The Tampa Bay/St. Pete’s restaurant landscape is just as diverse as its population. Each neighborhood offers a different kind of taste: some traditional Americana, some hip and new, others reflecting the culinary traditions of centuries past, still others heralding the arrival of different culinary traditions from around the world. You can eat your way from Hyde Park, to Seminole Heights, to Downtown, to Parkland, and head off to another place for a dessert. To keep up with all these different demands, the architecture and design community of the area has to learn to work, design, build, and cater to every type of culinary establishment. Here are the Top 10 Restaurant Architects working in Tampa.
Alfonso Architects, Inc.
Alberto E. Alfonso
Carlos J. Alfonso
Angel del Monte
AIA Florida Design Honor Award,
AIA Award of Excellence,
Eduardo Garcia Award
1705 N 16th Street, Tampa, FL 33605
About Alfonso Architects, Inc.
The history of Florida is often interwoven with the history of its southern neighbor, Cuba. The history of Alfonso Architects is no different. Part of a lineage of architects, Alberto E. Alfonso left Havana, Cuba for his new home in Tampa Bay in 1960. Over the last half-century he has become a world-renowned architect with a multitude of awards including the AIA State of Florida 2008 Design Honor Award. As he has watched Tampa Bay grow, he has also seen his firm grow to keep up with Tampa’s demand for commercial architecture. His firm also includes founding principal and CEO Carlos J. Alfonso. It also boasts the work of Angel del Monte, another founding principal who serves as company vice president and recipient of the Eduardo Garcia Award from the Florida Central Chapter of the AIA. The firm primarily offers a full range of award-winning design and architectural services and is manned by a team of 30 professionals. Under the leadership and guidance of its principals, the firm has been a consistent recipient of a multitude of awards from prestigious organizations like the AIA, Governor of the State of Florida, Hillsborough County Planning Commission, and Tampa Preservation.
Working with restaurant founders Chris Sullivan, Terry Ryan, Nancy Schneid, and Alex Sullivan, Alfonso Architects helped design and construct the Carmel Café and Wine Bar. Located in the Parkland Estates neighborhood of Tampa, the $2M restaurant measures out to about 4,000 square feet. Carmel Café and Wine Bar also contains a unique, separate seating space that seats up to 16 guests amongst two long tables positioned in front of the restaurant’s domestic and international wine collection. Founding Principal Alberto Alfonso described it as utilizing a “color palette that would reflect the menu concept of Mediterranean cuisine, which is broadly interpreted here and applied with modern twists.” The restaurant also features an original 30-foot high wall mural painted by the architect himself.
Progressive Grocer awards for Best Remodel,
Best Store Design and Best New Concept,
ARE Gold Award
2709 N Rocky Point Drive 20, Tampa, FL 33607
Founded in 1999, Architecture Plus International or api (x) is an award-winning multidisciplinary design firm led by its founding principal Juan Romero. It has used its home in Tampa to focus on developing architecture for food retail, specialty retail, restaurants, and retail centers for a diverse set of national and international clients. Some of these nearby restaurants include Bartaco in Hyde Park Village and Grillsmith in Clearwater. The firm’s work has won a variety of prizes, including Progressive Grocer awards for Best Remodel in 2015, and Best Store Design and Best New Concept design in 2014. It has also been awarded the 2015 Gold Award from the A.R.E and was given First Place in the 2011 ISP/VM+SD International Store Design Competition. Romero himself has also been a featured speaker at culinary and food-service industry conferences, for organizations such as the Food Marketing Institute, International Council of Shopping Centers, the National Grocers Association, and many others.
Architecture Plus International has worked on numerous restaurants across the Tampa Bay area. Just some of those include the 9,700-square-foot Del Frisco Grille in Metwest, Tampa. The steakhouse serves around 450 guests, and another 160 on its rooftop deck with retractable roof. With the Metwest commercial area growing, 60k to 70k office workers nearby are looking for restaurants to go to, but for lunch and to wine and dine clients. api(+) designed Del Frisco Grille with that in mind. The architecture firm has also designed and built a number of Earl of Sandwich restaurants across the Tampa/St. Pete area. The restaurants a menu of sandwiches, wraps, salads and desserts. They’ve built branches in downtown Tampa, Northwest Tampa, Edgemoor in St. Pete, and another in Bayport West.
