Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: Kevin Kruszewski

March 31, 2014 | South Tampa Magazine | Categories: Editorial, Food | Tags: Kevin Kruszewski, Pane Rustica, Sa Ri One, Shin Ramyun, Terra Mia

Tampa Bay’s Best Dish: Shin Ramyun

Pane Rustica owner Kevin Kruszewski selects the Shin Ramyun from the Korean restaurant, Sa Ri One


How did you get started as a chef?

When I was 15, I asked my father for some money and he got this big smile on his face and he said get in the car, we’re going for a drive. I was thinking, ‘awesome, we’re going to go down to the bank and a withdrawal.’ But he actually drove me three miles down the road to this country club called Brandywine. I ended up getting a job as a busboy and it was one of the best, life-changing experiences I could ask for it. I was in a kitchen with this classically trained chef and in the dining room was the most personable maitre d you could ever meet. At 15, I knew that was what I wanted to do. I finished high school and went to Bowling Green State University where I got my bachelors in communications and worked in various food service jobs. That’s when I met my wife. After graduation, I told her that I wanted to learn more about the business and cooking and that this was going to be my career path. So from there, we went to upstate New York where I went to the Culinary Institute of America.

How did you end up in Tampa?

I was a chef at a few restaurants in the Boston area but ended up at a place called Terra Mia. One day, some bread came through the front door from this vendor and I was so blown away by the complexity and hardiness of it that I pulled the invoice, grabbed the phone and told them that I want to work for them and learn how to make bread. For nine months, I worked seven days a week as a line cook and at the bakery just learning about the possibilities of what I could do. While we were in Boston, we had gone through some record-breaking snowfalls, one of which literally crushed my Mazda Miata. I knew then that I was out of there. The thought crossed my mind of opening my own restaurant. In Boston, I’d be a little fish in a big pond. We figured let’s see what Tampa can bring and we literally quit our jobs and moved here without knowing what was in store for us. That was 1997.

Talk about the beginnings of Pane Rustica.

Our thought was if you create something that people want, they’re willing to do whatever they can to find it. We opened the first restaurant July 1999 and I only had four employees. In that first year of opening, we made 40,000 sandwiches. At the end of the day, we’d cash out and there would be $1,200 and be like, ‘yes!’ And now… the good Lord has been good to me.

How has the restaurant evolved?

In the beginning, I wanted only to be 75-percent wholesale bread. My idea was bake bread at night, listen to reggae and send the bread out in the morning and maybe offer a few sandwiches. Now I have five full-time bakers and we’re baking anywhere between 6,000-8,000 pounds of bread per week—that’s three to four tons of bread. We distribute to Ocean Prime, Ruth’s Chris, Marriott Waterside Hotel, Salt Rock Grill.

When’s the first time you came to Sa Ri One?

It was several years ago. This is so removed from what I do on a daily basis, its kind of like therapy. What comes out of this small kitchen is so consistent; it’s amazing.

Why is this the best dish you’ve had in Tampa?

It’s comfort food, really. And like most Korean entrees, they serve you these cool little side dishes and they make the best kimchi here. It takes about a bottle and a half of Listerine to clean your palate afterward (laughs). It’s spicy and the price point is staggering for the amount of food they give you here.


Shin Ramyun

By: Sa Ri One

Spicy noodle soup with egg


Sa Ri One is located at 3940 W. Cypress St., Tampa, FL 33607. For more information, call (813) 874-2911.