Top 7 Local Pizza Spots in Tampa

Pizza is one of those things that depends on preference. Do you like a cheesy pizza or a saucy pizza? Lots of toppings or just plain cheese? Does pineapple belong on pizza? (the answer is YES) –  I keep things simple normally, but it varies depending on my mood.

Tampa is overrun with corporate pizza chains and plenty of below mediocre strip mall pizza spots, but there are some quality local spots out there as well and they need some love.

Here are my Top 7 Local Pizza Spots in Tampa. Your top choices may vary and that’s okay.

Chicago Style Deep Dish. 👅

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7. Full Circle Pizza Grill: This pizza spot in Wesley Chapel/New Tampa area is not easily accessible to most of Tampa, but trust me the Chicago pie is worth a look if you are in the area. The portion is simply huge so make sure you bring some friends and call ahead to see if they are serving Chicago pizza, because some days it is unavailable. It’s a more affordable option to a Cappy’s Pizza in my opinion. 19651 Bruce B Downs Blvd., Tampa, FL 33647. (813) 994-3700. http://www.fullcirclepizza-grill.com/

6. New York, New York Pizza: Many drunk nights in Ybor City end at New York, New York Pizza. They’ve expanded their reach over the years, but kept the quality pizza there. I would consider their pizza to be up to my standards for a good pizza, tasty cheese and toppings. Most of my visits are reserved for times out in Ybor at night though and nowadays in SoHo as well where they opened another location. 533 S Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 253-3929. http://places.singleplatform.com/new-york-new-york-pizza-11/menu?ref=google

There is a pizza god.

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5. Wood Fired Pizza Wine Bar: This is that gourmet pizza place that you take someone to on a date or that you go to with a really good friend or a group gathering and it does get busy. Wood Fired Pizza is a full-service restaurant and has a nice beer selection as well as a tasty butter beer I have enjoyed in the past. The owner is very passionate about pizza and it shows. The prices are on the higher end and will run you around $15-$20 for a pie, but you get your value for sure.  2822 E. Bearss Ave., Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 341-2900.  http://woodfiredpizzatampa.com/

Chicago Style Deep Dish Cappy on #nationaldeepdishpizzaday #tampa #cappyspizza

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4. Cappy’s Pizza: A bit of a Tampa institution. Cappy’s has branches all over the Tampa Bay area. My personal favorite location is their New Tampa location. I feel like the service there has always been stellar and it is never overcrowded. Plus they take card and I’m pretty sure the Seminole Heights location is cash-only. I don’t carry cash in 2017. Cappy’s has a solid NY-pizza, but it is more popular for it’s deep-dish Chicago pizzas. Come hungry. 16019 Tampa Palms Blvd. W, Tampa, FL 33647. (813) 512-8947. http://www.cappyspizzaonline.com/

3. Fabrica Pizza: This Channelside pizza restaurant is like no other in town. The owners roots are in Italy and they are doing their best to provide a quality and authentic Neapolitan pizza. Everything is delicious. The wine is great and so are the meatballs. It is probably one of the best pizza spots in town if we are talking ambiance and located blocks away from the Tampa Riverwalk. Oh and the nutella pizza? To. Die. For. 142 S. Meridian Ave., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 605-0764. http://www.fabricapizza.com/

I spy pizza pies with my eyes 👀 @sallyspizza @tbbloggers #TampaBayTuesday

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2. Sally O’Neals Pizza Hotline: Many of the restaurants who have survived the many changes on SoHo serve some of the best food in town. Sally O’Neals have been around for over 30 years and this quality pizza is a must for anyone wanting to try the best in town. I first tried their pizza at Taste the Best of Tampa Bay at the Straz Center where a mob of people kept chowing down on their excellent pie. From the first bite, Sally O’Neals changed my opinion about pizza in Tampa.  The quality is there. 1319 S. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 251-0220. http://sallyonealspizza.com

1. Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza: There is no denying the magic of Eddie & Sam’s NY Pizza in Downtown Tampa, which has served the area since 1998. The options are numerous and I have never felt disappointed with an experience there. I like pizza by the slice and Eddie & Sam’s serves excellent slices that will brighten even the worst of days. It is the best pizza available in Tampa in value, quality, and it may not be fancy, but who needs fancy when the pizza is going to blow your taste buds away. I’ll be at a quality, local, dive any day over a fancy restaurant. Go to Eddie & Sam’s if you haven’t. We need more like it.  203 E. Twiggs St., Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 229-8500. http://www.eddieandsamspizza.com/

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CL Slider Showdown this Wednesday, October 18th

Creative Loafing will kick off their annual Tampa Bay Burger Week this Wednesday, October 18th, 2017 with their inaugural Slider Showdown at The Vault in Downtown Tampa from 6PM to 9PM. They will release their annual burger issue at the competition.

