Inaugural Whiskey Tampa Foxtrot on October 14th

Bern’s Steak House and Epicurean Hotel are having their inaugural Whiskey Tampa Foxtrot on Saturday, October 14th, 2017 at the Epicurean Hotel located at 1207 South Howard Avenue.

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The event will feature over 200 handcrafted whiskeys and artisan foods from local restaurant to complement the tasting. Educational seminars will also be held by industry experts. The event is for ages 21+.

Whiskey List: http://whiskeytampafoxtrot.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/WHICKEY-LIST3.pdf

Restaurant partners include: Bern’s Steak House, Haven Tampa, Elevage, Locale Market, Parkshore Grill, and Rooster and The Till.

Tickets are now on-sale. VIP Admission is $150, General Admission (GA) is $95 and seminars cost $20. VIP includes early admission and exclusive bottle tastings and a special Markers Mark VIP Lounge.

Buy GA: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whiskey-tampa-foxtrot-general-admission-tickets-37734171924

Buy VIP: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/whiskey-tampa-foxtrot-vip-tickets-37734384560

Buy Seminar Tickets: http://whiskeytampafoxtrot.com/#Seminars

Proceeds will benefit Operation First Response. The mission of Operation First Response is to serve all branches of our nation’s Wounded Heroes/Disabled Veterans and their families with personal and financial needs.

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8th Annual Oktoberfest Tampa coming October 13-15

The 8th Annual Oktoberfest Tampa will take place from Friday, October 13th, 2017 to Sunday, October 15th, 2017 at Curtis Hixon Park in Downtown Tampa. The event is sponsored by Goose Island and Tampa Bay Audi Dealers.

Get tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-oktoberfest-tampa-2017-ga-tickets-36273577246

Oktoberfest games will be FREE to play at the event and there will be German food, live alphorn performances, oompah music, Schuplattler dancers, and a German DJ – DJ Jay Kay. There will be a beard and mustache showdown as well.

Beer will cost $5 for a half-liter (16 oz.) and $10 for a liter (32 oz.) at the festival. You must have a commemorative Stein in order to purchase the liter size. Wine will cost $7 a glass.

Beer list:

  • Goose Island Oktoberfest
  • Blue Point Brewery Oktoberfest
  • Victory Brewing Company Festbier
  • Beck’s Brewery Pilsner
  • Oktoberfest Tampa Dunkel by Coppertail Brewing
  • Coppertail Brewing Co – Wheat Stroke
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Company – Craft Firkins (daily)
  • O’Douls Non-Alcoholic Cans

Wine list:

  • Riesling (Chateau St. Michelle)
  • Gewürztraminer (Chateau St. Michelle)
  • Merlot (Clos du Bois)

Tickets are on-sale and cost $10 for GA for guests ages 21 years or older at the door. Weekend GA passes are available for $25.

VIP tickets are available and come with several perks including complimentary drink refills, a commemorative Oktoberfest stein, table side food service, air-conditioned restrooms, VIP shade tent with a private bar, and more.

Buy tickets: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/8th-annual-oktoberfest-tampa-2017-ga-tickets-36273577246

The event is family-friendly and children ages 12 and under are FREE with a parent or guardian. There will be a Kids Zone with kid-friendly games during the event.

FREE ENTRY for any Military members (active or retired) and Tampa First Responders (TPD, TFD, EMS) and their significant other – simply show proper ID at the front gate.

Cash or Credit Cards (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) will be accepted on-site with ATMs available as well.

HIRING: Seminole Hard Rock seeks over 50 new team members for new fine dining restaurant

Seminole Hard Rock & Casino Tampa located at 5223 Orient Road will be opening a new fine dining restaurant later this year with a projected opening date of December 2017 and is now searching for applicants for over 50 new positions.

Available positions include Managers, Servers, Bartenders, Barbacks, Bussers, Food Runners, Cooks, Hosts, and Hostesses. Training for positions would begin in early November.

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, have “exceptional guest service and communication skills”, and “at least one year of guest service experience”.

Interested applicants can inquire at http://www.gotoworkhappy.com.

Franklin Manor celebrates first anniversary this week

Franklin Manor will celebrate its first anniversary this week with a number of events starting on Wednesday, September 20th through Sunday, September 24th.

