The husband-and-wife team of Eddie and Lourdes Bujarski have helped hundreds of young people learn how to safely prepare and cook food from all over the world during their 18 years of running the Culinary Arts Program at New Tampa’s Wharton High.
That era ended at Wharton in December of 2017, after the Bujarskis took over the newly revamped restaurant at the Heritage Isles Golf Club the month before. When Eddie told me that during my most recent visit to their BayScape Bistro, I wondered why they continued to work at Wharton even though they had already taken the reins at the open-to-the-public eatery inside Heritage Isles.
“Well, when you’re a teacher,” Eddie told me, “you definitely feel obligated to finish out the semester. We couldn’t just leave those kids like that.”
That kind of commitment to their students is the same dedication the Bujarskis have brought not only to BayScape Bistro, but also to the local community — especially the residents of Heritage Isles.
“We found that the residents weren’t really eating at the restaurant unless they were golfers,” Eddie says. “Lourdes and I decided that we would have to change that to be successful here.”
And, change that they have. Although BayScape Bistro has a simple and not overly diverse menu, the menu items are all made with the same commitment to quality the Bujarskis tried to instill in their culinary students, many of whom have gone on to post-secondary cooking schools like the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) and Johnson & Wales University, and on to professional culinary careers.
In addition, at least 20 of those former students have worked at BayScape Bistro and several of them have told me how much they appreciate the Bujarskis’ no-nonsense approach to the restaurant business.
“They really know what they’re doing,” says Tristan, a former Wharton culinary student now working on his four-year culinary degree at Johnson & Wales while he hones his craft at BayScape Bistro. Tristan was the amazing young chef creating unique, made-to-order pasta dishes during BayScape’s recent Thursday night all-you-can-eat (for only $10 per person; $5 for kids under age 10!) sauté station, one of the restaurant’s newer “Daily Signatures”..
I can assure you that the smell of fresh garlic being heated in oil is enough to get you to try the pasta station, which gives you options like tender, grilled chicken, mojo pork, bacon, fresh spinach, tomatoes and much more, with your choice of pastas and a hearty marinara or creamy Alfredo sauce — or try it “Gary’s Way” (registered trademark pending), with just the garlic and oil.
According to BayScape’s online menu, Monday is “Sauté Night,” but Eddie says it has been so popular that the night Jannah and I were there (Thursday is also Trivia Night at BayScape) was the “tryout” for Thursday.
Tuesday is “Take-Out Tuesday,” where Eddie, Lourdes and their staff create different-each-week to-go packages which feed a family of four — for only $20! I unfortunately missed the recent fried chicken Takeout Tuesday, but Eddie promised me there will be more.
Wednesday is Ladies NIght (with $1 glasses of wine for the ladies), but it also is “Wings Wednesday,” where anyone can get six Buffalo or mojo wings for only $5.
On Fiesta Friday, which was mine and Jannah’s first experience with Eddie’s loyal crowd of super-fun regulars who come for dinner and stay for karaoke, you can enjoy tacos, fajitas and other Mexican favorites. It was our Fiesta Friday visit that convinced us to have both my birthday party in January and my “Gary’s 25 Years of Neighborhood News” celebration in April at BayScape, and I heard no complaints about the catering-style food at either of those events.
Saturday is “Live Music Night,” with a rotating lineup of artists and groups performing. Eddie says it’s also the night where he usually serves a steak or, occasionally, a fresh fish feature entrée, although he admits he hasn’t yet found a supplier with the kind of fresh fish he wants at the right price.
Sunday is “Family Night,” where one kid eats for free for each adult entrée purchased. The kids also are kept entertained with indoor games.
Jannah and I also have other favorites at BayScape, from the BayScape chef salad (with mojo pork, chicken and bacon and what Jannah says is the best ranch dressing around); the French dip sandwich with real au jus for dipping; the same tender roast beef also is available as a dinner plate with brown gravy; the grilled chicken club sandwich and the BayScape Cuban. There’s even a grilled veggie and cheese sandwich on the menu.
The picture above is the best breakfast I’ve had in New Tampa or Wesley Chapel. The thick-cut brioche French toast with two eggs perfectly over easy and the tastiest thick-cut bacon around with truly amazing cottage-fried potatoes and super- fresh (and delicious) fruit costs only $9.99. If you don’t need the French toast, the cost is only $7.99 with regular toast!
And, best of all, breakfast is served all day, so you can even have it for dinner if you have such a craving. Other breakfast dishes to try are the meat-lover’s hash, country fried chicken & eggs with pepper gravy, the “breakfast in hand” sandwich, pancake breakfast, create-your-own omelets and even a yogurt parfait with fresh fruit and house-made granola.
Still More To Come!
Eddie and Lourdes promise that more items will be added to BayScape Bistro’s unique menu, based on customer demand and boy, considering the place hasn’t yet been open for two years, there are a lot of regular customers enjoying the restaurant and bar, which has some of the most reasonable premium alcohol mixed drink prices around.
Friday karaoke nights are always packed and most of the main portion of the restaurant was full for Trivia Thursday. And, with Takeout Tuesdays averaging at least 50 family-of-four meals every week, it’s obvious that Eddie and Lourdes are building something special in New Tampa, even though Heritage Isles is almost at the Morris Bridge Rd. eastern end of Cross Creek Blvd.
And, keep reading the Neighborhood News for more info about a family-oriented Back-to-School Business Expo, in conjunction with the North Tampa Bay Chamber, coming sometime in August! There will be food, games for the kids and booths available for kid-oriented business sponsors.
BayScape Bistro at Heritage Isles (10630 Plantation Bay Dr.) opens at 9 a.m. for breakfast (8 a.m. on Sat. & Sun.) and stays open for lunch & dinner until 9 p.m. (10 p.m. on Fri. & Sat.).
For info, call (813) 994-3445, visit BayScapeFlorida.com or see the ad on pg. 39 of this issue.