The Fowler Avenue site of the closed HipHopSodaShop will become an Indian restaurant and a tobacco products wholesale distribution site.Tampa Palms resident Vijay Ghandi, owner of VP Enterprises Inc., recently bought the property and the 10,000-square foot restaurant at 1241 E. Fowler Ave. He paid $515,000 to acquire it from Bay Cities Bank.

Ghandi said he is leasing two-thirds of the building to the owners of Taste of India Restaurant and will use the remaining space for his business, which includes cigars and other tobacco products.

“This will be their fourth restaurant. They have one in Melbourne, Brandon and West Palm Beach,” Ghandi said. “Taste of India has a valuable reputation in Florida.”

He said the restaurant will probably open in mid-summer after painting and renovation.

“The previous owner abused the property from the inside,” he said.

Ghandi said he was attracted to the site because “it is a prime location” and other businesses catering to Indian families are nearby.

“Tampa is a big hub for the Indians,” he said.

The location had been a Hops restaurant, but that chain closed several years ago. Alexander Reid Land Development Inc. of New Jersey bought the property in 2005 for $1.26 million during the real estate boom. The company then opened The Bull Ring Restaurant but closed it about 18 months later.

The New Jersey company continued to own the property and in December 2007 leased to the HipHopSodaShop. The restaurant, billed as the first in a national chain, was a popular place to be seen during February 2009’s Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa.

However the HipHopSodaShop was evicted just months later for not paying its rent. When the property owners could not sell or lease it, they turned it over Bay Cities Bank in mid-December in lieu of foreclosure.

The property, which in 2000 sold for $1.5 million, has an assessed value of $502,964, according to the Hillsborough County Property Appraiser’s website.

Hip Hop Soda Shop Restaurant Closes Pics 

Hip Hop Soda Shop sign being removed from entrance as new restaurant prepares takeover

Opening of Hip Hop Soda Shop in Tampa Bay, Florida