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Plant City Observer Friday, May. 19, 2017 6 months ago

New food spots pop up in Plant City

Within the past month, Plant City residents got three new options for eats around town.
by: Daniel Figueroa IV Staff Writer

The Captain’s Ship Fish Market

Fried Fish Sandwich

When Darnell Cole, a retired education administrator, moved to

Plant City about three years ago with his wife, Theresa, a nurse at Ultimate Medical Academy in Tampa, he knew he wanted to start a small business. He just wasn’t sure what that would be.

“I asked people around what was needed,” Darnell Cole said. “The more people I talked to, this (a fish market) kept coming up.” 

About one month ago, Darnell Cole unfurled the sails of The Captain’s Ship Fish Market, a small storefront on Baker Street selling a selection of fresh fish and seafood. 

While the store’s primary function is as a seafood market, it offers limited menu items including a fried fish sandwich and, soon, fish and chips. The sandwich can be made with any fish from the day’s fresh selection and costs about $8. Served between two slices of white bread with lettuce, tomato and mustard, do not be fooled by this sandwich’s simplicity. The freshness of the fish is bolstered by a homemade batter’s flavor. The other sandwich add-ons complement the fish and allow it to shine, creating a lunchtime snack.

Darnell Cole said the Captain’s Ship will soon offer a “buy two, get one free” special on sandwiches between 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.

Fish isn’t the only thing on Darnell Cole’s mind. He hopes the Captain’s Ship will “provide quality, fresh seafood to Plant City and surrounding communities, then take those resources and put something back into the community. That’s important, too.”

Apple Berries

Chocolate chip-walnut Pancakes

Apple Berries opened in early May, taking over the location of

the defunct Plant City Cafe in the Village at Walden Lake Plaza, and is the product of a lifetime’s worth of restaurant experience.

Husband-and-wife duo Sheree and Ronnie Hess are the owners. Sheree Hess has been working in restaurants for more than 30 years, since she was about 15 years old. Finally, Ronnie Hess said, the couple felt it was time to have a place of their own.

Breakfast items such as waffles ($4.50, $5.50 for Belgian), made with a homemade batter, and pancakes customizable with options such as chocolate chip-walnut ($3.99 for a short stack, $4.99 for a full stack), have proven popular, Ronnie Hess said.

They’ve also had success with burgers.

“We do a high-end burger,” Ronnie Hess said. “Everybody loves the burger.”

Ronnie and Sheree even have their own signature burgers. Sheree’s Blue Burger ($8.49) is topped with blue cheese and Ron’s Breakfast Burger ($9.25) is topped with bacon, egg and cheese.

The Hess family is particularly proud of their Latin American offerings. A more than 40-year-old recipe is used for deviled crab ($4.49) they get from Ybor City, and an Ybor City Classic Cuban ($6.49 for a 6-inch and $8.49 for a 9-inch) is made with ham, salami, swiss cheese and house-made roast pork.

Ronnie Hess said he was excited to come to Plant City, which he sees as a welcoming community.

“Everybody is awesome out here,” Ronnie Hess said. “The people are super nice. They treat you like you are at home around here. It’s a lot different that Tampa.”

Hibachi Express

Hibachi Salmon

Restaurants offering Far East fare might be few and far between

in Plant City, but with the opening of Hibachi Express in the Walden Woods shopping center, a new option is growing in popularity.

Hibachi Express is a counter service restaurant offering freshly prepared Japanese dishes. Highlights of the Hibachi Express menu include an assortment of maki, the ubiquitous seaweed-wrapped Japanese sushi rolls, and hibachi entrees, meat and vegetables prepared in the Japanese Teppanyaki style made popular by American hibachi-grill restaurants.

With lunch specials priced at $6.95 between 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. daily, diners can choose two rolls from a lunch selection, or hibachi entrees served with fried rice and mixed vegetables. All lunch specials come with a fountain drink.

The new restaurant on the block also offers dinner options. With portions larger than those of the lunchtime menu, dinner pricing for hibachi entrees (vegetarian, steak, shrimp or salmon served with fried rice, mixed vegetables and a salad) ranges from $8.95 to $11.95. 

For the restaurant, quality and presentation are part of the deal customes get when they walk in the door. According to the restaurant’s staff, the Snow Mountain Roll (imitation crab meat, shrimp tempura and avocado topped with spicy mayonnaise and crunch, $8.95) has become one of the most popular items. 

Salmon, which can be easy to overcook and is rare in quick-serve settings, was flavorful and moist. The vegetables were also well-cooked, served reasonably al-dente without turning to mush. 

The Plant City location is the latest franchise of this growing chain. Hibachi Express also has a sister restaurant in Lakeland, located at 5351 N. Socrum Loop. Both locations offer the same hours for customers. 


Contact Daniel Figueroa IV at [email protected].

Daniel Figueroa IV is a Staff Writer at the Plant City Times & Observer. He has been covering Plant City since 2017. Previously, he was the politics and veteran affairs reporter at the Ledger of Lakeland. He probably wants to ride motorcycles and trade books with...

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