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Lepley’s Kitchen & Lounge from actor Tyler Lepley soft opens this weekend

Actor/restaurant owner Tyler Lepley’s soon-to-be-a-hit restaurant Lepley’s Kitchen & Lounge soft opens in the Seminole Heights neighborhood of Tampa this weekend. When he first announced the news he was bringing a restaurant to town, I (and like everyone else here) was super excited. News spread like wildfire; even my dad sent me a DM asking if I knew which area of town the restaurant was located.

Recently, Lepley enjoyed himself at the Bucs/Detroit lions game a couple weeks ago. Fans weren’t asking him about his latest projects, they wanted to know when the food was coming.

“I was so blown away from the reaction and outpouring from the city. 90% of the people that were coming up to me were telling me they couldn’t wait for the restaurant to open,” said Lepley. “It’s been so cool to feel the appreciation but really the excitement for something the city and the culture are looking for.”

Inspired by “Chef Ian”, his character from Amazon Prime’s show Harlem. The restaurant takes over the space that was formerly Social House and Mortar & Pestle. He and his girlfriend, entrepreneur Miracle Watts, entertain their friends all the time back home in Los Angeles with their infamous game nights so creating a vibe for people isn’t something he’s new to.

“Bring the chef in to cook something that’ll stick to your ribs, get creative with the drinks, and really just share that vibe,” Lepley said. “That’s what made me want to go into the hospitality business.”

If you’ve been living under a rock, the actor’s union SAG is still under strike. Due to that fact, that has allowed Lepley to take a hands-on approach and be around for the renovation of the restaurant space.

“There is a silver lining there. One of them is being able to be here physically and really listen to what’s going on so we can make sure everything is right plus y’all are able to see me and the people who are creating this,” he said.

a photo of the "Cara's Pear" cocktail at Lepley's Kitchen & Lounge
“Cara’s Pear” cocktail

The menu focuses on “southern comfort food with a fusion of Caribbean flavors”. On the menu are dishes like Lepley’s Lamb Chops, Jerk Shrimp & Grits, and Salmon Rasta Pasta. Lepley’s father hails from Jamaica and the head chef is from the Bahamas. A full liquor bar has all the creative drinks you’ll need to pair with the meals like “Cara’s Pear”. Lepley says his favorite meal is the “KFC” that comes with a chicken in a nice metal bucket and a bottle of Moet champagne.

“It was important to marry the Southern with the Caribbean together for sure. We got a lot of different appetizers also,” Lepley said.

a photo of the KFC meal at Lepley's Kitchen & Lounge
The “KFC” with a bottle of Moet champagne

Robert and I got a little taste of the menu during the interview and it’s clear the team did the necessary work to make sure the menu had the right vibe they were going for.

Lepley says with Southern comfort food, a lot of the love for it is from familiarity.

“I think what’s important about bringing people a piece of yourself is find new ways to make them excited about things that are familiar,” he said.

Lepley’s Kitchen & Lounge is a fairly large enough space for all the upcoming parties, brunches, and whatnot. The space fits over 100 people and includes both indoor and outdoor seating, which is going to feel really good now that temperatures are dropping.

“The brunch is going to be out of control. It’s going to be lit and we’re really going to be going up in here,” Lepley said.

The days and hours will be Wednesday-Thursday 4 p.m.-11 p.m., Friday-Saturday 4 p.m.-1 a.m., and Sunday 11 a.m.- 11 p.m. Find Lepley’s Kitchen & Lounge at 6310 N Florida Ave. Follow the restaurant on Instagram at @lepleystampa and Tyler Lepley at @tylepley.

“From everything my team and I have been hearing from the streets, this place is going to be rockin’, “said Lepley. “People are excited. The line is going to wrapped around the building.”