Thank you for your service Bob Buckhorn, Tampa’s Foodie Mayor

Today is Election Day in the City of Tampa for a new Mayor. Perfect day to reflect. I went to the Mayor’s Food Truck Fiesta few weeks ago in Lykes Gaslight Park. The food trucks were all arranged around with the block as they are every month and Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was spending his last time as the current Mayor there.

Bob Buckhorn was a big supporter of food trucks in a time period where most municipalities were firmly against local food trucks and had passed some of the most restrictive laws in the nation.

Some reporters at Tampa Bay Times were still writing falsehoods in 2011 about roach coaches in the 1970s, but Buckhorn knew better and proved it with inspections at every rally to show our food trucks are some of the cleanest businesses in town.

Tampa led the way nationwide in cities that supported food trucks and was rewarded with tourism and local business growth. It has been proven that food trucks help people get their dreams off the ground, and several local businesses in town are testaments of that.

I helped in 2013 to throw the World’s Largest Food Truck Rally EVER at the Florida State Fairgrounds and Bob Buckhorn was a huge supporter of the entire process.

The City of Tampa supported the initiative and helped to the support that helped make the event a success that drew over 30,000 people to the venue and was arguably one of the most successful days in food truck history here in Tampa. I will never forget the support he provided to the event and to the movement in general and I doubt most food truck owners will ever forget that day as well.

He said at the time, “I want to be known as the foodie capital and the king of the food truck movement.”

I literally rode on top of a double-decker food truck (Tropiccool) from ENCORE Tampa! Downtown onto Interstate-4 into the highway and rode in a parade of over 75 food trucks to the Florida State Fairgrounds. Helicopters following behind. It was a moment I may never forget in my life. Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn was there to kick off that magical moment with all the media of Tampa.

People can have their political disagreements with Bob Buckhorn, but one thing I think everyone can agree with is that Tampa has been lucky to have a mayor who legitimately cares about Tampa and has done everything in his power to make Tampa a better place to live.

From finishing up the Tampa Riverwalk, to being at every restaurant and business Grand Opening imaginable and supporting the Cuban Sandwich Festival to the opening at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, Bob Buckhorn has been there for this town in many ways. It is obvious that this man loves Tampa and I’m thankful for that. Thank you for your service to our growing City of Tampa.

Hopefully the next mayor will care about Tampa the same way, no matter who they are.

Jeff Houck says it well here:

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Chicago Paulie’s serves the best hot dog in Tampa

Several people have told me to try Chicago Paulie’s for the last few years. I made a mental note, but did not stop by until today. The restaurant stand is located in a gas station parking lot with a humble table and umbrella nearby in the corner of North Hyde Park (NoHo). This isn’t fancy eats, but an excellent culinary destination that most people will drive right past as they jump on Interstate 275 on Howard Avenue. Don’t be that person.

Chicago Hot Dog from Chicago Paulie's in Tampa

I ordered a Chicago hot dog and some fries. The hot dog was cooked to perfection. The toppings superb. No ketchup (of course), but a healthy amount of mustard. It was hot out. Summer is already starting to take over Florida and I really cannot think of a better thing to enjoy in the summer than a hot dog and maybe some beer. Fries were a nice add-on.

Chicago Paulie’s may be one of Tampa’s best kept secrets although people who love food know about it and they have won Best of the Bay from CL in the past. I thought about Taco Bus and California Tacos before Guy Fieri. Tampa has some good eats if you’re willing to go off the beaten path and many of them are undiscovered and hardly talked about. Chicago Paulie’s is one of those places that would immediately jump to the Food Network just for great eats.

My last visit to Portillo’s by USF was truly disappointing with a sad hot dog, mediocre toppings, a bad bun, and stale fries that would probably upset Mr. Portillo himself, but Chicago Paulie’s…now that is a good hot dog. Simple. I inhaled my food.

 

Chicago Paulie's storefront

The prices aren’t overly cheap or expensive, but just right. Chicago Paulie’s holds a 5-star rating on Yelp with 129 reviews in an era where people will 1-star you just for not having the right kind of ketchup or signage. Most of the customers seem to be natives from Chicago who know their food, and Mr. Paulie himself is a transplant from Chicago.

Chicago Paulie’s is open from Monday to Friday from 11AM-6PM and Saturday from 11AM-2PM. Closed Sundays. I have heard they do sometimes close so you may want to call ahead if possible.  I highly recommend Chicago Paulie’s. It is the best hot dog I have enjoyed in Tampa.

