Johnson and her mother Maria are often seen dishing out fresh meals to go like quinoa salad, garlic dill chicken salad and other top sellers such as their flavored hummus. They're known for delicious vegan and gluten free meals and baked goods as well.
"The stars are aligned," Johnson exclaimed during this past market.
After spending two years as a regular vendor at the market, Johnson says plans are moving full speed ahead to finally set up a "brick and mortar" location right here in Gulfport. This won't be Johnson's first experience running a local shop. She owned a restaurant years ago on Corey Avenue in St. Pete Beach. She closed that in 2008, worked as a general manager for Panera Bread for three years and then ended up starting her business again.
Johnson just signed the lease on Friday and hopes to have Mangia Gourment open at 2930 Beach Blvd. in three weeks.
"We're very excited," she said.
The spot, formally known as Paco's Tacos, features a courtyard and outdoor seating.
Johnson looked at that exact location a year ago but says it just wasn't possible — yet. Now, she has a new partner, Scott Linde, and a plan to bring her popular "to-go meals" to Gulfport full time. She also hopes to add a smoothie bar and possibly brew fresh local coffee.
"It's fate. The time is right," she said.
What makes Mangia Gourmet stand out its "take and go" layout.
"There will be no indoor seating," Jill Johnson said.
Inside, customers will find the same delicious dishes they buy now at the market. With its close proximity to the beach, the new deli will be a perfect place for beachgoers to buy snacks and meals for their picnic baskets.
In the meantime, you can catch Jill and her mother Maria at the Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market on June 4 and 11.
Kick Off Cocktail Party
Everyone is invited to a cocktail party on June 7 from 6-9 p.m. It will be held at the Park Room of Florencia Condos at 100 Beach Dr. NE, St. Petersburg, FL, 33701. Organizers are requesting a minimum donation of $35 per guest. There will be food, beer, wine and live music by the Urban Gypsies.
For more information and to RSVP email Jill Johnson at email@example.com.
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