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HipHopSodaShop's first will be on Fourth

Ex-Buc Warren Sapp is part of a group hoping the St. Petersburg venture will be a one-stop hot spot.

By PAUL SWIDER
Published October 4, 2006


ST. PETERSBURG - The gateway area is about to become the entree to the world of hip-hop when the country's first HipHopSodaShop opens there later this year.

H3 Enterprises is teaming with former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warren Sapp to open a store at 8901 Fourth St. N in November or December, said H3 president and founder Brian Peters.

"It's going to look like it's from another world," Peters said of the eventual $1-million makeover of a 5,000-square-foot building that used to house a Chinese restaurant. "It'll be like nothing anybody's ever seen before."

Peters wouldn't reveal decor details other than the black-and-red theme of the restaurant, but said it would contain numerous plasma screens, console games, a soda-shop style bar and other hip-hop accoutrements to appeal to a 13-35-year-old demographic. The thrust of the business, though, is to leverage the popularity of hip-hop but create a healthy environment for young people to gather.

"This is to give kids a place to hang out and call their own," Peters said.

The menu has no fried foods at all. The store will feature "rap" sandwiches with few carbohydrates, a beverage line made with antioxidant-rich white tea and sweetened with chicory syrup instead of sugar, and a community conscious approach to business. There will also be menu items like "FiftyCentC'pecials," "Juvenile Deliquacies" and "booD'licious" desserts.

The restaurant will hold special events like open mike nights, live sportscasts and gaming contests that appeal to men, but Peters said there will also be DJs and an emphasis on music to appeal to a female crowd as well. The store will also carry merchandise like clothing, MP3 players and recorded music.

"There'll be things for everybody to do," he said.

Peters said he worked with Sapp to select the Fourth Street location. He said they chose the site because it is in one of the largest concentrations of young singles in the area. There is also a bus stop nearby to make it accessible to those yet too young to drive, he said.

"It's the right combination of access to lots of different people," Peters said.

New York-based H3 will open five of the shops itself as showcases and then expand the concept to franchising, Peters said. He said other stores will follow in Orlando, New York and Las Vegas, where H3 will soon relocate.

Peters said the St. Petersburg store would open by the year's end, but he plans a grand opening early next year that will feature celebrities from hip-hop, sports and the broader entertainment world.

For further information about the business concept, go to hiphopsodashop.com/h3news.html

Paul Swider can be reached at 892-2271 or pswider@sptimes.com or by participating in itsyourtimes.com.


[Last modified October 4, 2006, 07:48:07]


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