Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach’s Ocean Hai Supports Local Charities

The next time you dine at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach‘s Ocean Hai restaurant, sit at table #31 to support Pinellas County local charities.

Bamboo + 💚 #werklife #bcvsocial #foodstyling

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The program “You Dine, We Donate” will select a new local charity every month to feature and donates all net proceeds from food and non-alcoholic beverage purchases at the assigned table to a cause. Here is the upcoming list:

  • April: Autism Awareness Month – Tampa Bay Chapter
  • May: Troop Rewards
  • June: Pinellas County Lifeguards
  • July: Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • August: Pinellas County Schools
  • September: Eckerd Kids
  • October: Hooked on Hope
  • November: Clearwater for Youth
  • December: Arts for Life

Not a bad view for lunch!

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Ocean Hai is the signature restaurant at Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach serving Asian-fusion cuisine with inspirations from Asian countries such as Japan, Thailand, and China.

Chef de Cuisine John Capponi previously worked at Tampa’s On Swann in Hyde Park Village as Executive Chef and as Executive Sous Chef at Skytop Lounge in Pennsylvania.

The Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach is located at 100 Coronado Drive and is ocean-front. Clearwater Beach was recently named #4 on the 2017 “Top 10 Traveler’s Choice Beaches in the United States” by TripAdvisor.

Visit Ocean Hai online to book a reservation at http://www.wyndhamgrandclearwater.com/dining/ocean-hai

Cut restaurant wait time down with TorchFi interface

Tired of downloading apps for businesses you frequent to your smartphone? I cannot count how many different apps I have downloaded to my phone for businesses that I never open.

Local start-up company, TorchFi, aims to end the push for restaurants to make their own app and gives restaurants the ability to connect with their customer via a Wi-Fi connection.

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Customers can access restaurant menus through the TorchFi connection and order their food and pay online – avoiding getting caught in line during busy lunch or dinner rush times. They can simply walk into a restaurant and sit at a table and order their food when they connect to the available Wi-Fi. The wireless interface can also help customers call a waiter to help them.

On the business side, the restaurant will receive data about overall customer buying habits/trends and make life easier for their customers – repeat customers can easily order their regular orders with a smart interface that remembers past orders by a customer. All without forcing a customer to download their individual app.

TorchFi is currently targeting fast-casual businesses with busy lunch and dinner rushes. Tampa is a perfect target with plenty of concepts having their beginning here or expanding in the area including Burger 21, PDQ, 4Rivers Smokehouse, Mission BBQ…to name a few.

TorchFi is starting locally with The Attic and Moxie’s Cafe. Downtown Tampa, South Tampa, Brandon, and Carrollwood all have busy lunch rush crowds that could be alleviated using this interface. The interface can also be used for malls and food courts, retail brands, salons, and spas.

For more information, visit TorchFi online at http://www.torchfi.com/

CL Meet the Brewers Beer Festival – 2/23

Local newspaper Creative Loafing will celebrate the opening of Tampa Bay Beer Week with an intimate craft beer festival called Meet the Brewers on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017. 20 of Tampa Bay’s brewers will be on-site serving craft beer samples from 7PM to 10PM.

The event will be held at Morean Arts Center for Clay at 420 22nd Street South St. Petersburg.

Guests will be able to mingle with the brewers and enjoy 40+ brewery samples.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Current Initiatives. Current is committed to educating others on current social initiatives and mobilizing them to bring about change.

Participating breweries:

Tickets start at $35 and are on-sale now.VIP comes with an hour of early entry and VIP food offerings from The Mill.

Get tickets: http://www.cltampa.xorbia.com/brewers

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The event is sponsored by HofbräuhausFlorida Brewers GuildWhole Foods Market, Ducky’s Sports LoungeFlorida Print SolutionsRoundhouse Creative, & Lyft!

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/927629810672458/

Gaspar’s Grotto in Ybor City now serving weekday breakfast

Local Ybor City pirate-themed restaurant, Gaspar’s Grotto, is now selling breakfast daily with an expanded menu on Saturday and brunch buffet on Sundays.

The weekday breakfast menu is available from 7AM-10:30AM and has items ranging from $4.95 to $8.95 with most items at around $5.95. Items on the menu include 3 Egg Cheese Omelet, Two Eggs Your Way, Cuban French Toast, Breakfast Skillet, Biscuits and Gravy, and more.

I visited yesterday and had a late breakfast with Ybor City Geeky Gal and Chef Mark Hook.

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One of the first dishes I tried was the biscuits and gravy. Everything is prepared fresh in-house and it really shows. The biscuits were soft and delicious and the gravy was incredible – definitely one of the best gravy toppings I have ever had in Tampa Bay. Even the side of potatoes was delicious – normally something that isn’t even worth mentioning on breakfast dishes.

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The bacon was notable for having a peppery flavoring to it and was perfectly crunchy. Many of the breakfast items come with bacon, but if you want more you can get 2 strips for $2.

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You can also take a more traditional route with simple eggs made you way with sides and Cuban toast from La Segunda Bakery. The great thing about Ybor City being the heart of historical Tampa is great Cuban bread is always nearby.

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I also checked out their Gaspar’s Specialty Bloody Mary of the Day at Gaspar’s Grotto – it’s loaded with all kinds of toppings including cheese, meats, sausage, ribs, and more. It could very well be a meal on its own.

