Updated 2 months ago
Restaurants and retailing go together like ham and eggs — or for modern appetites, beets and goat cheese. Some of Florida's most intriguing successes now put dining rooms and sales floors together, smartly coordinated by a distinct style that makes upscale diner-shoppers swoon.
Oxford Exchange Tampa
Blake Casper's vision of private clubs and London hotel breakfasts has turned two vacant turn of- the-century storefronts into the top gathering spot for Tampa society.
They are now a magnificent space, rich in old wood, tile, grand staircases, oil portraits and endless bookshelves like an office set in "Downton Abbey."
Members can meet clients in private offices or retreat to a reading room that seems imported from the Edwardian era.
Credit all of that to Casper and sister Allison, whose family owns Florida's largest McDonald's franchise.They were determined to bring Tampa the sophistication and tradition found in European cities.
The restaurant serves top-price breakfast, lunch and weekend brunches.The menu has modern accents of flatbreads, pork belly, kale (as both chips and salad), house pretzels and lobster BLTs.
In lieu of alcohol, diners and shoppers delight in boutique coffee and teas (30 varieties) from local startups.
The Ox stretches through the block with two classy retail areas, reflecting the Caspers' love of books.
Allison Casper Adams and Blake Casper run the Oxford Exchange (right) in Tampa.
Duh for Home and Garden Pensacola
Quinn Stinson's collection of fine furniture and worldly accents for mansion, condo and garden fills several old warehouses and spills across the street.
Courtyard, barn, villa, garden shop and warehouse include more than a dozen rooms filled with custom furniture, mirrors and stacks of glazed Oriental pots.Under the same roof and run through the same checkout terminals are Fig women's boutique, Winston Perkins for preppy menswear, a custom stationer and pet bakery. And two restaurants: Stinson lured in Norma Murray to redo Norma's, Pensacola's favorite source of stockpot soups, bread pudding, chicken salads (the Champagne version is a fave) and muffulettas. For dinner, chef Blake Rushing's Type offers a changing menu that can deliver duck and quail terrine, beef bourguignon with parsley foam and local king mackerel with Brussels sprouts and a poached egg.
Shore, the store owned by Tom Leonard, came first, offering fedoras, rash guards, mini-boards, Vans shoes and hoodies between Lilly Pulitzer and Foxy Lady.
Two years ago, he was joined by Mark Caragiulo of Sarasota's most prolific restaurant family, who took over the store's empty rooftop and started dreaming. Caragiulo had already created two clever Southern spinoffs, Owen's Fish Camp and Nancy's Bar-B-Q.
Shore would be unlike any of them — clean and cool with mid-century décor of pale blues and white, the whole place open to the breeze on both sides. The menu is modern and casual, both big burgers, carnitas tacos and calamari in kung pao sauce and vegan options like a vegetable roast. Barrel-aged cocktails, too.
For Caragiulo, the food design and shopping should not match in theme park cute but work together to broaden and lengthen the experience. "It deepens the memory, and that's what we're selling."