It took more than four months to completely renovate the storefront in Kings Row shopping center that once housed the Pirate's Cove bar.
But for 20-year Brandon resident Ty Mathis, every nail hammered and every swipe of the paintbrush was a labor of love.
"This is definitely a dream come true for me," said Mathis of his newly opened restaurant, The Stein & Vine, 827 W. Bloomingdale Ave., Brandon.
With its black-painted exposed ceiling, interior brickwork from an old schoolhouse in Ybor City, custom-made cast iron chandeliers and dark carved woodwork, Mathis transformed the storefront into a space reminiscent of a German pub.
Even the top of the bar bears Mathis' personal touch. It's covered with hundreds of pennies, heads up, that Mathis placed himself and then set with epoxy.
"It took a week and a half to place all the pennies," he said.
His vision was to create an inviting space where residents can enjoy good food, premium craft beers and fine wines.
For Mathis, who worked 15 years for Pepin Distributing Co. and served as chef at River Hills Country Club, offering customers a unique experience was all-important.
"This was something I always wanted to do," said Mathis, who dabbles in home brewing as a hobby. "When I saw this place open up, I decided now was the time."
The Stein & Vine offers 27 craft beers on tap and more than 30 wines by the glass or bottle from all over the world.
But it's the menu that truly sets The Stein & Vine apart.
The restaurant's best seller is a dish created by Mathis that he calls "pig wings."
"They're mini pork shanks served similar to chicken wings made with a choice of five homemade sauces including Sriracha ranch, habanero barbecue, Latin lime, teriyake chili and buffalo," said Mathis.
For $6.95, customers receive five pig wings
Other unusual offerings include Cajun-fried corn on the cob, the Juicy Lacey cheeseburger prepared with cheese between the patties and the 33 1/3 burger made with ground beef mixed with ground bacon. The burgers are served with tater tots, "because who doesn't like tater tots?" asked Mathis.
Other menu items are Baja chicken tacos, Cobb salad, Curious Traveler Drunken Shrimp served with toasted bread and a 6-ounce ribeye steak sandwich.
"I offer fresh soups every day, including traditional French onion soup and chili, plus I'll be offering two or three new menu items each day," said Mathis.
To further emphasize the Old-World pub atmosphere, the restaurant is outfitted with steel-tip professional dart boards for dart enthusiasts to enjoy.
The Stein & Vine opens at noon and closes "whenever everyone goes home," said Mathis.
For more information, call 813-655-4786 or visit The Stein & Vine Facebook page to see the day's specials.