General admission tickets cost $25 in advance until the 17th and then go up to $30 at the door. VIP is $45 in advance and $50 at the door. Buy tickets: http://cltampa.xorbia.com/sliders

VIP includes a slider from each competing restaurant, a private VIP-only area sponsored by The Vault, one complimentary beer or cocktail, side options to accompany the competing sliders, & more.

Participating restaurants include:

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/154627968464861/

Twitter enraged by McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce disaster

McDonald’s enraged Twitter users in yet another PR failure yesterday when they failed to provide enough Szechuan Sauce after touting a special day for Rick and Morty fans to try the rare sauce.

Fans screamed at McDonald’s and threatened legal action. The police were even called to control the riots and lines.

In case you didn’t already think society is heading down a bottomless hole, here is some further evidence:

Celebrate World Food Day October 13th – Help Fundraise for Puerto Rico

Celebrate World Food Day 2017 on Friday, October 13th. Fundraisers will be held worldwide for Puerto Rico relief with World Central Kitchen. World Central Kitchen is a “group of chefs creating smart solutions to hunger and poverty”. It is a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

Restaurants and Chefs are coming together for a cause with a number of them pledging to donate 10% of their proceeds on this day to World Central Kitchen.

Chef Jose Andres and his team are doing great work in Puerto Rico helping feed the hungry who have lost access to food due to Hurricane Maria. His efforts continue and this day of fundraising is meant to unite chefs for this cause.

Ciccio Restaurant Group in Tampa Bay has pledged to participate. Their restaurant group operated Ciccio / Water, Daily Eats, Ciccio Cali, Green Lemon, Better Byrd, The Lodge, and Fresh Kitchen. I’ll keep you updated on any restaurants I find in the area participating and also update on social media as well.

It’s not too late to be a part of this effort. Restaurant signups are still being accepted and can be done at: http://www.worldcentralkitchen.org/restaurant-sign-up-wfd/

Find a full list of participating restaurants at: http://www.worldcentralkitchen.org/world-food-day/

Let’s come together for Puerto Rico!

NEW: H20℃ Boba Shop & Thai-Rolled Ice Cream opens near USF

USF has no shortage of dessert shops and cafes. There has to be over 10 cafes and shops near the USF campus.

Last year Ice Smile was one of the shops in Tampa to popularize Thai-Rolled Ice Cream and people went nuts for it. We’re talking over an hour wait for Thai-Rolled Ice Cream. Now a new shop has emerged on Fletcher Avenue just minutes from USF.

H20℃ opened in August on Fletcher by the USF – Tampa Campus and is serving Thai-Rolled Ice Cream and bubble tea at 13520 University Plaza Street. The bubble tea is served in light bulbs which has been a popular fad on the west coast for over a year now.

Got Tea was one of the first shops in Tampa to serve light bulb boba last year.

For more info on H20℃ visit them on social media:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/H2OCicecream/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/h2oc_tampa/

It is open daily from Monday to Sunday from 12PM-11PM.

You can reach them at (813) 559-1645.

 

Grand Opening! Thai Inspired Roll Ice Cream in Tampa.

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Guide: Top 8 Local Bars in Tampa

Drinking in Tampa is a mixed bag. Lots of bars close early and many overcharge for drinks that contain almost no alcohol or have downright terrible service. City officials and bar owners are also regularly working against each other. There was even an incident in 2013 where the city once tried to change the closing hours for bars to midnight?!

At the same time, Tampa is home to one of the largest United States Bartenders Guild chapters in the country and holds an excellent Repeal Party in December every year. Tampa has a booming craft beer industry and plenty of wine dives around town as well as liquor distilleries on the horizon.

