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NEWS: Dark Door Spirits releases ‘Pandemic at the Disco’ essential vodka, aims to help hospitality workers

Tampa Bay-based craft distillery Dark Door Spirits is releasing an essential vodka called “Pandemic at the Disco” in support of the hospitality industry that has been adversely impacted by COVID-19.

“Just like the essential workers that have bravely kept us going for many months, this is the essential vodka that has the power to make the best of any situation – even the hot mess that is 2020”, said Dark Door Founder and CEO Matt Allen.

Thousands of bartenders and support staff have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the virus that has hit the United States and Florida particularly hard. Some estimates suggest over 51% of Floridians could be at risk for eviction.

Over 1 million people are currently waiting to be placed on financial assistance in the state as the unemployment rate passes 10% in Florida.

The Washington Post recently profiled a bartender who has just $10 left in his bank account and is facing eviction in the nation’s capital. These are very difficult times for workers in the hospitality industry and for all Americans.

Pandemic at the Disco essential vodka from Dark Door Spirits. Proceeds benefit charitable organizations.
Pandemic at the Disco essential vodka. Image Credit: Dark Door Spirits.

Fifty percent of Dark Door Spirits profits from sales of Pandemic at the Disco will be donated to charitable organizations supporting the local hospitality industry, including the U.S. Bartender Guild COVID-19 relief fund.

Pandemic at the Disco is available through local distribution from Pepin Distributing Co. and Great Bay Distributors as well as many local liquor stores and restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.

Luekens and Drizly will be retail partners for those who want to enjoy responsibly at home.

“We’re doing this now because we see a need in the community – a need for something to benefit the hospitality industry and a need for a laugh while not sugar-coating the mess we’re in,” Allen said.

“We want to support the people who have supported us all these years. Creating a great product with a fun label seemed like one thing we could do.”

“By ordering Pandemic at the Disco by name at their favorite bar or restaurant, Tampa Bay residents are helping their friends and neighbors in the hospitality industry at a time when they are struggling to make ends meet”, Allen said.

Dark Door Spirits was founded in 2016 in Tampa Bay by Co-Founders Matthew Allen and Brandon Marshall focusing on “crafting unique and unexpectedly delicious spirits”.

For more information visit them online at darkdoorspirits.com.

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Articles Charity Events

NEWS: Support Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Saturday at 22nd Street Coffee

This is a sponsored post for 22nd Street Coffee. Opinions are my own and do not reflect those of the sponsor.

22nd Street Coffee in Ybor City will have a Breast Cancer Awareness Day on Saturday, October 12th, 2019 from 7AM-2PM. Proceeds from the event will go to supporting the American Cancer Society in the fight against breast cancer.

22nd Street is located just off the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway just across from Brisk Coffee Roasters and near IKEA Tampa.

Knitted Knockers of Tampa Bay will be present at the event and there will be information about breast cancer provided from non-profits.

The mission of Knitted Knockers is to “connect volunteer knitters and crocheters with breast cancer survivors to offer free Knitted Knockers to any woman who wants them”.

Breast cancer is a very important issue to me, my cousin died earlier this year from the disease and unfortunately she did not catch breast cancer early enough in her body. That’s why awareness is so important and vital to fighting this illness.

22nd Street Coffee will feature a special “Pink Drink” for the day made with chocolate and strawberry with pink whipped cream.

Here are some facts to know about breast cancer:

  • 268,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S. in 2019 as well as 62,930 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. (National Breast Cancer Foundation)
  • Estimates indicate that 42,260 deaths (41,760 women and 500 men) from breast cancer will occur this year. (American Society of Clinical Oncology)
  • Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the United States, after lung cancer.
  • Since 1989, the number of women who have died of breast cancer has steadily decreased thanks to early detection and treatment improvements. (American Society of Clinical Oncology)

Make sure you come out and support the fight against breast cancer on Saturday!

