TAMPA - At the corner of S. Howard and W. Marjory Avenues sits the iconic Tampa restaurant, Bern's Steakhouse, named for its founder Bern Laxer.
Now, after 56 years, the restaurant is partnering on a new project right across the street that will transform the SoHo district. It's called the Epicurean, a four-story boutique hotel.
David Laxer, the founder's son, currently runs the steakhouse.
"It's extremely exciting. It certainly allows us to be more creative in some of our offerings with what we can do with it culinary-wise with the new restaurant," said Laxer.
Along with 137 rooms and a full service spa, the hotel will focus on food. It will feature a retail and production bakery and pastry shop, as well as a state-of-the-art culinary classroom.
When the economy soured several years ago, plans for the hotel project basically fell apart.
That's when David Laxer connected with Joe Collier, president of Mainsail Lodging. The two have known each other for years. Together, they decided to restart the project.
"As things were going, with his expertise in the hotel business, my expertise in the restaurant business, to really make a great team to build a hotel that's going to represent our community well," Laxer explained.
The hotel will be branded under Marriott's prestigious Autograph Collection; although the Epicurean will be unique to itself, with a heavy influence from Bern's.
"The hotel's going to have a very food and beverage feel. We can't call it the Epicurean if we don't have great food and beverage," said Collier.
The Epicurean is scheduled to open in November, 2013.
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