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Everybody's Business

Restaurant flying high

Published May 25, 2007


After his career as a fighter pilot in the Indian Navy ended, Saravana "Pat" Bhava knew it was time to choose a new direction. Should he apply to fly commercial airliners? Or put his recently earned degree - a master's in business administration - to good use?

Bhava, 34, chose the latter, deciding to open an Indian food takeout joint in South Tampa. Not coincidentally, the takeout is close enough to serve people traveling to and from MacDill Air Force Base. He likes the military atmosphere.

The "restaurant" at 5825 S MacDill Ave., called Tun-du-ree, is actually a colorful painted trailer. It's meant to be a haven for anyone hankering for inexpensive and accessible Indian food.

Lots of Indian food in the United States is served in upscale, formal settings where prices can be "ridiculously high, " Bhava said. His takeout is cheap. Nothing is more than $5.99, and military personnel get a discount.

Tun-du-ree, which Bhava said is the only place for Indian food in South Tampa, opened in March. Keeping up with the demand for his food is tough.

"I sell out almost every day, " he said. "It's a nice problem to have."

Bhava has long dreamed of owning his own business. He earned his MBA at the Symbiosis Institute of Business Management in India while finishing up a 13-year career in the Indian Navy.

Eight months ago he moved with his family to Florida and got his commercial pilot license, but he decided he wanted an entirely new career.

With Tun-du-ree (named, he says, after an ancient Indian grill), Bhava is starting small. He hopes to open other locations eventually.

A major challenge to preparing Indian food in Tampa is getting authentic spices. Bhava has his mother send them from India.

The shop sells tandoori chicken and various curries, Indian breads, basmati rice, and pressed sandwiches.

Hours are weekdays 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Wednesdays) and noon to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Shop comes home

Home Depot will sell kitchen cabinets and lawn mowers soon in a spot where gay-themed movie and gift shop MC Film Festival now sits in St. Petersburg.

So gift shop co-owners Mark Bias and Carrie West decided it was finally time to return to familiar territory: Tampa.

Bias and West actually never left - the longtime partners have been South Tampa residents all along.

But in 1999 they closed their Kennedy Boulevard store and moved their business across the bay, where the gay and lesbian community was blossoming.

Since then, they've operated MC Film Festival out of St. Petersburg's gay-themed Suncoast Resort and will stay there until the property is sold to Home Depot and the resort is torn down. When that will be is uncertain.

In the meantime, they're opening a second shop at 1901 N 15th St., in a part of Ybor City that houses a number of gay businesses and bars.

So at least until the St. Petersburg store closes, the business partners will have two stores.

The 1, 500-square-foot MC Film shop will offer gifts, music, clothing, collectibles and DVD rentals, West said. It's scheduled to open June 1.

West said he thinks the store will fit right in.

"We've had so many people come up to us and say thank you for coming to Ybor City, " he said. "We're so glad to be back in Tampa."

Hours will be Sunday through Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., and noon to 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

Beauty by the slice

A tiny pie-shaped storefront at International Plaza soon will be dishing up love lettuce, butterball, and creamed almond and coconut "smoothies."

It's not lunch - it's Lush.

The self-described fresh, handmade cosmetics company is expected to open its 500-square-foot bath, hair and skin care store in early June right next to behemoths Aveda and Bath and Body Works.

"It's designed to resemble a 'cosmetics deli, ' " Lush spokeswoman Brandi Halls said. "We have big blocks of soap you can cut - just like you'd cut a piece of cheese."

The company's signature "bath bombs" are displayed like fruits in a basket.

Founded in England in 1994, Lush expanded to Canada in 1996 and opened its first U.S. store in San Francisco in 2002.

Lush now has 36 U.S. stores with 20 more scheduled to open this year.

The other Florida stores are both in Orlando, at the city's international airport and the Florida Mall.

Do you know something that should be everybody's business? Call 226-3394 or e-mail


. The find

Patriotic caps

As we remember and honor war heroes on Memorial Day, consider a visit to the Army Navy Surplus Market at 1312 N Tampa Ave. You can get lost in its vast depository of military, camping and hunting gear. If you like to sport a patriotic baseball cap, you'll find dozens for $9.99 and up. Call 229-2172.

Amy Scherzer


[Last modified May 24, 2007, 07:57:04]

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