humid coastal setting, presented without kitsch. Willa’s will seat around 100 guests in the bar and dining area.
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