All of the breakfast items were delicious and fresh and the price was right – easily beating out many breakfast chains and competing with the pricing of diners. The best part is you can enjoy your breakfast outside on the outside decks of Gaspar’s Grotto and there is plenty of free 2-hour parking available in the morning hours in Ybor City.

Breakfast is also available for take-out – you can call ahead to 813-248-5900 and pick-up your breakfast to take to work or whatever engagement you may have.

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Finally, I couldn’t leave without trying the Cuban Sandwich at Gaspar’s Grotto with the 6th Annual National Cuban Sandwich Festival approaching. The Cuban here was excellent – the bread toasted perfectly and the pickle having just the right crunch. The Cuban sticks to traditional with the exception of a mayo-mustard mix. Plantain chips on the side were also excellent. I love plantain chips and these did not disappoint.

Gaspar's Grotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Gaspar’s Grotto. 1805 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 248-5900. http://gasparsgrotto.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gasparsgrotto/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/gasparsgrotto/

Valentine’s Day 2017 @ Vuelo Mexican Grill

Looking for an affordable and tasty Mexican meal for this V-Day? Celebrate Valentine’s Day 2017 at Vuelo Mexican Grill located at 17641 Bruce B. Downs Boulevard. The restaurant will offer 3 courses for 2 people for $20.

Here is the menu:

Appetizer (shared)
Select from Queso Fundido or Nachos Vuelo

2 Entrees
Select from Enchiladas, Vuelo Burrito, or Street Tacos

Dessert: Churros (shared)
With spicy chocolate dipping sauce & powdered sugar

For more information – contact Vuelo at (813) 972-4800.

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Vuelo Mexican Grill recently opened in New Tampa off Bruce B. Downs. The restaurant features fresh, gourmet Mexican cuisine with a menu prepared by Chef Mark Estee. Estee is a James Beard Semifinalist and has been featured on The Cooking Channel and The Food Network.

Vuelo regularly hosts a weekly Taco Tuesday and Sunday Brunch in addition to daily specials and a great happy hour.

Orlando Cafe Tour: Doña Juana Coffee Shop

Today I stopped by Doña Juana Coffee Shop on my cafe tour of Orlando with Le’ Anns Cheesecakes ‘N More. The cafe is open Monday-Saturday from 7:30AM-8:00PM and serves a variety of coffee, smoothies, and snacks/food. They recently opened their doors back in December 2016.

Many of the cafes we hit up today in the Winter Park area and beyond were new to the area – it’s really amazing seeing so many cool shops in Orlando – the phenomenon is also happening across I-4 in Tampa.

Dona Juana Coffee Shop

We decided to try some smoothies during our visit – I had the Acai-Mix and the others had Soursop and and Strawberry-Banana.

Acai Mix at Dona Juana

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One cool thing I noticed is that all the smoothies tasted real – plenty of cafes sell smoothies and do not use fruits or have a terrible artificial taste to smoothies – Dona Juana has tasty smoothies and the prices are fair with most smoothies under $4. The sweetness level was also just right.

It would be cool to see them expand the smoothie menu, but for now I have my eye on mango on a future visit.

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The coffee options and decor of the shop definitely were enticing – I would’ve ordered a coffee, but am going to leave that for my next visit in the near future. The staff was friendly and the shop was fairly modern inside with lots of comfortable seating and couches – something you don’t see everyday.

Here is a video from their Facebook:

I’ll be back soon!

Dona Juana Coffee Shop. 6965 Piazza Grande Avenue Orlando, FL 32835. (321) 317-3760

Fuzzy’s Taco Shop Opens January 26th in Temple Terrace

Fast-casual restaurant chain concept Fuzzy’s Taco Shop is expanding into Temple Terrace and opening doors to the public on Thursday, January 26th. The restaurant is 4,100 square ft. The first Tampa Bay restaurant, built in February 2016, is located in Brandon and is located off Causeway Boulevard and Providence Lakes Road.

The University of South Florida location, located off the corner of Fowler Avenue and 56th Street, will feature a large garden-style patio with “truck-bed seating”, large communal style tables, a live music stage for local singers and DJs, and a full-liquor bar with six barrels of signature frozen cocktails and 16 beers on tap.

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Fuzzy’s Taco Shop’s 100-plus locations serve breakfast all day long, offering a robust selection that includes breakfast tacos and jumbo burritos (guests can choose from eggs, bacon, cheese, potatoes, chorizo, and shrimp) as well as the brand’s “breakfast favorites”, including huevos rancheros, migas, chilaquiles, and the breakfast taco plate (all served with Latin-fried potatoes and refried beans), or the signature Big Fuzz Breakfast Sandwich.

Considering how successful all-day-breakfast has worked for fast food restaurants – it’s interesting to see a fast-casual concept also offering this option. Fowler Avenue is filled with a variety of breakfast options from IHOP to First Watch.

Parents note: kids menus will be available serving taco plate, nachos, cheeseburgers, quesadillas, and chicken sticks, with carrots and ranch dressing offered as a side.

The restaurant will be open late – a plus for students. Service at Fuzzy’s Taco Shop will be provided from 8AM to 12AM from Monday to Wednesday, 8AM to 2AM from Thursday to Saturday, and 8AM to 11PM on Sunday. Catering will also be available.

For more information visit: www.FuzzysTacoShop.com