Newcomers to Byblos Cafe may think they’ve stumbled into a sultan’s court: belly dancers wind their way past private enclaves replete with plush footstools and gossamer curtains, and heaping trays of charbroiled meats fill the air with the scents of basil and mint. The sultry atmosphere reflects owners Roger and Ziad Estephan’s mission to share their Lebanese heritage, which they do through every minor and major detail.
Beyond the glowing candles scattered throughout the dining areas, chefs draw upon Estephan family recipes to prepare a menu of traditional Mediterranean dishes. They hand roll grape leaves around spiced rice and herbs, and they marinate meats in fragrant blends of olive oil, lemon, and garlic—the base ingredients in Lebanese Febreze. Additionally, Byblos Cafe houses an international market where diners can stock up on Middle Eastern groceries.
Revolve Clothing Exchange recognizes the cyclical influence of fashion. To carve out its niche and impede the constant flow of textile waste, the boutique buys, sells, and swaps new and vintage apparel from celebrated brands such as Diesel, American Apparel, and Anthropologie. This has earned it the loyal patronage of local fashion mavens and Creative Loafing Tampa's Best of the Bay Awards for Best Consignment and Best Women's Clothing Boutique in 2012. Its ever-changing arsenal of skirts, hats, shoes, and tops spans all styles and eras, from the floral prints and mini dresses inspired by the 1960s to the 8-foot-tall wigs from the 1760s. Skilled clothing appraisers maintain a curated collection of high-end boots, jeans, jewelry, and dresses, buying strictly from a list of brands and styles that focus on seasonality.
Grown from two small shops to 28 locations by the sweat equity of a hard-working father-and-son team, McGee Tire’s open-air bays now proudly display the cobalt and maize décor signifying their status as authorized Goodyear dealers. Skilled hands outfit hoisted cars with conventional and standard oil while computerized systems recalibrate tires, brake service secures stoppers, and transmission tune-ups correct gear-bound problems. At the core of full-scale commercial fleet services, a specialized shearography machine helped earn McGee Auto Service & Tire a mention on Modern Tire Dealer's Top 100 Retreaders in the U.S. list. Oversize vehicle service also caters to recreational drivers, with RV service including repairing electrical systems, recalibrating drive trains, and restocking the feedback of the horn's onboard bugler.
The Perfect Touch's expert aestheticians administer a whitening treatment that can turn teeth 5 to 14 shades brighter in less than an hour. During the procedure, a soothing blue LED laser light activates an organic hydrogen-peroxide gel to grapple unruly biters into sparkling submission. The food-grade gel, which is concocted from plant- and mineral-sourced materials, is designed to keep sensitive or crotchety fangs from rioting in your mouth. Once the tonal transformation is complete, patients walk away with the graffiti of tobacco, wine, coffee, and age erased from the highway overpass of their smiles. The results typically last one to three years but will last longer if mouthbones are properly maintained through careful dental hygiene and bribery of the Tooth Fairy.
Tampa Olive Oil Company vends gourmet olive oils, balsamic vinegars, and other culinary accessories designed to add depth and character to meals. Fruity or grassy olive oils from Greece, Italy, and Morocco sidle up to their flavored brethren, which are infused with aromas such as basil, truffles, or roasted peppers. Customers can use the oils to flavor hearty roasts and sautés or combine them with classic and flavored balsamic vinegars for a light, tangy salad dressing.
Other artisanal offerings, including spices, specialty oils, and scented sea salts, round out Tampa Olive Oil Company's selection of edibles. In addition, serving accessories such as oil sprayers, pour spouts, and dipping saucers help customers discontinue their usual practice of serving condiments through a fire hose.
Gwen Willhite founded Cookies by Design in 1983, when an unsatisfying brainstorming session about gift ideas led her to ponder one question: why should flowers and sweets remain separate? Her solution was to design the cookie bouquet, where custom, hand-decorated cookies are displayed on sticks and arranged like flowers in gift baskets. Her invention quickly became a popular gift among locals, particularly those allergic to real blooms or too bashful to look at naked cookies.
Twenty-five years later, there are more than 200 Cookies by Design locations across the country. Each shop's team of bakers creates cookie baskets with a degree of care that matches Willhite's original vision, decorating and arranging sweet shapes for birthdays, holidays, and any other special occasion.