La Segunda Bakery is bringing Ybor City to South Tampa this summer — its signature Cuban bread and guava flips, of course, but also the iconic bricks, wrought iron and globe lights that define the historic neighborhood where the bakery was founded in 1915 and still makes 18,000 loaves a day.
The bakery’s second location in 103 years will be in a strip center fronting Kennedy Boulevard, a completely renovated retail property that also landed the city’s first Metro Diner.
"We’re planning to bring a lot of Ybor to South Tampa," said Copeland More, who co-owns the bakery with father, Tony More. "We call it Ybor food. A lot of people think it’s Cuban food, but it’s distinctly Italian, Spanish and Cuban dishes."
It’s been just under a year since the location was announced, but the younger More, 38, has been toying with the idea of an expansion for at least five or six years. The South Tampa site was available as La Segunda was wrapping up a rebranding effort, and at the same time, More felt confident enough in the bakery’s culture and process to pursue a second store. They plan to open in mid- to late July.
The expansion coincides with a time when Tampa is embracing both its urban neighborhoods and local food scene, setting the La Segunda expansion up for success. If the South Tampa location takes off, Copeland More says, he’d like to do more, though he has no set number in mind. The total investment in the South Tampa spot is $800,000, which includes construction and equipment costs for the 3,082-square-foot space.
"We could stay in Ybor and just keep doing what we’re doing, but I felt it was an opportunity and a good business decision to take the brand elsewhere," he said. "A lot of the trends now are centered on local [foods], so it was beneficial timing."
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The elder More, 75, has his retirement date already set: Jan. 1, 2019. He and his son are 50/50 partners; come 2019, he’ll still be involved, but not to the degree he is now. (On Tuesday morning, he received two text messages before he got out of bed, alerting him that the power had gone out at the Ybor bakery.)
Post retirement, he imagines most of his involvement will be on training new bakers and literally keeping his hands in the business. He has a doctorate in chemistry from Florida State University and has long been drawn to the scientific side of baking.
"Pastry baking is very precise," he said. "If you weigh and measure, it always comes out right."
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Copeland More didn’t start his career in the bakery business. He attended Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and was college roommates with Andrew Wright, who went on to launch commercial real estate firm Franklin Street in Tampa.
More was on Wright’s capital markets team until the mid-2000s. The market crashed, and fortuitously, his father’s business partner approached him about buying out his share. The timing seemed perfect to return to the family business.
As the fourth generation to run La Segunda — but the first to pursue a second location — More sought advice from restaurateurs outside of his family. Chris Sullivan, the co-founder of Outback Steakhouse, is a family friend; More grew up with his son, Alex Sullivan, a partner in Carmel Cafe in South Tampa, and Chris Sullivan coached their Little League team.
More had picked out a second location for La Segunda, closer to the Westshore business district, which is the market he hopes to tap into. Chris Sullivan immediately told him it was a bad idea.
He admits he couldn’t ask for a better mentor; Sullivan is a legend in the industry and is in the process of building another behemoth: Metro Diner, which will be La Segunda’s neighbor in South Tampa.
"He was like ‘Absolutely not.’ It was about the ingress and egress," More said. "And that’s really what he was known for at Outback, his real estate knowledge. And I thought, I’m not going to argue with him.’"
Asked if Sullivan brought the same sharp focus to Little League that he does to his business ventures, More laughed.
"I won’t even go into some of the stories," he said, chuckling. "We still laugh about it — he was so intense, and we were 12."
Sullivan was not immediately available for comment on Tuesday.
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If any industry needs Sullivan’s level of intensity, it’s the restaurant business, where competition is as fierce as it’s ever been. Copeland More acknowledges this, and the South Tampa La Segunda will be built around an experience. The oven and pastry tables are on display, giving the restaurant a theatrical feel.
It’s also based on what the Mores see happening in Ybor: When employees go to the back to retrieve loaves of Cuban bread, they frequently see customers peering at the door, trying to get a glimpse of what’s going on.
"We really wanted to bring that kind of experience to the front of the house," Copeland More says. "There’s a lot of restaurants in this market, and we have to be different to be competitive."