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Event name: Breast Cancer Awareness Day at 22nd Street Coffee

Venue: 22nd Street Coffee

Address: 208 N. 22nd St., Tampa, FL 33605

Phone: (813) 304-0373

Date & Time: Saturday, October 12th, 2019, 7AM-2PM

Cost: Free to attend

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/2132238487079941/

Website: http://www.22ndstreetcoffee.com

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Articles Charity

15th Annual Wheels of Success fundraiser happening May 31st in Tampa

The 15th Annual Wheels of Success Road Trip fundraiser is happening Friday, May 31st, 2019 at Bryan Glazer Family JCC. Tickets cost $85 per person and are now available. The event’s “Mistress of Ceremony” will be Deiah Riley from ABC Action News. The goal of the event is to provide 16 more cars to keep working families working. Lunch will be served to guests.

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Wheels of Success was founded in 2003 to help families obtain or continue working by providing them with reliable transportation through access to car repairs, vehicle replacements, licensing services,car payments, and more in the Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Pasco counties.

Low-income workers spend nearly 40% of their income on transportation in the Tampa Bay area versus 24.6% for the average citizen.

The bus system in these counties have suffered devastating budget cuts in recent years and does not run in many areas throughout the counties where people work including on the weekends when many working class people are working. Wheels of Success aims to attack these issues head on.

Clients of the non-profit “pay it forward” by paying for services and goods based on their ability to pay and by contributing time back working at Wheels of Success.

Wheels of Success helps their clients in their daily lives so they can arrive at work on-time, take their children to school, shop for groceries, and participate in community activities.

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Tickets can be purchased online at wheelsofsuccess.org.

The event is sponsored by GTE Financial, Metropolitan Ministries, ABC Action News, Tampa Bay Times, TECO, AAA, Doubletake Marketing & PR, and more.

Follow Wheels of Success online:

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/wheelsofsuccess

Instagram: http://twitter.com/wheelsofsuccess

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Event Name: 15th Annual Wheels of Success Road Trip Fundraiser

Venue: Bryan Glazer Family JCC

Date & Time: Friday, May 31st, 2019, 11AM-1:15PM

Address: 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa, FL 33606

Cost: $85 per person

Website: http://www.wheelsofsuccess.org/

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Articles News

BJ’s Charitable Foundation donates $50,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay to celebrate new Clearwater store

BJ’s Charitable Foundation, part of BJ’s Wholesale Club, recently donated $50,000 to Feeding Tampa Bay, part of Feeding America®’s member bank network, to celebrate their new store opening in Clearwater.

The donation will help to provide fresh and nutritious food for people who are food insecure and lack access to healthy food. BJ’s donated 193,000 pounds of food in 2018 to Feeding Tampa Bay, helping to provide nearly 160,000 meals in West Central Florida.

According to Thomas Mantz, Feeding Tampa Bay Executive Director, “Florida is 4th in the nation for family hunger and 1 in 6 people in our region live with daily hunger”. Nearly 60% of all people in West Florida are eligible for food stamps from all ethnicities with seniors and children primarily suffering from food insecurity according to Feeding Tampa Bay.

The new BJ’s Wholesale Club location in Clearwater will expand this program and donate unsold produce, meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, and bakery products daily to help reduce food waste and provide fresh meals to people who need it most.

The Grand Opening for BJ’s Wholesale Club is set for Saturday, April 13th, 2019. The new club will be located at 26996 U.S. 19 North Clearwater.

BJ’s beats average supermarket prices by up to 25% and will offer BJ’s Gas. The new location will feature a full-service deli with premium meats and cheese as well as butchers who can cut and repackage meat at no additional cost.

Some services offered for guests include same-day grocery delivery, in-store pickup for online orders, and digital add-to-card coupons.

BJ’s Wholesale Club currently operates 216 clubs and 138 BJ’s Gas stations in 16 states. BJ’s is publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts.

