Andrew Turek is always looking to fill a food void. Twelve years ago, he and some friends opened a Pita Pit restaurant in SoHo to fill the need for a place to get a bite to eat at the end of the evening. With his latest restaurant, Franklin on Twiggs, he’s combined some of his favorite things — poké, tacos and art.
How did you become interested in cooking?
I’ve always loved cooking especially for bigger groups. I come from a large family so it’s always pretty fun cooking for everyone over the holidays.
How did you get into the restaurant business?
A couple friends and I opened a Pita Pit franchise about 12 years ago in SoHo when we moved to Tampa. We saw the potential for a late-night restaurant in the area because the just wasn’t anything in the area like it back then.
How did you come up with the concept for your menu/restaurant?
I went to visit my brother in Australia a few years back and stopped in Hawaii on the way there. That was the first time I had poké. Over the next couple years, I kept thinking about doing my own concept along the lines of poké. However, I knew it would not just be a poké concept, therefore we decided to do a blended concept and offer a hot side too. Since tacos and burritos share some similar ingredients, we developed a menu that offers both. We’ve been slowly evolving since we opened, now offering blackened Grouper and shrimp and we will probably continue adding more as time progresses.
What is the best appetizer you’ve ever had that’s not from your own restaurant?
The shrimp and crab open face quesadilla at Red Mesa Cantina
What makes the dish so special?
I’m a big seafood lover and it’s served with an awesome jalapeno crema that I add to almost everything I get there
When did you first try it?
Probably around a year ago. I’ve never had anything there I didn’t like so I’m always trying anything new.
How did you hear about the restaurant?
I’m good friends with the owner, we went to UCF together years ago.
What is something a first-time visitor to your restaurant should definitely try?
The blackened grouper Benny. It’s a big handmade Hawaiian sweetbread bun we make in house topped with a tangy Costa Rican sauce we also make in house. It’s all very unique and you’re not going to be able to find it anywhere else.
Franklin on Twiggs Eatery and Market
514 N. Franklin St. #105 | (813) 902-2118
Red Mesa Cantina
128 3rd St. S.