During the last year, Franklin Manor has been a major hotspot for people heading to Downtown Tampa to party and to brunch. The area around it is set to grow quite rapidly with a new condominium finishing work in the near future and a number of other projects in development.

#frosé all day 🍾

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Here is what Franklin Manor has planned for the week:

  • Wednesday, September 204pm to 1am – Hospitality Night Launch w/ Special Guest Jonas Blue: Franklin Manor kicks-off its one-year anniversary week and new Hospitality Night with special guest, British DJ Jonas Blue.  The night will also debut a special $8.00 hospitality food menu, and 50% discounts on select drinks for all guests who work in the hospitality industry. Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Thursday, September 214pm to 1am – Throwback Thursday Night: Franklin Manor’s weekly Throwback Thursday night will feature complimentary Stoli vodka cocktails and Corona beers, as well as complimentary sliders for all guests from 8pm to 9pm.  DJ Jaime Ferreira will spin the iconic hits and classics from the ‘80s, ‘90s and 2000s.  Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Friday, September 224pm to 3am – Special Guest DJ Irie: Popular Miami music artist and icon DJ Irie returns for a special DJ set.  Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Saturday, September 234pm to 3am – Special Guest DJ Jason Smith: The “celebrities’ choice DJ” Jason Smith will headline the patio stage.  Happy Hour specials from 4pm to 8pm.
  • Sunday, September 2411am to 6pm – Happy Bday Frose’ Day: A birthday party commemorating Tampa’s original Frose’, a delicious frozen rose’ wine cocktail will coincide with Franklin Manor’s weekly brunch.  Guests who wear the color pink will be treated to complimentary Frose’ samples and dessert.  DJ Jaime Ferreira and Goofy White Kid with 93.3 FLZ will provide the sounds for the celebration.

For more information, contact Franklin Manor at (813) 487-9990 or stop by at 912 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602.

Guide: Top 8 Local Coffee Shops in Tampa

This list has been overdue. Tampa has a blossoming coffee scene, you would be hard pressed to find a local coffee shop 5-10 years ago. Recently local coffee shops have been showing up all over town. Here are my current top 8 coffee shops in Tampa.

The factors used to rate the cafes are quality of coffee, affordability, consistency, atmosphere, and customer service. This is a personal list and your list may differ from my own and that’s alright.

Here we go:

#1 – The Lab Tampa – Coffee Shop

Dialing in the good stuff on this fine morning! ☀️☕️

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Most baristas around town I’ve talked to and local business people mention The Lab. Local coffee has a community that has built around Zeal Coffee Roasters and The Lab was started as a partnership between Blind Tiger Coffee and Zeal Coffee Roasters. It’s obvious that these two ambitious local businesses joining forces would create a great product.

I only recently visited The Lab for the first time, but the coffee, conversations, and customer service has been top notch. The interior is being renovated and worked on, but to be honest – the coffee I have had here makes up for anything in the atmosphere. The friendliness of all the people who stop in also is something to appreciate.

Of all the coffee shops I have visited and constantly visit, The Lab has impressed me the most. It may not have a beautiful courtyard or baristas with bowties, but it captures the essence of what makes a good coffee shop and that makes it the best in my book.

1703 W State St.,Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 451-6662. http://www.zealcoffeeroasters.com/location/

#2 – Buddy Brew Coffee – Hyde Park Village

A study in #composition. Our last stop in #tampa. #coldbrew #breakfast #buddybrew #hydepark

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If we’re talking atmosphere – Buddy Brew Coffee in Hyde Park Village is a beautiful shop that I love to visit. Hopefully one day the rest of the construction in Hyde Park Village will subside and match this shop. The baristas at BBC are friendly, but not quite as friendly as some other shops. The coffee I ordered on various visits has been enjoyable.

The selection is also a little limited – but to me the atmosphere here makes up for that. Plus there is plenty of parking with the Hyde Park Village garages nearby which can be an issue at numerous shops around town. Buddy Brew has numerous locations around Tampa, but this one is my favorite.

1605 W Snow Ave, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 575-2739. http://www.buddybrew.com/locations/hydepark/

#3 – Caffeine – Kennedy

most of my daydreams involve coffee ✨

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I enjoyed the Caffeine location in Downtown Tampa in the past, although parking is an issue both in Downtown and also at their new shop on Kennedy. I love the atmosphere inside the new Caffeine on Kennedy. The coffee here is good though not the best in town, but I do enjoy stopping by for a cup and the shop is incredibly accommodating to people who work on laptops.