Feeding Tampa Bay has served the Tampa Bay area since 1982 and serves a food-insecure population of more than 700,000 people in a 10-county area. Over 100 million pounds of food have been served in the last 5 years by Feeding Tampa Bay. Find out more about Feeding Tampa Bay at feedingtampabay.org.

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Food Events

Tampa Bay Food Fight 2018 a smashing success

Metropolitan Ministries had their Tampa Bay Food Fight 2018 charity fundraiser tonight at Armature Works in Tampa Heights.

St. Pete edged out Tampa for the best food city with chefs claiming victory from The Mill, Parkshore Grill, Locale Market, Dr. BBQ, Red Mesa, Il Ritorno, The Birchwood, and The Peabody.

Metropolitan Ministries raised $250,000 at the event and is still aiming for $300,000 as their goal to help them in their mission to fight poverty, hunger, and homelessness.

The proceeds help their Culinary Arts Program that teaches valuable skills to those seeking to improve their lives and work in the food industry.

You can donate at 
http://secure.metromin.org/site/SPageNavigator/ITB_Culinary_Arts_Program.html


Here are highlights from the evening:

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#tbff2018 #behope #tampabayfoodfight @levy.restaurants

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Events

Support Tampa Bay Food Fight October 16th at Armature Works

The Tampa Bay Food Fight is returning this October in the fight against poverty and hunger. Chefs from Tampa and St. Petersburg will put out their best food in the name of charity. Which city do you think will will win? The fundraiser will occur on Tuesday, October 16th, 2018 from 6:30PM-9:30PM in Tampa Heights at Armature Works (1910 North Ola Avenue).
 

The competition will be hosted by WWE Superstar Titus O’Neil and Radio Personality Mike Calta. Tickets are $125 and are now on-sale. Buy your ticket at tampabayfoodfight.org Participating Tampa restaurants include:
  • Elevage
  • CENA
  • Steelbach
  • Oystercatchers
  • Armani’s
  • Hemingway
  • Ava
  • Oxford Exchange
  • Bern’s Steak House
  • Inside the Box
  • Dough Nation
  • Cru Cellar
  • Graze 1910
  • World of Beer
  • Zukku Sushi
  • Ciccio Cali
  • Ocean Prime
  • Mise en Place
  • The Rez Grill
  • Rooster & The Till
  • Forbici
  • Haven
  • Chismis
Participating St. Pete restaurants include:
  • The Mill
  • Parkshore Grill
  • The Avenue
  • Noble Crust
  • Better Byrd
  • Hawker’s
  • The Birchwood
  • Big Storm Brewery
  • Mini Doughnut Factory
  • Il Ritorno
  • The Peabody
  • Locale
  • Dr. BBQ
  • Red Mesa
  • Ichicoro
The line-up is truly exceptional. The event is organized by Metropolitan Ministries and benefits Metropolitan Ministries and Inside the Box which are working to fight homelessness, poverty, and hunger.
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Articles Restaurant News Reviews

Taking a look Inside the Box at Armature Works

I have long heard of Inside the Box, but never actually been to the cafe before. I reached out to Inside the Box when they opened at Armature Works in Tampa Heights to get the story behind this unique project.

I met up for a few hours with their PR representative and Executive Chef Clifford Barsi walked me through their operation. Inside the Box is a social enterprise that generates funds to help fund Metropolian Ministries. 100% of the profits from the deli go back to the charity.

Chef Clifford Barsi spearheaded social enterprises for Metropolitan Ministries after volunteering there and realizing he wanted to help combine culinary with helping people get back on their feet.

Attacking Poverty Using Culinary Arts Training

Inside the Box primarily employees people who need work that have trained under their Culinary Arts program for their cafe and also helps those in need get employment and training at some of Tampa’s busiest restaurants including Mise En Place, Boca, Bizou Brassie, and Oxford Exchange.

The goal? To help those in need get higher paying jobs by giving them desirable skills that are needed in kitchens. Poverty often exists because people don’t have access to training and Metropolitan Ministries is working to change that.

