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Meet Tommy Villani: Owner of Irma’s Tacos in the Marketplace

Amazing street tacos, craft beer, and cocktails have arrived at the Marketplace with the grand opening of Irma’s Tacos, Craft Beer and Tequila Bar this summer. Owner Tommy Villani, a native of Oklahoma who has relocated to Southwest Florida, shares his thoughts on the Marketplace and Wellen Park, chats us through his favorites and what to expect when dining at Irma’s, and gives us a sneak peek of an upcoming venture in our dynamic, fun, and vibrant community!

Where are you originally from?

“I was born in Orange County California but spent the majority of my youth in Tulsa, Okla.”

Do you live in Wellen Park? If so, how long have you lived here?

“Right now I do not live in Wellen Park. With the opening of Barrel & Bean (more details on this below) in late 2020, I do plan on becoming a resident in the next couple of years! Golf cart life for the win!”

Why did you choose The Marketplace at Wellen Park?

“Our sister restaurant is Off The Wagon Brewery & Kitchen, which is home to 3 Bridges Brewing.  We have created a great working relationship with CoolToday Park and the Atlanta Braves, where we serve our craft beer in the stadium. This was our first bridge into the community and the growth of our brand seemed to fit with the brand and demographic of Wellen Park. We are super excited about our new concepts down here and to be a part of such an energetic and supportive community.”

What’s your favorite part about being located at The Marketplace in Wellen Park?

“Being a part of the first major commercial retail complex in Wellen Park has to be one of the best perks you could ask for as a tenant.  We have the opportunity to expose our brand to thousands and thousands of new homeowners, in one of the best selling master-planned  communities in the country.”

What about this new venture are you most excited about?

“The opportunity to be in this great, new community providing one of the most creative food and cocktail menus in SWFL [Southwest Florida].  We want everyone to  visit us and enjoy the experience.  It’s more than just a meal, it’s a complete experience from the culinary to the craft beer, craft cocktails, and high-end tequilas.”

What can someone expect when visiting The Marketplace at Wellen Park?

“Residents and visitors can expect to have most of their daily needs met here.  From a bunch of different ethnicities of food to a brand new Publix, frozen yogurt and so much more.”

What can someone expect when dining at Irma’s Tacos?

“A total experience. From the moment you walk in, you see the 120 tequila and 10 mezcal bottles in lit up lockers. From there, you will immediately see the open kitchen concept which will produce the best chef-driven, fresh, handmade craft tacos in SWFL. Tortillas made by hand, a menu that is truly unique and exciting, a cocktail list that features drinks in awesome vessels, and craft beer that is made right up the road by 3 Bridges. The place is cool, it’s different and we promise you that your experience will be unlike anything else in Sarasota County.”

Opening a new restaurant has to be really exciting for you! Do you have any other new openings or plans in your future?

“We are really excited to be partnering with The Wellen Park Welcome Center on a new project called Barrel & Bean. This will be a 1200sf space located in the Welcome Center, slated to be completed in September.  We will be offering Venitian Coffee Roasters coffee and pastries in the morning, sandwiches and paninis for lunch, and small plates, wine, and craft beer for happy hour and dinner. This will be a very intimate concept with creatively inspired plates by Executive Chef Mike Leopold, local craft beer from 3 Bridges, and a great rotating wine list.”

What dish/drink would you recommend someone try and why?

“This is such a tough question.  My first recommendation would be to come in 3 times a week and work your way through all the menus!  For an app, our best selling item will definitely be the Queso Fundido. On the cocktail menu, our Maestro Tiki and Smokey Margarita are show stoppers. We feature 12 different and unique craft beers. The taco menu features 26 different tacos. The traditional Al Pastor taco is so flavorful and ‘The Dirty Frank’ is loaded with toppings!”

What do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not hard at work at Irmas Tacos?

“Spare time has been a bit of a dream lately.  I really enjoy spending time out on the boat, playing golf, and traveling.”

This or that:

• Beer or Tequila – Tequila
• Chicken or carnitas – Carnitas
• Guacamole, sour cream, or salsa? – As someone special in my life says, all the sauces and dips!

Favorite dish to serve up and why?

“Nothing brings happiness like a good Queso Fundido. Who doesn’t love melted cheese and chorizo served on fresh hand-made tortillas?”

Favorite cocktail to make and why?

“Margaritas have been my go-to over the years!  The truth is, great margaritas take time and effort to make.  Freshly squeezed fruit juices and great tequilas are the keys to making the best and most refreshing margaritas!”

*In case you missed it, Tommy hosted a LIVE session over on our Facebook page in June, where he showed us how to craft two perfect cocktails

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