The baristas are also super friendly and the poached egg and avocado toast is excellent. Nothing wrong with a coffee shop that actually has a great food selection.

2420 W Kennedy Blvd, Tampa, FL 33609. (813) 644-7245. http://www.caffeineusa.com/

#4 Spaddy’s Coffee Co. – Seminole Heights

I met Greg Spaddy last year at the Seminole Heights Japan Fest. The man has always been a friendly neighborhood guy that anyone can converse with. When he opened shop in Seminole Heights this year in the courtyard next to Red Star Rock Bar, lines of customers were ready for him.

The coffee and tea selection has always been excellent at Spaddy’s and prices are fair. Coffee is sourced from Zeal Coffee Roasters. One of the best things at Spaddy’s Coffee Co. is watching the locals stop by and chat about what is happening in the Seminole Heights neighborhood. That’s what community is all about and Spaddy is a community player.

The only downside to Spaddy’s is that this location is outdoors and prone to the hot Florida weather and rain. Little by little, changes have been made to address this by adding shade and power outdoors. Don’t miss the First Friday events at the truck that bring in other local food trucks and live music to the neighborhood.

5206 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33603. (954) 829-2111. http://www.spaddyscoffee.com/

#5 Ginger Beard Coffee

Ginger Beard Coffee is known as one of the first shops to sell nitro brew coffee in Tampa. Their audience is niche and mainly drawn from locals in Channelside, but I’ve always enjoyed my experiences at their shop at Grand Central on Kennedy.

The shop regularly partners with other local players such as Bake’n Babes and TeBella and keeps releasing fresh ideas. Plus I love the red ginger beards the owners have. I’d recommend giving Ginger Beard a look – it won’t be for everyone, but I love it personally.

1208 E Kennedy Blvd #112, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 434-0795. http://www.gingerbeardcoffee.com/

#6 Foundation Coffee – Tampa Heights

Foundation Coffee was one of the early players in Tampa Heights which is now starting to boom. Originally from Riverview, Foundation is often not afraid to take risks and enter untested markets which is commendable.

The coffee at Foundation can be best described as good, but not the best I’ve had. The baristas are friendly, but not in a memorable way.

The atmosphere at Foundation in Tampa Heights cannot be beat. The outside courtyard is truly relaxing and makes you wonder why more people do not utilize the outdoors in this fashion.

Also – personally the Wi-Fi at Foundation is terrible and disconnects frequently making it a difficult shop to get any work done at. On the plus side there are plenty of plugs to charge your devices.

1607 N Franklin St, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 358-5781. http://www.foundationcoffeeco.com/

#7 Tre Amici at The Bunker – Ybor City

This shop has been in Ybor City for over 10 years and is a beautiful bungalow. There is a wide variety of options for coffee sourced from Buddy Brew and also tea and excellent Cuban toast that is representative of Ybor City.

The baristas I have encountered at Tre Amici have been friendly. Paid parking is available nearby, but actual parking spots can be a little scarce near the shop. The shop is constantly packed with customers and locals.

There are a ton of tables and plugs lying around for people who need to get work done or have a meeting.

1907 N 19th St, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 247-6964. http://www.bunkerybor.com/

#8 The Attic Cafe – Downtown Tampa

proven to be the most productive when chugging coffee on a rooftop #science

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Coffee shops are a mix of coffee and your experience there. The Attic relies heavily on experience and is more of a mix shop serving a variety of things. The thing not to miss here is the view.

The Attic has a beautiful skyline view of Downtown Tampa that you will not find anywhere else. Visit during sunset and it may be one of the best city views in Tampa.

The coffee is satisfactory – not the best I have had. The staff is much more like what you would find at a local sandwich shop, the baristas do not seem to have the same kind of passion for coffee you’ll find at other shops around town. Still – the view at The Attic cannot be beat.

There are also plenty of plugs and excellent Wi-Fi at The Attic. Parking can be a pit of a pain due to the meters in Downtown.

500 E Kennedy Blvd #400, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 226-1003. http://www.atticcafe.net/


What are your favorite coffee shops? Let me know in the comments.

Hurricane Irma: AJ’s Press GoFundMe for Employees

During Hurricane Irma, local Tampa sandwich shop AJ’s Press was damaged by the storm.