The cost of living in Tampa has been climbing at a rapid pace although recently slowing behind the national average (sometimes 15% increases in rent prices year over year in the mid 2010s) since major investment projects around the bay began and programs like this will be needed more as people need better paying jobs to afford living in our city.

Metropolitan Ministries takes a look at what skills restaurants need from potential employees and seeks to teach these skills to their trainees. Some skills include how to be a prep cooks, advanced knife skills, how to clean a fryer/change oil, and knowledge of different essential foods. Trainees are placed in busy restaurants to build these skills that will ideally lead them to a career and financial stability.

Classes are small with only 8-10 students and is offered each quarter of the year. The course is 16-weeks. Each student is funded on a full scholarship. Only those in need qualify. Each culinary arts program features:

  • 150 hours of culinary classes
  • 20 hours for a Food Handling Certification Course
  • 100 hours of High Volume Production experience
  • 100 hours of Cafeteria experience
  • 100 hours of Restaurant experience
  • 40 hours for a Life and Employment Skills Course.

One particular skill that Chef Clifford Barsi highlighted was the importance of learning how to take a recipe and multiply or divide it. Consistency is key when restaurants are trying to create customer retention and this kind of skill is often missed in cooking programs.

None of this would possible without volunteers, donors, fundraisers, and these new social enterprises that are helping to fund these programs.

More info about their social enterprises: http://www.metromin.org/about/social-enterprise.html

Inside the Box Cafe Recommendations 

Inside the Box serves gourmet deli meat daily at Armature Works and also serves some delicious sandwiches. The price point matches the other vendors in the building at around $10-$12.

To me the best deal from the Inside the Box Armature Works stand is the deli meat which is sold at prices similar to popular Boar’s Head deli cuts, but will instead help fund a cause that aims to change and improve people’s lives.

As far as sandwiches are concerned – I tried a smoked lamb sandwich during my visit and it was absolutely delicious. During the soft opening for Armature Works I also tried a delicious turkey sandwich. The bread and cuts are certainly gourmet.

Some menu items include Smoked Salmon, Roast Porchetta, NY Strip Pastrami, and NY Strip Corned Beef. Sandwiches are steamed to keep them moist and warm when served with cheese. Plenty of sides are available to enjoy with your food.

Chef Clifford Barsi tells me that Inside the Box tries to source locally in Florida when possible, but as the Tampa Bay Times has highlighted before, that can be a challenge in Florida. You’ll find some Florida cheeses and cuts around the deli when in season.

Inside the Box also has a local market on the side where you can find lots of local produce, vegetables, coffee, and culinary goods as well as fresh bread from popular local vendors from around Tampa Bay and Florida including Piquant, Urban Canning Company, Sunset Salsa, Le’Anns Cheesecakes, and more. I’m hoping this market expands because I would like to see more things like this in our food halls.

Annual Fundraisers

You can help support the mission to end homelessness and poverty by supporting some key annual fundraisers put on by Metropolitan Ministries – although they are also always in need of volunteers to come help them get things done at the non-profit.

Metropolitan Ministries is a 4-star out of 4-star charity according to Charity Navigator.

Tampa Bay Food Fight is annual competition that Metropolitan Ministries organizes between chefs from both sides of the Howard Franklin Bridge. Proceeds from the event go back to supporting the charity.

Their Bridge Builders luncheon is coming up on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018 at Hilton Hotel Downtown and WWE SuperStar Titus O’Neil is the keynote speaker this year. There are plenty of ways to get involved.

You can donate to Metropolitan Ministries directly here: http://secure.metromin.org/site/SPageNavigator/donate.html

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Beer Events Food Events

3rd Annual Putts & Pints fundraiser this Saturday

Brew Bus Brewing will host their 3rd Annual Putts & Pints fundraiser this Saturday, September 30th, from 11AM-4PM.

The brewery will be transformed for a day into a 9-hole mini golf course to raise money for charity. Proceeds will benefit the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to funding research to eliminate childhood cancer.

