Ex-Buc to open restaurants in area

Florida native Warren Sapp has signed an agreement to open HipHopSodaShop franchises in North and Central Florida.

Published June 22, 2006

After dining on quarterbacks for the past 11 seasons, Warren Sapp is jumping into the restaurant business and may be coming back to central Florida for his first course.

A former Tampa Bay Buccaneer defensive lineman who was a member of the Bucs' 2003 Super Bowl championship team, Sapp signed a development agreement this week with H3 Enterprises to open HipHopSodaShops in central and north Florida.

Billed as part MTV, part Starbucks and part soda shop, the restaurants will target teens and young adults by featuring hip-hop music, online sports games and healthy fast food.

A sample menu from the HipHopSodaShops Web site listed such wraps as "The Makavelli's Last Suppah H3's BlackElvis" and "MC's Hammajamma (H3's MonteCristo)" priced at $9.99 each.

Sapp, 33, was unavailable for comment Wednesday. But a spokeswoman for New York-based H3 Enterprises said Sapp was scouting locations in Treasure Island and Orlando. He will then sign a franchise agreement for each HipHopSodaShop he opens.

H3 Enterprises bills itself as the first publicly traded company dedicated to hip-hop music and culture. It's stock, which trades over the counter on the pink sheet market, closed Wednesday at 23 cents a share.

Since leaving the Bucs and the bay area after the 2003 season, Sapp has been playing for the Oakland Raiders. He was raised in Apopka and still has relatives in the Orlando area.

Sapp joins Chicago Bulls star Ben Gordon, tennis great Yannick Noah and rapper Juelz Santana as celebrities who have signed on with the restaurant chain, H3 said.

"I can't think of a better way of giving back than putting my money to work on my own turf for my own people," Sapp said in a statement.

Tom Zucco can be reached at zucco@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8247.