The damage will take at least 2 weeks to fix which will impact the employees who work there. In response, AJ’s Press has setup a GoFundMe for their employees and to help cover damages that will not be covered from the storm.

Donate here: http://www.gofundme.com/ajs-press-pay-for-team-2-wks-close

Nightmare: Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport Conv. Ctr. Hotel

During Hurricane Irma my family and I voluntarily evacuated from Florida when we saw that Irma could arrive as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane in our hometown and be devastating. We decided to head to South Carolina, thinking it would be far away enough from the storm since Irma was turning northwest and was about 800 miles from our home.

Searching online we found Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport Convention Center hotel. Holding a 4.5 rating online on major websites – we decided why not and booked a stay at $135 a night for 3 days. The hotel was inland from Charleston – far enough not to seriously flood from any serious storm surges.

We experienced a nightmare stay there.

Everything started off alright when we arrived. Our first hiccup was when we sat at the bar after arriving and the bartender there was clearly ready to go home and waiting for someone to cover his shift.

He was irritable and unfriendly. He claimed his home was in a flood zone and he wanted to get some things done there. I definitely understand that, but why is that the customers problem? Some other customers showed up at the hotel and he was completely friendly to them, which was surprising.

The next day was a mostly normal day until we came home to our hotel room and found a ROACH inside our room.


Clearly the room had been sprayed with some kind of poison for bugs because the roach was upside down, but it was still moving and it moved when we entered the room.

I have NEVER seen a roach in a hotel room before. It was disgusting. I reached out to the hotel’s management and they told me something would be done the next day within 24 hours, but we never heard from the manager and nothing was done.

The next day at the hotel we found notices put up that the service staff was going to be limited because of Hurricane Irma’s outer bands. Some staff had left to flee the tropical storm winds and rain because they live in flood zones. Fair enough –  some prior notice would have been nice though.

There was no room service during our entire stay at the hotel even when the staff was actually there.

Due to the storm, changes were made to the restaurant. The hotel said they would offer buffet service at prices ranging from $10-$18 per person to make up for the staff shortages.


Then we lost power.

This was when we found out the hotel had no real generator. Only the lobby and hotel room keycards were on the generator. There was no Wi-Fi and no electricity to any of the rooms.

Most of the restaurants closed around us because of the storm and because of the electricity. People in South Carolina seemed spooked by Irma’s tropical storm winds and rain because they were hit by Hurricane Matthew.

However, in reality only flood zones were impacted and the winds were not beyond 25mph with some occasional gusts.

The bartender assured us not to worry because they would have sandwiches for the guests now that the restaurant had no power. Then we found out they wanted to charge $10 per person to make a sandwich with 2 sides and you had to make it yourself.


To circle back: the hotel had no electricity, no Wi-Fi, no room service, no restaurant service, and STILL wanted to charge guests for cold cuts and bread $10 per person?! It’s price gouging in my book and I made sure to alert the Attorney General of how a hotel treats people during a storm.

We literally had to shower and pee in the dark.

Most of the guests at the Crowne Plaza were from Florida, all seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma. It would been a kind gesture to maybe give guests a discount or some kind of food to get through the storm, but the hotel did not do that.

As soon as the hotel electricity received power over 9 hours after the power failed, my family and I prepared to shower, pack our bags, and get out of there as quickly as possible.

When we were checking out from the hotel, they didn’t give us a receipt and apparently they had no printer. We paid almost $500 and were frankly treated like trash.

Hotels are about hospitality. The hospitality industry is all about making experiences. No doubt the hotel was short staffed because of the storm, but they could have been more hospitable to their guests. They treated people with contempt and tried to profit off people’s misery.

What happened to Southern Hospitality?

I will never stay at a Crowne Plaza hotel ever again and I don’t suggest that you do either.

Hurricane Irma Autopsy

Hopefully you survived Hurricane Irma and are here to read this. Last week was absolutely one of the craziest weeks I have ever lived through.

The week started with a general state of panic around Tampa Bay and Florida as people flooded to stores and gasoline stations to prepare for Hurricane Irma. GasBuddy helped people find the scarce gas stations with fuel available. Lines for sand bags were at least 2 hours or longer.

The panic for water was also quite crazy as well because most people in Tampa Bay had drinking water available to them via tap for most of the week. The irony of people buying Aquafina which is bottled tap water and desperately searching it just shows how afraid we were.

