“It’s a home run.”

That’s how Wesley Chapel’s Jon Kramer described the KRATE at the Grove’s Grand Opening on June 4, while sitting in the shade holding a beer as his wife Faith sipped on a sangria. Their dogs, Marley, a 5-year-old Golden Doodle, and Maverick, a 6-year-old Labradoodle, also enjoyed the shade. 

Developer Mark Gold promised KRATE would be cool. And on June 4, that’s what he delivered.Thousands — maybe 8,000 or so, according to one estimate, but no matter your guess, the number was many more than expected — swept up and down the rows of converted shipping containers. Some sat and listened to music, children got their faces painted and frolicked on the playground, and slowly but surely the large crowd completely drained many of the 18 open restaurants of their tasty contents. leaving the owners and their employees with no time to catch their breath.

Miguel Calvo, who owns Chamo Bites, lives five minutes from the KRATE at the Grove, and had to run home four times to get more food to restock his container. At the end of the day, he was moved, maybe even a little shaken, by the outpouring of support. He called it “life-changing” and showed off an arm full of goosebumps.

It was the kind of festive event that Chappies have been yearning for. 

“This is the best thing to ever happen to this place,” said Jon, who has lived just a few footsteps away from The Grove for 22 years. He has watched what was once nothing but a strip mall sprout from the ground, then wither and nearly die, until Gold showed up and promised to save it.

When Gold and Co. crossed the finish line at the Grand Opening, Jon and Faith were there to celebrate with them.Twice, in fact. The Kramers came in the morning, and then returned again in the evening.

And, get this — in between, they drove to downtown Tampa to have a drink at Sparkman Wharf, the trendy, smaller container park that opened along Channelside Dr. in 2018.

And, while Wesley Chapel may still not be quite as hip as downtown Tampa, it’s clear to Jon that Sparkman Wharf is now officially Tampa Bay’s “other” container park.

“KRATE blows it away,” he says. “They have a few bars and food and nothing else. Here, there is that and local artisans and local shops. It’s just better.”

That will be music to Gold’s ears. On numerous occasions, due to the delays and hurdles, the developer has referred to the nearly three-year KRATE project as “Mission Impossible.” But, he never doubted that once it was completed, it would be a big hit.

A home run, even.

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