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Local downtown market focuses on community bonds

By Reese Williams

Franklin on Twiggs is located right where it says — on the intersection of Franklin and Twiggs Street. When it came to choosing a name owner Andrew Turek, explains that it just fit because there is a tendency for people in the Tampa Bay Area to name their local businesses based on their location. Turek opened the restaurant   Fall of 2018 and the restaurant is slowly starting to become well-known over the past few months.

“I was a franchise owner at Pita Pit for over 10 years and everything that I was seeing was a downward trend,” said Turek. “So I thought that I should start my own business. This has been an idea of mine for a while and something I’ve wanted to do.”

Turek states that a lot of his cuisine inspiration came  from growing up in a small beach town and living in Hawaii for five years. He got some of the ideas of the hot side and the bread from a guy who ran a restaurant in his hometown and  the idea of the cold side from living in Hawaii discovering poke bowls.

“On the hot side we serve tacos, burritos, nachos, steak, pork, chicken and  blackened grouper,” said Turek. “We also make our own  Hawaiian sweet bread and then on the other side of the kitchen we have the poke side, or the cold side. In which we have tuna, salmon, shrimp and crab. We also make our own poke sauce.”

Franklin on Twiggs eventually plans on expanding the place once business starts to grow. Turek stated that he would like to incorporate a grab and go station where people can pick up their food, buy it, and go if customers are in a hurry.

This is not your run-of-the-mill taco shop or seafood place. Franklin on Twiggs gives  an interesting dimension with a mixture of different cultures. You don’t usually see this type of restaurant nowadays- giving Downtown Tampa a new unique spot to go to.

Not only does the  food  make the restaurant unique, but  the fact that there is a bike rack for customers to store their bikes  while they eat. Another distinctive feature of Franklin on Twiggs is that they also repair bikes for their customers as well.

“It was an idea that I kind of got from Pita Pit because we did  bike deliveries,” said Turek. “When we were building the store, we had to raise the floor because of all the electrical conduits. It ended up being just a nice little spot to put your bicycles. It was just convenient that a lot of my workers know how to work on bikes so it kind of just worked out in the end.”

The atmosphere in Franklin on Twiggs is chill and very hip. Andre Duarte, an employee at the restaurant, stated that it was a cool place to work at because everyone gets to know each other.

“I love the fact that I see similar faces every day,” said Duarte.  “As a small, local restaurant we can build a strong bond with the community.”

Duarte states that the food is inexpensive with a friendly staff that is always happy to converse with their customers, especially with first-timers.

“You can get a giant bowl of mac n cheese for 10 dollars and you’ll leave happy and full,” said Duarte. “Take a break from campus food and walk the few minutes into downtown and give us a try.”

Locals are starting to enjoy this place for what it is.

“When I first walked in, I thought it was a little unorthodox because you have the bike repair thing in the front and you got the restaurant in the back,” said Michael Pascento, freshman sports management major. “But the food is great and the people that work there are amazing.”

It is unconventional in its own way, but that’s  makes the place stand out. The  certain level of uniqueness and out-of-the-box thinking is what one needs in order to create a successful local business in Tampa. You have to offer the locals a unique experience that they can get only in that one place.

If you are ever in the mood to go out into Downtown Tampa and try new things, give Franklin on Twiggs a try. This is also a great way to support the Tampa community and its local businesses. There are many places in Tampa that are  unique in their own way that deserve recognition.

Reese Williams can be reached at reese.williams@spartans.ut.edu.

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