Restaurant Name: Chicago Paulie’s

Cuisine: American

Neighborhood: North Hyde Park

Address: 1301 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33607

Cost: $

Phone Number: (813) 494-4275

Website: http://www.chicagopaulies.com/

GUIDE: Where to celebrate Easter 2019 in Tampa Bay

Looking for something to do for Easter Sunday 2019 in Tampa Bay? Numerous hotels, restaurants, and bars are having events with buffets. Most have options for kids as well.

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Here are some options:

  • Shepard’s OCEAN FLAME: This Clearwater Beach spot is serving your favorites from 10AM-9PM and offering brunch items until 2:30pm. Reservations are strongly encouraged. 619 S. Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach 33767. (727) 442-5107. http://bit.ly/shepoceanflame
  • Bizou Brasserie: Bizou’s Easter brunch buffet in Downtown Tampa will be served from 10AM to 3PM. Buffet prices are inclusive of all non-alcoholic beverages. Bloody Marys and Mimosas will be offered for $6 each (after 11AM) during brunch. Buffet is $45+ for adults and kids over age 12, $22+ for ages 5-12 years old, and FREE for kids ages 4 and under. Reservations are highly recommended, as preferred dining times fill up quickly. 601 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 227-9555. https://www.opentable.com/bizou-brasserie.
  • GameTime: Head over to Ybor City for Easter brunch with Sonic the Hedgehog, everyone’s favorite mascot. Take a picture and enjoy a delicious buffet on Easter Sunday, April 21st from 10AM to 3PM. Enjoy food and entertainment for all ages. Only $16.99 per adult, and $9.99 per child under 12 years old. 1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 241-9675.
  • Rusty Pelican: Enjoy a waterfront Easter Sunday Champagne Buffet from 9:30AM to 4PM. Tickets are $75 for adults and $35 for children ages 5 to 12. On the menu: Applewood Smoked Prime Rib, Pesto Crusted Leg of Lamb, Honey Glazed Salmon, Crab Legs, Raw Bar, Decadent Desserts, Bottomless Mimosas, Bloody Mary Bar, Photo Booth, and more. 2425 N. Rocky Point Dr., Tampa, FL 33607. (813) 281-1943. http://bit.ly/2UdieSI
  • FarmTable Cucina: Enjoy a special Easter brunch for $89 per person from 11AM to 3PM, which includes bottomless mimosas. On the menu: Seafood Bar, Bowtie Pasta, Potato Salad, Roasted Beet Salad, Caprese, Panzanella, Breakfast Pastries, Breads, Desserts, and more. 179 2nd Ave N., St. Petersburg, FL 33701. (727) 523-6297. http://farmtablecucina.com/reservation/
  • Sirata Beach Resort: Head to the beach for an annual Easter Buffet Brunch. Enjoy fun, food, and festivities for the entire family. $49.95 for adults and $16.95 for kids. and $39.95 for Seniors. Add an unlimited Bloody Mary & Mimosa Bar for just $20. 5300 Gulf Blvd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706. (727) 363-5100. http://bit.ly/SirataEasterBrunch

NEWS: Spaddy’s Coffee Co. owner and restaurant sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement

There has been talk in town for some time in Tampa about a new restaurant coming to Seminole Heights called Florida Avenue Eats. The restaurant is owned by Greg Spadaccini of Spaddy’s Coffee Co., a popular coffee truck in the area. The restaurant was recently sued by Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Ave. Brewing, just 4 days after their grand opening.

Spadaccini has made a GoFundMe to help with legal funds. The statement on the GoFundMe reads:

“My name is Greg Spadaccini and I need your help to raise funds for legal representation. I am the owner and operator of Spaddy’s Coffee Co. in Seminole Heights and in April of 2019 I decided to launch Florida Avenue Eats. It’s a fast casual restaurant serving bowls, wraps, and salads. 4 days after our grand opening, I was served at 6:30am with a summons to appear in civil federal court from Brew Bus Brewing for trademark infringement of their brand Florida Avenue Brewing.  Florida Avenue is a public road, one of Tampa’s longest stretching business roads, and the road we operate business on.

Adding the name “Florida Avenue” to the name of a business is not in any way unique and should not prohibit business owners like myself from operating under that naming convention.

Not only are they taking legal action against my business Florida Avenue Eats, but they have decided sue me personally.

With a newborn at home and incurring the recent expenses of a new restaurant buildout, I simply do not have the funds to personally protect myself and my family legally.