Music will be played in-house by a DJ for the brewery and a live musician will be at 10th hole.

The 1st place winner at the fundraiser will win a trophy. Awards will also be given to the best dressed team.

Brew Bus has also partnered with Cigar City Brewing to brew a Gooseberry & Grapefruit IPA for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The craft beer will be sold at Brew Bus on draft or in six-packs as well as at Cigar City and select locations around town.

Tickets range from $10-$15 per person and can be purchased online.

Buy tickets: http://puttsandpints2017.eventbrite.com/

A full lunch menu will also be available including Mojo Roasted Pork Butt, BBQ Spiced Smoked Chicken, Mac & Cheese, Bacon Jalapeno Corn Bread, Baked Beans, Coleslaw, and a vegetarian option by request.

The event is sponsored by USAmeriBankPeople InclivingHRCheney BrosFreedman’s Office FurnitureAdver-T Screen Printing & EmbroideryCommercial Products, McMery Roofing, McMullen Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, Keg Craft, Air GasVologyRP&G PrintingThe RIPITT FoundationShea Barclay GroupCreative LoafingJ.J. Taylor Distributing and Gray Robinson Attorneys at Law.

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Event name: 3rd Annual Putts & Pints

Neighborhood: Seminole Heights

Date & Time: Saturday, September 30th, 2017, 11AM-4PM

Cost: $10-$15

Address: 4101 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL 33603

Buy tickets: http://puttsandpints2017.eventbrite.com/

Facebook RSVP: http://www.facebook.com/events/190145294844781/

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Beer

Cigar City Tap Talks: Invasion Pale Ale

Photo credit for the Featured Image goes to http://www.tampapix.com.

Yesterday I visited Cigar City Brewing for Tap Talk: Invasion Pale Ale.

The Tap Talks are part of a series about the history of different beers and the City of Tampa and feature curator Rodney-Kite Powell and Cigar City’s El Lector, Neil Callaghan. Proceeds from the event benefit the Tampa Bay History Center which is located in Downtown Tampa on the Tampa Riverwalk.

The event was sold out.

We learned quite a bit about Gasparilla Pirate Festival which has been a tradition in the City of Tampa since 1904.

Cigar City created the Invasion Pale Ale for Gasparilla and wanted to make a drink that was enjoyable, but not too alcoholic for the crowd to handle while at the parade. Cigar City describes it as a “citrusy, tropical and low-alcohol session beer “.

There were many interesting things we learned about Gasparilla, such as the busy life that once existed on Franklin Street, which was decorated for Gasparilla in historical times and also that there was once a trolley on Bayshore Boulevard.

We also learned about Ye Mystic Krewe, which is the original Krewe of Gasparilla, and maintained status as the only one for decades. One of the oldest pirate flags photographed in Tampa is pictured above. Find our more about Ye Mystic Krewe at http://ymkg.com/history/.

Joe Gaspar is actually a myth according to the Tampa Bay History Center and no proof can be found that he existed. Gasparilla was originally created as an event to create tourism for Tampa and to draw people to see how nice the weather was and how they could make a living here.

The popularity has never ended and thousands still head to Tampa every year for a pirate celebration like no other. I am still looking forward to going on a pirate ship in the water during the event one day.

We finished with a rare beer made with Invasion Pale Ale and adding Orange Peel and White Oak flavors called “Lue Gim Gong” after the famous Chinese-American horticulturalist.

He was known as the “The Citrus Wizard” and inherited an orange grove that he successfully made into the foundation of the citrus industry here in Florida. The beer is available now at Cigar City Brewing, but may not be easily accessible outside of the brewery.

You can donate to the Tampa Bay History Center at http://tampabayhistorycenter.org/donate/. Donations support “education programs and exhibitions” and allows them make a “collection of more than 1,000 artifacts and documents”.

 

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Restaurant News

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.

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

https://www.instagram.com/p/BP0KA1sAbzx/?taken-by=oceanhaiclearwater

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