Lutz Ava’s Lowcountry Cuisine soul food restaurant expands with indoor seating

The pandemic has thrown many curved balls at restaurateurs over the past six months. While some had to close, others used this time to get creative with deals and trades.

One of those restaurateurs is a disabled veteran mother and former personal NBA chef Ava Evans, better known as Chef Ava. The chef-owner made his debut Ava’s Lowcountry Kitchen in December 2019, offering only lunch services, but once the self-quarantine began during the pandemic, it was forced to rotate and started operating on weekends and offering meal plans, allowing diners to taste a variety of its menu. Since the unit next to the restaurant is newly vacant, Ava’s is taking over the space and will begin offering indoor seating at the end of October.

“As a new restaurant that opened in the midst of the pandemic, it has been a challenge to keep our doors open. Especially since we were not eligible for many of the financial relief options offered by the government. While it’s a challenge, we really want to help Tampa Bay area residents enjoy Lowcountry cuisine near their homes, ”Chef Ava wrote in a statement.

Located off State Road 54 in Lutz at 112 Flagship Drive, Ava’s serves up Lowcountry favorites with a Southern twist.

That means you eat like a Blackberry Cobb Salad, Carolina Okra, Three Cheese Macaroni with your choice of Red Wine Ribs or Herbed Beef Tenderloin. Without forgetting the accompaniments like candied yams, braised collard greens and elote corn. The line of desserts includes cobblers like the banana, berry, peach and pumpkin spice cheesecake.

“Best of all, our meals are prepared fresh, from scratch by highly skilled chefs and cooks. We source the highest quality locally grown produce, protein and other produce, showcasing the best of Tampa and Florida, ”said the chef.

“We do more than soul food. We can make homemade pasta, French and Spanish cuisine foods. We can do whatever we want and add our own touch to it, ”she told CL in March. At the time, Chef Ava told CL that she tried to stop cooking several times, but people kept calling and she couldn’t deny that cooking was her goal.

“I love what I do. I know I want to grow up and be taller,” she said.

Chef Ava began her career in the kitchen while on active duty in the military while attending Chef’s Academy in Raleigh, North Carlina. After her medical retirement from the military in 2014, she looked at her life differently. Evans began his culinary career as a personal chef in 2016, cooking for Charlotte Hornets basketball players Kemba Walker and Nick Batum at one point.

“When I went back to culinary school, I met a guy who was cooking for the athletes. I was persistent and stayed in touch with him. That’s how I got the kitchen job for the Hornets players, ”says Evans, who is the sole owner of Ava’s Lowcountry Cuisine.

The concept now offers take-out, limited covered outdoor meals and delivery by Uber Eats. Chef Ava also offers catering services, private chef services, virtual cooking classes, meal preparation and vacation chef services. By the way, the restaurant offers military, medical professionals, first responders and teachers discounts and specials all year round.

Ava’s Lowcountry Cuisine is open from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. And while we still don’t know when Ava expands beyond weekend catering services, Evans says it’s a blessing to go this far as a new business.

“I want to open a café or a restaurant with my customers who leave with a smile on their face. My goal at 10 is to open a hotel with a restaurant, ”she says.

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