I am asking my community for support to help facilitate funds for legal representation. Anything counts, I will be forever grateful for your support.

Best wishes,
Greg “Spaddy” Spadaccini”

GoFundMe link: http://www.gofundme.com/f/legal-aid-for-spaddy

Some comments for local businesses:

The owner of Brew Bus Brewing and Florida Ave. Brewing has released a statement:

What I’m Reading in Food Media – April 16th

Looking for some great food articles to read online? Here are some articles I am currently enjoying:

NEWS: Shake Shack now open at UTC Sarasota

Gourmet burger giant Shake Shack opens today at The Mall at University Town Center (UTC) Sarasota. The burger franchise hopes to have 200 locations by 2020.

Shake Shack is serving the Pie Oh My Concrete, which has vanilla custard mixed with a slice of Four & Twenty Blackbirds seasonal pie. 5% of the sales of this item will support Sunshine Community Compost.

Their goal is “to strengthen community connections and give back to the planet through accessible education and action programs that increase local composting, resource recovery and zero waste efforts”.

Other specialties offered include:

  • Shack Attack: Chocolate custard, fudge sauce, chocolate truffle cookie dough, Mast Brothers chocolate chunks and chocolate sprinkles
  • Caramel Cone: Vanilla custard, salted caramel, sugar cone pieces and chocolate sprinkles

Local Florida craft beer will be for-sale at the location including Crooked Can Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing, and Orange Blossom Brewing Co. Shake Shack’s own exclusive Brooklyn Brewing ShackMeister® Ale.

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All is right in Sarasota

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The #SarasotaSquad shook things up today and got an exclusive sneak peek at the brand new @shakeshack at @universitytowncenter! We were really impressed with the quality of both the food and the service. The crinkle cut #fries were crispy and light, the chicken bites were fantastic and the burgers came in a few steps ahead of the classic fast food sandwich. Don’t step foot in here if you’re looking for fresh eats, this is where you eat on cheat day. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ #SquadGoals. Thank you to @letseatsrq for inviting us! . . . . . . . . . #sarasota #sarasotafoodie #sarasotaeats #sarasotaeatsout #sarasotafood #sarasotarestaurants #srqfood #srqfoodie #srqlife #sarasotafoodblogger #sarasotafood #manateecounty #lakewoodranch #bradenton #shakeshack #smokeshack #srqlife

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The Herald-Tribune reported live from the opening today.

Now hopefully Shake Shack will set the stage and come to Tampa soon, hungry fans are still waiting for the franchise to enter the market. The Tampa Bay Times reported that the lease in Sarasota is for 10 years.

Shake Shack was founded in 2001 as a hot dog cart that has grown into a massive burger business. The company entered the New York Stock Exchange in 2014 and prides itself on “100% all-natural Angus beef, vegetarian fed, humanely raised and source verified. No hormones or antibiotics – EVER”.

Address: 190 N Cattlemen Road, Unit 1 Sarasota, FL 34243

Phone Number: (941) 413-1351

Hours: 11AM to 10PM, Sunday – Thursday, 11AM to 11PM, Friday & Saturday

Website: http://www.shakeshack.com/location/sarasota-fl/

NEWS: Big Ray’s Fish Camp in Tampa fundraises for Notre Dame repair on Good Friday

If you were on social media on Monday, you certainly saw the non-stop coverage of the Notre-Dame in Paris that caught on fire. Social media users watched helplessly as the historic building burned. The interior was intact after the fire and the country plans to rebuild.

A restaurant in Tampa wants to help raise funds for the rebuilding of the cathedral.

Big Ray’s Fish Camp in South Tampa plans to have a fundraiser on Good Friday, April 19th, to help donate some money back to the rebuilding of the Notre Dame.

Big Ray’s Fish Camp is located at 6116 Interbay Blvd
Tampa, Florida 33611. You can contact Big Ray’s Fish Camp at (813) 605-3615.

Gordon Ramsay – Lucky Cat Public Relations Human Disaster

Gordon Ramsay and a London Eater writer engaged in a battle this past week about her review of his new concept Lucky Cat. The Eater food writer, Angela Hui, called the concept “an actual kitchen nightmare”. She posted live from the media event on Instagram Stories and Gordon Ramsay proceeded to “call her out” afterwards for supposedly attacking his chef and his wife (choosing to twist her words), turning his entire 7 million+ strong base on social media into attack dogs that went after the writer. She was also confronted at the event by servers who were watching her posts.