Ybor City and South Tampa have been had their moments in the sunshine for nightlife and over time both have waned as Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and Downtown Tampa become the center of town. Only time will tell.

Here are my Top 8 Bars in Tampa. This is a personal list and you may not agree with my choices and that is okay.

#8 – Ybor City Wine Bar

#winetasting #ybor 🍷

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Ybor City Wine Bar is a great place to catch up with a friend or go on a date. The shop is quaint and all the bartenders I have encountered there have been friendly. You can sit inside or outside depending on the type of night you are looking for – both are enjoyable. The owner holds a wine class every Wednesday and has also expanded over into Seminole Heights. The wine selection is solid and I have enjoyed a few great evenings there.

1600 E 7th Ave, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 999-4966. http://www.yborcitywinebar.com/

 

#7 – First Chance, Last Chance Bar

The #emonight 2 year anniversary at @firstchancelastchance has been amazing

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Want a hipster dive bar? First Chance, Last Chance Bar in Ybor City is exactly that. If you’re spending $10 or less be sure to bring cash. Lots of shot specials and plenty of spirits. A nice outdoor courtyard with a DJ spinning regularly as well. Drinks prices are nice and cheap and the happy hour is great.

1707 N 16th St, Tampa, FL 33605. (813) 248-5555. https://www.firstchancelastchance.com/

#6 – Mr. Dunderbaks

My kind of pub!

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You like craft beer? What about German beer and food? Oktoberfest? Mr. Dunderbaks has an impressive beer list and now has installed their own brewery into the mix. Stepping into the restaurant makes you feel like you departed Tampa into a German pub. The best place to be during the World Cup. The food is pretty good too.

14929 Bruce B Downs Blvd, Tampa, FL 33613. (813) 977-4104. http://dunderbaks.ieasysite.com/

#5 –  C. 1949

Seminole Heights is the mecca of hipster bars and C. 1949 provides a huge list of craft beer to visitors for great prices  – many of them recently released. Events are held regularly including Taco Tuesday and a Monday night farmer’s market. The interior is modern and cool and the outside deck is perfect for autumn or winter weather. Live music is regularly put on as well.

6905 N Orleans Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 990-8883. http://c1949.com/

#4 – Lowry Parcade

Parcade Barcade 🎮✌🍷🍻

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Finally a place for nerds. Lowry Parcade fuses craft beer enthusiasts with video game nerds into one building. The outcome is a great local neighborhood bar in Seminole Heights that allows both crowds to indulge in their passions. We need more of this in Tampa.

1213 W Waters Ave, Tampa, FL 33604. (813) 915-9180. http://lowryparcade.com/

#3 – Ciro’s Speakeasy and Supper Club

It was a #punchbowl #cocktail #speakeasy kind of #Monday. Win.

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When you’re talking high-quality cocktails, Ciro’s delivers an experience you will not forget. They regularly host cocktail dinners and any night there is an experience that will take you back to the 1920s. The drinks are delicious although quite pricey. It’s a perfect place to celebrate a special night with friends or a date.

2109 Bayshore Blvd, Tampa, FL 33606. (813) 251-0022. http://www.cirostampa.com/

#2 – Hotel Bar

Refined cocktails from hotels around the world. Hotel Bar has an elegant interior and the staff is excellent every time I visit. I only wish Hotel Bar had a larger location, but maybe that is one of the things to appreciate about it as well. Drink prices are what you would expect from a place called Hotel Bar. Not overly expensive and not cheap.

200 N. Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 533-2650. http://hotelbartampa.com/

#1 – Anise Global Gastrobar

Somewhere in Thyme 🖤 #anise #tampa #tampabay #love #gastropub #nightlife #love #cocktails

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The best in town. Anise Gastrobar has consistently remained the best place to drink in Tampa since it opened a few years back. The cocktail menu is constantly evolving with the building – they regularly hold events and interact with the industry around them. The space inside is beautiful and it is right across the street from Curtis Hixon Park. The prices have always been fair and the happy hour is excellent. Anise is the best place to drink in Tampa – hands down.

777 N Ashley Dr, Tampa, FL 33602. (813) 225-4272. https://www.aniseglobal.com/


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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.

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.