For those following The Bricks on Twitter, the last five months have been a glimpse into the strenuous process of opening a restaurant: refurbishing an historic Ybor City building, developing a logo and a menu, obtaining a liquor license. Last night, after creating a perfect amount of tension with the constant updates and papered-over windows, the restaurant hosted a private "friends and family" gathering where everyone (including comedian Tom Green) stopped in to finally see the new place.
The new gallery/cafe is the new venture of Skatepark of Tampa owner Brian Schaefer (pictured below) and other key partners (Seamus Gallagher and Durke Schmidt).
Their Facebook page puts it pretty clearly. "After nearly two decades of sending business to the bars and restaurants of Ybor City, Skatepark of Tampa has decided to open its own bar/restaurant/coffee shop right on 7th Avenue, aptly named The Bricks of Ybor City."
A few jokes were made about The Bricks being the place that parents might come for free WiFi and lunch after dropping their kids at the Skatepark for an afternoon of shredding (a hipper version of Panera Bread, if you will). However, there was more of a feeling that the Skatepark itself had grown up that the class clowns had become the principals and this was their way of giving back to the community the best way they knew how. This was further evidenced by the encouraging number of young families in attendance.
The space itself is beautiful, furnished in a modern style, with the historic details of the building intact and well-preserved. The saloon doors behind the bar to the kitchen are an especially nice touch, and there is also a brick (of course) courtyard out back with plenty of tables and seating for smoking and/or laptopping.
Drinks at the open bar were flowing, and a spread of bruschetta, salad, sandwiches and more was constantly being replenished. The sandwiches were the standouts "The Goodness" was a healthy hummus, sprouts, cucumber and feta concoction on whole wheat and "The Clubhouse" featured turkey, ham and some killer bacon on a seedy, toasted multi-grain.
There was art on the walls courtesy of local artists Chris Deacon, Michelle Sawyer, Robert Wegmann, Mike Goodwine all curated by Chad and Suzie Cardoza. Florida Night Heat performed later in the evening. There is no "stage" to speak of, but there's a corner/nook of the room where bands can set up. This is made up for by a large wooden, waist-high DJ booth/table (that I can only imagine could double as another bar/prep area) that pumps the sound throughout the space as well as out back to the courtyard.
The one thing I didn't get to try was the coffee. I'll have to reserve judgment there, for as a true coffee snob, this will be the final test. But for now, The Bricks is killing it. Doing a lot of things right, and in turn, doing a lot of good for the Yborhood.
The Bricks official grand opening is set for July 5. The first art opening, "Odes to Ybor," happens on Friday, July 30 at 10 p.m.