This Monday, your new favorite local eatery will open in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg: Pom Pom’s Teahouse and Sandwicheria.This marks Pom Pom’s second location, the other being in Orlando, where it enjoys a cult-like following.
Walking into the brand new location, it quickly becomes apparent that this isn’t your average sandwich and tea shop. You are immediately greeted by bright green and orange floors and royal blue walls adorned with local art.
The sandwiches and teas are just as colorful.For drinks, Pom Pom’s has around 30 different teas such as lavender, peach, and chocolate hazelnut that can be mixed and matched to create hundreds of different flavors.There will also be old favorites such as Earl Grey.If tea isn’t for you, there will also be local craft beer on tap.
The most popular sammie on the menu is aptly named Mama Ling Ling’s Thanksgiving Dinner, which consists of turkey, gouda, stuffing, ginger cranberry chutney, mashed potato, and cream cheese with a side of gravy. And if that is too much of a mouthful, the Yellow Curry Chicken Salad sandwich contains apples, red onions and almonds pressed between your choice of sourdough, whole wheat, rye, or pumpernickel. For the less adventurous, you can also build your own sandwich.
These quirky sandwiches are the brainchild of founder Pom Moongauklang and owner Tom Woodard.“We are Mad Hatter meets Willy Wonka.If those two were to have lunch together, this is what they would come up with,” says Pom.
You would be hard-pressed to find anyone who takes making sandwiches more seriously than Moongauklang and Woodard.“Every bite should taste the same,” says Woodard.Pom agrees, “All four corners, everything is spread out evenly.There is definitely a science to building sandwiches.”
Who would ever think of making a sandwich with daikon or watercress anyway?When asked about the odd assortment of ingredients found in the sandwiches, Pom replied, “I dream about it.Something will come into my head and I have to try it.”
But she isn’t just a dreamer. She attended culinary school in New York City, specializing in pastries.The idea for sandwiches came while interning at Nobu, a Robert DeNiro fine dining restaurant.“Next door to Nobu was a deli and that’s where we would all go after work.We didn’t want to eat Kobe beef, we just went next door for our comfort food, which were sandwiches.”
When it came time for Pom to start her own restaurant, she decided to take a risk.She says, “I was kind of the black sheep of the family because I didn’t want to have another Thai restaurant.”
Woodard, the owner of Pom Pom’s St Pete, started out as a customer in Orlando. “I was very middle of the road before eating at Pom Pom’s”, he said.However, after giving the sandwiches a shot, he was hooked.“I kept coming back and trying different sandwiches until I had everything.”He eventually convinced Pom to let him open a location in St. Pete.
To Woodard, the St. Pete location is a no-brainer.“I did a lot of growing up here.And it is close to the water!Its right between downtown and the beaches.”As for Pom, “My family owned one of the first Thai restaurants here in St Pete.”
The St. Pete menu will feature a few creations not found at the Orlando location.For example, the Skyway Melt featuring smoked fish, capers, and onions will make its debut in the Sunshine City.
Be sure to check out Pom Pom’s when they open their doors at 2950 Central Ave this Monday from 1pm to 8pm.Eventually, the hours will extend to 11am to 10pm on the weekdays and 11am Friday to 8pm Sunday on the weekends (Yes, 57 straight hours).