Media Advisory - Photo Opportunity - Groundbreaking on Ulele Restaurant in Historic Water Works Building

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Mayor Bob Buckhorn will join Richard and Casey Gonzmart of the Columbia Restaurant Group to break ground on the renovations of the Tampa Heights Waterworks building. The Gonzmarts and their team will redevelop the historic property to create a restaurant and brewery called, Ulele, (pronounced: U-lay-lee). The restaurant and brewery will serve unique foods and spirits by fusing elements from a rich variety of Native American and multicultural cuisines. The menu will feature items indigenous to local waters and crops, with significant influence by the components and flavors of the early Native Americans who lived in Florida, and European explorers.

Heading up the team is Keith Sedita. Sedita is a restaurant industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. Most recently he was part of the team that developed the concept for Carmel Café & Wine Bar. Prior to that, Sedita was with OSI Restaurant Partners for 13 years including Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse in Tampa and Naples and Carrabbas Italian Grill.

Eric Lackey is Ulele’s executive chef. Lackey has spent 17 years in the Tampa Bay area, most recently as the corporate chef for Flamestone American Grill and Besa Grill and prior to that as executive chef at The Grill at Feather Sound.

Tim Shackton is Ulele’s brewmaster. He brings 20 years of experience in the restaurant industry to the team, including 13 years as a brewmaster for Hops Grill and Brewery.

Columbia Restaurant Group has partnered with Tampa’s Beck Group for Ulele’s architectural design and construction, working with associate principal Joe Harrington and architect Jeet Singh. The Beck Group will renovate the interior of the Waterworks building while preserving the historic character of its red-brick exterior. The Beck Group is located next door to Ulele.

Tampa Bay’s SSA design firm is working with the Ulele team to design an innovative kitchen, complete with a 10 foot diameter, citrus wood burning round grill. SSA founder Ken Schwartz’s family has worked with the Gonzmart family since 1935 on their restaurant projects and is committed to finding energy efficient, American-made equipment.

An emphasis is on hiring from within the Tampa Heights community, with plans to employ graduates from surrounding high school culinary programs. Between 100-110 people will be hired.

Ulele will be family-friendly, offering indoor and outdoor dining along Tampa's Riverwalk with beautiful views of the flowing Ulele Spring (which served as the source of water for the city of Tampa from 1903 to approximately 1930), the Hillsborough River, and Water Works Park.

The restaurant will be located 400 yards north of Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts at 7th Avenue and Doyle Carlton Drive and is expected to be completed in February 2014.


Mayor Bob Buckhorn
Richard and Casey Gonzmart


June 26, 2013
10 a.m.


202 W. 7th Ave.
**Please park on street or in the Beck parking lot across 7th Ave. The entrance to the event will be towards the rear of the building.


Ali Glisson
Public Affairs Director
(813) 274-8262


The Water Works building, located along the east side of the Hillsborough River in the Tampa Heights neighborhood, is a local historic landmark. The 9,800 square foot brick building was constructed in the early 1900's as the City's third potable water pumping station. The station was decommissioned in 1930 and later served as city office and storage space.

In 2012, the City of Tampa issued an RFP and chose the team of the Columbia Restaurant Group and Metro Bay Real Estate, LLC to redevelop the historic Water Works Building.