The quality of the followers he has can best be shown in this comment I received after commenting on his post:

There’s so many issues here. First of all, as a celebrity chef award-winner it is irresponsible to use your platform to attack writers and journalists. When we look deeper this is also an attack on a person of color in an industry where people of color are far and few between and regularly cast aside.

Angela Hui is actually Asian and from a purely public relations point-of-view, Gordon Ramsay attacking the only Asian guest who was at his restaurant preview because she didn’t like his food and was understandably upset about being marginalized as the only Asian guest in a room is tone-deaf on his part.

Gordon Ramsay is rich and successful. He has numerous television shows and a career that isn’t going anywhere. There was no reason for Gordon to take a dig at a young writer. If anything, Gordon’s approach to this situation actually comes off as trying to silence critics and tell people of color that he really doesn’t care what they think and that he is going to take their culture’s food and not even consider what they think in the name of profits.

Gordon Ramsay has plenty of resources. He could empower Asian chefs, invite more Asian members of the media to his previews, seek feedback from the Asian community, there were plenty of way that Gordon Ramsay could have handled this media preview that he chose not to do. Instead – Gordon Ramsay created a worldwide meltdown and fiasco that showed no lack of real concern for the very people whose cuisine his restaurant seeks to sell.

I am convinced that Gordon Ramsay does not have a PR person and if he does, they probably also had a meltdown this past weekend. I know I would be.

Angela’s experience was more than a review, there was a way that Gordon Ramsay made her feel at his event that is unwelcome. Media guests should never be made to feel unwelcome. It is up to the host to make an environment that is inviting for guests and balances and takes in considerations. It is not that hard if you simply care a little bit about others.

Gordon Ramsay has television shows where he literally fixes restaurants like this. It is not hard Gordon. It is not a journalist’s job to give you positive feedback and when someone gives negative feedback, it is not your job as a restaurateur to fight back and enter a fiasco with the writer. Your job is to seek to understand where they are coming from and move on.

Clearly Gordon does not get it. No one is saying that you cannot make an Asian restaurant without being Asian, what they are saying is that you should be respectful of the culture of others and run your business better with consideration of the culture you are making a profit off of. You have enough money to hire someone to help you with this and do it right.

NEWS: Mini Doughnut Factory flagship South Tampa location now permanently CLOSED

The Tampa Bay Business Journal broke news last night that Mini Doughnut Factory’s flagship store in South Tampa is now permanently closed. It appears that the legal and financial woes were too much for the franchise to handle.

Just a few years ago Mini Doughnut Factory was one of the fastest rising businesses in Tampa with a fever pitch of business and support throughout the city. Mini Doughnut Factory won best donuts in town for multiple years in a row and was a local favorite of most locals. Major plans for expansion and to become a chain failed to materialize after an ill-fated opening in St. Petersburg.

The chain had a huge social media following and not a day would pass without seeing some mini donuts on Snapchat and Instagram in the last few years. John Mayer even stopped by a for a bite one day. Lines of little girls and mothers would be visible from early in the morning at the South Tampa store.

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NEWS: Mole y Abuela offers 50% off bar tabs during Tampa Bay Lightning 2019 playoff games

Looking for somewhere to drink during the NHL Stanley Cup 2019 playoff games? Tampa Bay Lightning fans can head over to Mole y Abuela in Downtown Tampa and enjoy 50% off all tabs at the bar and rooftop bar during all Lightning playoff games. Their rooftop projector will be showing all the games throughout the playoffs.

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Mole y Abuela opened in the old Fly Bar space on Franklin Street recently. The offer cocktails, wine, beer, Spanish tapas, and some great Spanish wines. It is run by celebrity Chef Fabio Viviani and open from 5PM to midnight from Monday to Thursday and 5PM to 3AM on Friday and Saturday.

Chef Fabio grew up in Florence, Italy and moved to California in 2005 where he opened his first USA-based restaurant called Café Firenze. He has been featured on Good Morning America, The Rachael Ray Show, The Chew, Cutthroat Kitchen: All-Star Tournament, and plenty of other Food Network shows. He has a YouTube channel called Fabio’s Kitchen that he released in February 2017.

Mole y Abuela is owned by Nocturnal Hospitality Group which also owns Osteria Tampa and Franklin Manor.

Restaurant Name: Mole y Abuela

Cuisine: Spanish

Neighborhood: Downtown Tampa

Address: 1202 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602

Phone Number: (813) 370-1000

Website: https://moleyabuelatampa.com/