BECK Architecture, LLC
Joe Harrington, Principal
Ryan Toth, Regional Director
AIA Merit Award for Architecture for Historic Renovation,
The Planning Commission Planning & Design Award of Merit for Redevelopment and Historic,
ABC Excellence in Construction Awards
220 West 7th Avenue, Tampa FL 33602
Although the Beck Group started in 1912, it has been in Tampa since as far back as 1961. Headquartered in Tampa Heights, it has worked to revitalize the neighborhood and city, with the company employees having volunteered for thousands of hours and local nonprofit charities. In 2015, the company won five Excellence in Construction Awards from the Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Chapter. Joe Harrington is a principal architect for the Tampa office. He relocated to Tampa in 2007, where he led design on award-winning projects, including USF CAMLS, Le Meridien Tampa, and Ulele projects. Harrington is joined by Ryan Toth who was named one of Associated Builders and Contractors Florida Gulf Coast Chapter’s 2015 “Top 20 Under 40” Young Professionals. He is also involved locally, through committee involvement with the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry, and he is a member of Friends of the Riverwalk. The firm offers a full range of services and makes use of a multidisciplinary approach.
Ulele is considered one of the best restaurants in Tampa and is crown jewel of the Tampa Beck Group’s portfolio. The 8,800-square-foot Native American restaurant sits overlooking the Hillsborough River. The restaurant includes an outdoor beer garden and its own brewhouse, with as a natural spring that empties into the river. Beck has also installed a bronze statue of Ulele, the mythic Native American figure who is the restaurant’s namesake. The restaurant was created by Beck transforming an abandoned, turn-of-the-century water works building and water pumping station into one of USA Today’s Top 10 Best Places to Eat in Tampa. Beck worked diligently to renovate the space with both functional and aesthetic components, working to preserve the historic character and exterior red brick façade of the water works building.
100 Ashley Drive S, #100, Tampa, FL 33602
About BDG Architects
BDG Architects implores a set of “Core Values” to provide a better built environment; strive for creative and technical excellence; provide responsive, quality service and individual commitment for mutual success; facilitate continuous personal development; and support professional and community involvement. Following those core values is the lead principal of BDG, Chris Kirschner, an experienced architect with a background in sustainable design, who reflects how important it is to be a vital part of the Tampa community. Kirschner is a board member of the Tampa YMCA and NAIOP and is an active member of the USGBC, AIA, ICSC, and NFPA. The firm initially started out as a small firm back in 1989 and has since grown into the leader it is today. The firm specializes not only in commercial projects but also in multi-family residential and hospitality work. It has the technical expertise for both renovations and ground-up projects and makes use of a highly contextual and collaborative approach.
BDG has worked on a wide variety of projects to match different restaurant and food-service demands. One of these projects includes current food and beverage renovations at the Tampa Bay International Airport. The company worked with a number of restaurants and food service companies to integrate them into the airport, including Four Green Fields, Auntie Anne’s, RumFish Grill, Cafe by Mise en Place, Chick-fil-A, Panda Express, New York New York Pizza, and PDQ. BDG has also worked on creating upscale culinary experiences. One of these is Rococo Steak in downtown St. Petersburg, near the famous Dali Museum. Refurbished from a 1920s mansion, the restaurant caters to a hip crowd for food and drinks. The restaurant and bar and seating area measures in at around 8,000 square feet. BDG worked to create a space that lived up to its name, designing it after the “Rococo” architectural style.
Cuhaci & Peterson
1925 Prospect Avenue, Orlando, FL 32814
About Cuhaci & Peterson
Cuhaci and Peterson, established in nearby Orlando, Florida, has done extensive work in the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area. It has worked on a variety of restaurant projects, from visualization and construction documents to interior design. The firm is a nationally recognized design firm with registered professionals in 49 states and is composed of a diverse and talented group of planners, architects, engineers, designers, and support staff. The firm describes its process as more than just designing; it’s a chance to develop and strengthen a client’s particular brand. The firm is known for its exceptional design solutions. The company works on both interiors and exteriors and makes use of a highly collaborative process. Doing so ensures that its client’s visions are seen in each of its projects. Aside from its restaurant projects, the firm has also worked on various assisted living facilities, offices, and grocery stores.
Cuhaci & Peterson has the history and experience when working with restaurant spaces. They’ve dealt with every variety of dining entity, from fast food and fast casual to high-end specialty restaurants and international brands. Led by Michael Lynch and Norberto Campos, C&P worked to help bring in Mitchell’s Fish Market at Westshore Plaza. The 5,500-square-foot restaurant at Westshore Plaza in Tampa was designed for Ruth’s Hospitality Group. It offers a selection of fresh seafood, a raw bar, and a fully-stocked liquor bar. They’ve also worked on Mellow Mushroom in nearby Lakeland, Florida. The 7,300-square-foot restaurant built on a 1.3 acre outparcel was a project by C&P for House of Leonard Restaurants. The restaurant is a fun, quirky, and funky pizzeria that features unique artwork all over, and a menu of craft beer, calzones, and creative, stone-baked pizzas.
Design Styles Architecture
Southeast Building Conference Aurora Awards,
USGBC LEEDership Award
1708 E Columbus Drive, Tampa, FL 33605
About Design Styles Architecture
Established in 1998, Design Style Architecture is a full-service architecture and interior design firm specializing in residential, commercial, and educational projects, and, most importantly, restaurants. Design Style Architecture (or DSA) is led by Andy Dohmen. He maintains affiliations with vital organizations like the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC). Since 2011, DSA has also been shepherded by Chief Operating Officer and Lead Principal Jason Dickens, who was nominated CFO of the Year award by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. He is extremely committed to giving back to the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area; currently he serves as the president of the Tampa County Place Homeowners Association, and he is on the board of the local history Ybor City Museum and sits on the East Tampa Community Redevelopment Area (CRA) Advisory Committee. The firm is best known for its diverse and comprehensive range of skills. The firm often approaches its projects by dividing its staff into specific teams assembled to address any specific needs and concerns of each client.
In 2013, the Shephard’s Beach Resort in Clearwater Florida turned to Design Style Architecture to help them build their Ocean Flame Restaurant. Offering breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico, The Ocean Flame is a premier destination in the Tampa Bay/St. Pete area. The restaurant features large see-through ceiling panels illuminated with an array of color-changing LED lights and glowing glass “waves” that help form the inside of the restaurant. The glass waves changes colors as you move throughout the restaurant, illuminating its delicious menu of sushi and raw bar items. Also featured at the Shephard’s Beach Resort is The Salt Bar. With a more industrial but warm design approach, The Salt Bar creates a vibrant and energetic mood. DSA used materials like steel and polished concrete to create an energetic, fun place for a cocktail or a glass of wine while watching the beautiful ocean views.
H. Dean Rowe Award for Design Excellence
5813 South MacDill Avenue, Tampa, FL 33611
About Elevation Architecture
Not far from Ballast Point Bay, off the shore of Southern Tampa, are the offices of Elevation Architecture. The firm was started in 2009 by award-winning architect Dennis Carr but he has been in the Tampa area since 1992. A much-feted local architect, Carr has been honored with the highest design award achievable in the Tampa Bay Chapter of the AIA: the H. Dean Rowe Award for Design Excellence. He is committed to serving the Tampa Bay area and works and serves on the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Planning and Management Committee, as well as volunteering his time at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. Elevation Architecture has grown to cater to the architecture needs of his neighborhood and beyond, including Tampa, South Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Dunedin, Belleair, Sarasota, and Bradenton. He has worked on restaurants that cater to a variety of tastes in Tampa. The firm does not specialize in one particular style, rather it takes pride in having skills for working on a multitude of themes. Its portfolio showcases its expertise for both traditional and modern designs in a variety of market sectors, aside from restaurants, which include healthcare, multi-family residential, retail, community centers, warehouse, mixed-use developments, and single-family residential projects.
Bern’s Steakhouse in the Hyde Park neighborhood is one of the most famous and highly rated restaurants in Tampa, having been around since the 1950s. Looking to branch out, the owners looked to open a new restaurant to pair with Bern’s that would offer something different to a different clientele base. Working in Tampa’s SoHo district, Elevation Architecture worked together with the team from Bern’s Steakhouse to create Haven Wine Bar. Haven Wine Bar offers its clientele unique entrees, crafted cocktails, and a hallowed wine selection. The architects worked to create a restaurant that is “warm and comfortable, outfitted in a variety of natural materials reflecting the authenticity of the dining concept.” Haven Wine Bar’s dining area measures in around 2,900 square feet, along with a the first-class kitchen of approximately 1,900 square feet.
201 N Franklin St. Suite #1800, Tampa, FL 33602
HOK, formerly Hellmuth, Obata + Kassabaum, is a giant of the commercial architecture world. The firm focuses on the Tampa Bay area and has truly left its mark on the city. Its Tampa office has been part of HOK’s network since 1984. Since then, it has been feted as Firm of the Year by the IIDA’s South Florida Chapter and named “Best Large Company to Work for in Florida” by Florida Trend Magazine. The firm, led by Principal Architects Roger Soto and Thomas Beyer, HOK Tampa has been part of creating many of the landmarks in Tampa. These include leading the massive renovation and expansion of the main passenger terminal at Tampa International Airport; the Raymond James Stadium, home of the National Football League’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers; and Tropicana Field, home of Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays.
Featured ProjectsThe firm’s portfolio showcases its skill and expertise for numerous markets such as the cultural, commercial, corporate, and entertainment sectors to name a few. Focusing more on its restaurant projects, it has worked on several noteworthy ones throughout its years in business. Its work is best showcased by the project above which was completed for Spiritland Restaurant. The design echoes a 1970s-era recording studio with its bespoke sound system, excellent booths, and velvet curtains.
Jerel McCants Architecture
1726 E 7th Ave. Suite #11, Tampa, FL 33605
About Jerel McCants Architecture
Headquartered in Tampa, Jerel McCants Architecture is an award-winning firm that offers a complete and comprehensive range of services. It makes use of only the latest and most innovative techniques and is manned by a group of talented professionals who oversee each project from start to finish. Together, they have ensured the firm’s growth into becoming one of the area’s most recognizable architecture companies and have secured a solid reputation for Jerel McCants Architecture thanks to its boutique approach. The firm designs and crafts no two projects alike and it tailors its processes for each of its clients and spaces. Aside from its commercial and restaurant work, its portfolio showcases several spiritual, educational, residential, civic, and military projects.
The project above was completed for Irish 31. The pub and eatery is located in two formerly separate tenant spaces and spans 2,700 square feet. The firm was tasked with working on its demolition, interior alteration, and the design of a new full kitchen and several bar areas, high top, and booth seating. The firm’s team also conceptualized its exteriors and worked hard to maintain the original branding.
Mesh Architecture LLC
Tampa Bay AIA Merit Awards,
Tampa Bay AIA Honor Awards,
Tampa Bay AIA President’s Award
33 6th Street S, Suite 400, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
About Mesh Architecture LLC
Located in Downtown St. Petersburg, just a few minutes away from The Museum of Fine Arts, are the offices of Mesh Architecture. The firm is composed of an innovative design team of over 50 staff members, including architects, designers, and craftspeople; together they are creating commercial design and construction projects that reflect the innovation and skill of the art housed in the museum nearby. Principal architect Tim Clemmons has won a series of awards, including a 2009 Tampa Bay AIA Merit Award, two 2008 Tampa Bay AIA Honor Awards, a 2004 Tampa Bay AIA President’s Award, and a 2001 Tampa Bay AIA Merit Award for his work at the St. Petersburg Arts Center. Joining Clemmons at the head of the firm is Jenny Miers. She holds a master’s degree from the Architecture University of South Florida, and a Bachelor of Design in Architecture from the University of Florida. She was previously an AIA Tampa Bay board member and associate director. She was feted with the USF SACD Emerging Architect Award in 2011, and her work on the Z Grille Restaurant received a 2009 Tampa Bay AIA Merit Award.
Winning a 2009 Tampa Bay AIA Merit Award, Z Grille in St. Petersburg is an example of the incredible work done by MESH Architecture. Found on the first floor of Signature Place in St. Pete’s Downtown, the 2,400 square-foot, 100-seat restaurant has found incredible success. Catering to the owner and chef’s California roots, the architects worked to integrate a skateboarding decor and theme into the restaurant, including a bamboo structure designed to recall a half pipe. Z Grille’s open kitchen is framed under a “proscenium arch,” while the countertops use a unique cast resin, colored to evoke vintage skateboard wheels, and “grind rail” foot rests. MESH has also worked on designing all of the new locations for the new Tampa-based chain of Burrito Boarder. After the success of their first “Burg-born” restaurant, located at 17 3rd Street North in downtown Saint Petersburg, their newest collaboration with Burrito Boarder is in Carrollwood in Northern Tampa. Measuring out to 1,800 square feet, this Burrito Boarder offers delicious Tex-Mex with a bright and colorful decor, highlighted by its unique, concrete “wave-textured” floor.
SOL design Studio, LLC
AIA Tampa Bay Merit Award,
AIA Tampa Bay Honor Award for Design Excellence,
AIA National Award for Design Excellence
1726 East 7th Avenue, Suite #1, Tampa, FL 33605
About SOL design Studio, LLC
Carlos Molnar is the managing principal and co-founder at SOL Design Studios in Tampa. He has worked throughout America’s Southeast and in Puerto Rico. He maintains a variety of affiliations with several important organizations. He has had the privilege of serving as the president of the AIA’s Tampa chapter working as an adjunct professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Architecture and Community Design. He is joined by his talented team of architects and interior designers who together have worked in making the firm known for its excellent services. Aside from its restaurants, the firm is also known for its hospitality, commercial, and residential work.
When the famous Yeoman’s Road Pub in David Island decided to move to Downtown Tampa, SOL Design Studio worked to create an authentic English Pub in the middle of Tampa’s CBD, or Central Business District. The new location was renamed “Yeoman’s Cask and Lion” and features an extremely British decor. The exterior utilizes a unique bright blue and astroturf, while the inside of the pub includes a 4,800-square-foot wooden, brick, and polished-stone designed dining area. Covering the walls of the Cask and Lion is artwork by local artist Justin Peterson, featuring large pop illustrations of David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, Queen Elizabeth, Winston Churchill, and The Rolling Stones’ seemingly immortal Keith Richards. Yeoman’s Cask & Lion offers a capacity of around 175 customers, a full bar and a 1,000-square-foot patio, and it has its own two (wooden) Queen’s Guards keeping watch at the entrance.