The fear wasn’t unfounded, Tampa Bay has not been tested in a major hurricane (that’s a Category 3 or higher) in nearly a century and by a miracle we were able to escape Irma’s wrath and Naples and the Florida Keys were instead destroyed.

Plywood was completely scarce and despite lots of searching my family was never able to find any. Some people put up their fencing and cardboard around their windows in a desperate attempt to protect their homes. People started taping their windows which experts say is useless and a common misconception about hurricane survival.

Personally, I’ve never bothered to buy D batteries in the past, but they were absolutely nowhere to found last week. Portable battery chargers? All gone. Radios? None.

You would think that the local and state government would have a supply of these things people need to survive a storm and also put limits on how much of it people can buy in a crisis, but that DID NOT happen during Hurricane Irma.

Also – how does a place with tons of construction companies everywhere not have any plywood? Maybe the construction companies should have opened their supply to the people who live here.

7-11 started shipping free water to Florida after the Florida Attorney General shamed them on television for price gouging at over 20 locations. The Florida AG reported “receiving over 100 calls per-hour” about price gouging regarding 7-11 and other stores.

Airlines tried to take advantage of the situation by making airfare prices go into the thousands. By the time something was done about it, the storm was getting ready to nearly destroy the state.

If people have to evacuate, the government should provide more ways for them to get out. Why was there only one bus company providing ways out of the state in Tampa?

Not everyone can afford an airplane that is $300+ round trip or a $200+ train (that’s how much they were to get to Atlanta which was also hit by Irma).

There are solutions to all the problems that people had preparing for Irma and some of them rest in our government and companies as well as with people preparing far enough in advance.

If Hurricane Irma had hit Tampa as a Category 4 as was reported on Saturday, mass devastation would have impacted the people who were unable to find any supplies.

What can we learn from Hurricane Irma? 

  1. Be Prepared: The massive panic leading to the arrival of Hurricane Irma seemed to be partially coming from the fact that people were completely unprepared. Every year the local and state government warns people to prepare for hurricane season and they brush it off. Tampa was lucky this time, but it’s a mistake to think that a major hurricane can never hit Tampa, one almost did this weekend.
  2. Make a plan for your family: My family had no plan for the storm. Make sure your family does. Who is going to stay where? Can you come together to help lower the heavy cost of preparing for a storm or come up with an escape plan if the storm is too massive to sit through. Don’t be afraid to ask your neighbors for help if you have no family around.
  3. Be Patient: Before and after Hurricane Irma, there was plenty of impatience on full display. People trying to cut lines in stores and at sand bag stations (turned around by police). Yelling and screaming isn’t going to help in a crisis, think clearly and try to find a solution.
  4. Share: The panic led to people hoarding gas, food, plywood, and water. Now those same people are at the stores trying to return all the things they bought. First of all, hurricane season does not end until November so you might want to hang onto that. I witnessed a man at Sam’s Club put 20 loaves of bread into a shopping cart when there was hardly any to begin with. It’s understandable that you may have a large family, but other people also need supplies to survive with. Stores only started rationing supplies when almost everything was gone.

Hopefully we never live through this again. The reality is that we live in Florida though and will always have the potential of tropical devastation from a hurricane and need to be more prepared as a community.

Hurricane Irma: Find Fuel with GasBuddy app

Gasoline is currently very difficult to find around Tampa Bay and Florida with numerous stations on low-supply during Hurricane Irma. This also happened in Texas last week during Hurricane Harvey.

Tampa lacks a robust public transportation system and fuel shortages are a serious issue here where people cannot get around at all without cars and depend on gas to get to work and around town. The state is attempting to address the problem with trucks plowing in gas.

The FREE app GasBuddy has a feature that will help you locate stations with available fuel. The app is available for both iPhones and Androids. Users at stations can help update the app and let people know where there is fuel and where they have ran out.

The locator is also available via regular and mobile web browsers at: http://tracker.gasbuddy.com/MobileDefault.aspx

The more people who use the app, the better the system will work.

Download the app: http://www.gasbuddy.com/App

Hurricane Irma Safety Guide: Be Prepared

Hurricane Irma is racing towards Florida and you should make sure you’re ready in case the storm enter the waters of Tampa Bay. As of Tuesday, September 5th, the storm is a Category 5 Hurricane with 185 MPH winds.

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Here are some resources to help you prepare for the storm: