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Sparkman Wharf brings together a Who’s Who of Tampa restaurateurs

Nice synergy, this: U.S. Rep. Stephen Sparkman helped transform Tampa in the early 20thcentury, bringing in the federal funds that paid to dig deep-water channels from Port Tampa to Channelside. Now, with Sparkman Wharf, his name has resurfaced as part of our own century’s waterfront reclamation project, Water Street.

An aerial view (SPP).

Located on the former site of Channelside Bay Plaza, Sparkman Wharf is billed by its developers, Strategic Property Partners, as “a creative mixed-use redevelopment” featuring “loft-style office space… an intimate dining garden, biergarten, and lawn for recreation.”

That “dining garden” (fancy name for outdoor food court?) is an especially intriguing component, partly because it’s opening soon, and partly because the restaurants will be housed in, no kidding, repurposed shipping containers.

But the main reason is its roster of local culinary leaders.

The Sparkman All-Stars

The lineup reads like a Who’s Who of top local chefs and restaurateurs. They include Ferrell Alvarez (Rooster & the Till); Marty Blitz (Mise en Place); Noel Cruz (Ichicoro Ramen); BT Nguyen (Restaurant BT); and Jeannie Pierola (edison food + drink lab).

More exciting still, many of the chefs are branching out into cuisines that differ from what they’re known for — Cruz, for instance, is doing pizza, not ramen, and Pierola, known for edison’s high-end culinary experiments, is creating an updated fish shack. An element of discovery is built in.

Here are some detailed descriptions of the Sparkman Wharf restaurants from our friends at That’s So Tampa. Consider our interest, um, sparked (especially since the Tampa Bay Times‘s ever-dependable restaurant critic, Laura Reiley, billed the new development as “thrilling” after a recent sneak preview.

What’s planned for Sparkman’s menus

  • Boat Run Oyster Company, developed by SaltBlock Hospitality, is a sustainable tide-to-table concept featuring hand-raised, raw oysters from Cedar Key, Florida.
  • BT in a Box, created by Chef BT Nguyen, is a fusion concept that puts a creative twist on classic French and Vietnamese dishes. Creating delicious foods that are nutritious and affordable, BT in a Box will offer a simple yet sophisticated dining experience with organic ingredients, small farm meats and poultry, wild fresh-caught seafood, and local Florida produce.
A working lunch at Sparkman Wharf (SPP).

The Corners Pizza brings Detroit-style pizza to Tampa’s waterfront. The new concept is the product of a collaboration between Chefs Noel Cruz and Anthony Messina, and Chef Messina will pair his Sicilian grandmother’s original dough recipe with some of the most simple and beautiful toppings.

  • edison’s Swigamajig is a no-frills channelside shanty that’s all about cocktails and the catch. Reinventing Florida’s quintessential seafood shack, edison’s swgamajig, created by Chef Jeannie Pierola, combines the allure of outdoor bohemian dining with a serious seafood menu, craft cocktails, beer and wine.
  • Flock & Stock focuses on high-quality American roadside favorites such as burgers, chicken sandwiches, tenders and fries. Embracing core values of community, fun, and hospitality, Flock & Stock will treat all guests like family.
  • Foundation Coffee, owned by Jason and Emily Smith, is dedicated to the art of craft coffee. Their menu will feature items like breakfast sandwiches, locally baked pastries, and of course, cold brew, espresso, and more.
  • Gallito Taqueria, the brainchild of Chef Ferrell Alvarez, is a modern taco shop that features fun twists on classic Mexican street food.
  • Montados by Mise en Place will be a Spanish tapas concept paired with sangria by Chef Marty Blitz.
  • Whatever Pops, crafted by Chief Chiller Steve McGlocklin, serves house-made gelato, acai bowls, and ice pops. Everything at Whatever Pops will be made with real, wholesome ingredients.
  • For more information, see



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