All of the sudden there seems to be a large number of restaurants and bars in Tampa Bay reporting cases of Coronavirus among their staff members. Some are closing and some are not.
This is occurring at the same time as Florida coronavirus cases are spiking and fears of a shutdown are coming back into play. Governor DeSantis has swore there will be no shutdowns and this is the “new normal”.
2020 has been one of the craziest years. It has been especially hard on our black-owned small businesses who may not have the same access to capital that other businesses do and who are dealing with the fallout of the Coronavirus and now racial tensions after the brutal murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
None of these things are new. Disparities in support for black-owned businesses has existed probably since the beginning of our country. There are ways to help make a difference though.
Here is a list of black-owned restaurants and businesses that you can support in Tampa Bay. If we all do our part, we can help our fellow businesses get through this storm. Consider supporting them.
Looking for Valentine’s Day 2020 plans in Tampa Bay? Here are some suggestions:
Valentine’s Day Friday Flight: Tampa International Airport is having a free concert at the airport for Valentine’s Day on February 14th with The DeLeon Band in the Main Terminal Space from 4:30PM to 6:30PM. The airport gates are available for dining as well for those who enjoy a travel backdrop with their new TPA All-Access Program: tpaallaccess.com4100 George J. Bean Pkwy, Tampa, FL 33607.
Anti-Valentine’s Day Cocktail Release Party: Head on over to URBAN Brew and BBQ in St. Petersburg for an Anti-Valentine’s Day event on February 14th from 5PM to 10PM. Four Roses will headline the event with two featured cocktails. 2601 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33713.
Valentine’s Day Speed Friend-ing: The Lowry Parcade in Seminole Heights is hosting a speed friend-ing event on February 14th from 7:30PM to 10:30PM where the object is to get to know new people instead of just dating and it’s absolutely free. Match with anyone at the event and Lowry Parcade will provide you with tokens to play some games together. 1213 W. Waters Ave., Tampa, FL 33604.
Hello Kitty Cafe Food Truck Pop-up: The popular Sanrio character from Japan comes to WestShore Plaza on Saturday, February 15th from 10AM to 8PM. Snacks and merchandise are available. Great to pencil into your weekend plans. 250 Westshore Plaza, Tampa, FL 33609.
D&B Family Valentine’s Day Party: Dave & Buster’s in Brandon has a special promotion for Valentine’s Day from 6PM to 9PM. A special buffet for $21.56 with appetizers, desserts, and soft drinks with an option to upgrade to a $20 power card and unlimited game play for $10 more. There will be a live DJ, games, and prizes. Tickets available on Eventbrite. 10209 Estuary Lakes Dr., Tampa, FL 33619.
Punk Rock Valentine – Prom Night with The Ramones: The Independent Bar and Cafe in Seminole Heights is having a special throwback party on Valentine’s Day from 8PM to Midnight. It will celebrate the looks, hairstyles and music of the 1980’s with a special concert. They will have a prom photobooth, name the prom king and queen (for the best dressed), and have spiked punch (of course!). 5016 N. Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33603.
Valentine’s Day Party: Byblos Tampa on Macdill is throwing a party on Saturday, February 15th in honor of Valentine’s Day. The event will feature singer Mohanad, DJ Khalil, and Belly Dancer Gypsi. Tickets are $60 and will include cold and hot lebanese meza, soft drinks, main grill course, and a welcoming champagne toast. Reservation can be made at 727-687-2466. 2832 S. MacDill Ave., Tampa, FL 33629.
Love’s Revenge – Haunted Trail: Head over to Plant City for a spooky haunted trail this Valentine’s Day weekend from 7PM to 11PM at Sir Henry’s Haunted Trail. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased online. 2837 South Frontage Road, Plant City, FL 33566.
Shuffletine’s Day: Shuffle in Tampa Heights will have a special celebration on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, from 4PM to Midnight. For $30 you can play Shuffleboard, drink a bottle of champagne, eat a heart-shaped pretzel, and enjoy a dessert. You will also be entered into a contest to win a $50 gift card. 2612 N Tampa St, Tampa, FL 33602
“Love Reimagined” Dining Pop-Up: Rooster & The Till and Ichicoro have joined forces for a special dining pop-up event. If you’re willing to spend, it could be a great time. Tickets start at $160. 1910 North Florida Ave. Tampa, FL 33602.
A Filipino favorite, Jollibee, is opening its doors on Friday, January 17th at 4057 Park Boulevard, Pinellas Park, Florida. The location will be the 40th location to open for the franchise which is currently experiencing high growth and expansion across the country. The chain plans to open 150 stores in the United States by 2023. It is the first location in Tampa Bay.
The opening time for opening day is from 9AM to 10PM.
“We cannot wait to welcome Jollibee fans who have long waited for their turn to finally have Jollibee in their area, in addition to welcoming new foodies intrigued by our unique menu, which we fondly describe as a joyous mash-up of Western comfort food and Asian flavors,” said Beth Dela Cruz, President of Jollibee Foods Corporation North America, Philippine Brands Group.
Popular items at Jollibee include the Chickenjoy, Jolly Spaghetti made with signature sweet-style sauce loaded with chunky slices of savory ham and hotdog, and Peach Mango Pie, made with real Philippine mangoes enclosed in a light, crispy crust.
Tampa is home to one of the largest Filipino communities with its Bayanihan Center and annual PhilFest celebration that draws thousands for a celebration of Filipino food and culture every April.
There are some perks for those who choose to line-up early for the opening:
The first 50 customers in line to spend $25 or more will get FREE Chickenjoy for a year.*
The first 50 with the best #ItsOurTurn signs will get a Jollibee in Barong Funko Pop.
The first 300 on day 1 (plus the first 100 on days 2 and 3) will get a free drawstring bag with a minimum $25 purchase.
*One 6-piece bucket of Chickenjoy per month for a period of one year
Bubble tea fans have plenty to be excited about. Ding Tea Tampa on Waters has a new opening date of Friday, January 24th, 2020. The location is located next to where the old Yummy House and Got Tea locations were.
The delay was explained to be connected to the health department (Ding Tea was originally set to open on November 3rd).
It will be located at 2202 West Waters Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33604.
Ding Tea is a chain from Taiwan that has over 350 locations in Asia and has been rapidly expanding across the United States. There was a location that opened in between this time period by USF Tampa’s Uptown at 1518 East Fowler Avenue Suite B. One of the latest businesses to open in that area.
Tampa chefs, Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro will take their talent to the masses in America on Thursday, December 26th when they compete on Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay”. The chefs currently own Xilo Mexican at The Hall on Franklin and focus on serving fresh Mexican-inspired cuisine. I stopped by last weekend to sit down with Chef Castro and discuss how they got here and where they are going.
Chef Rivera and Castro are best known for their past project called Piquant, a popular French bakery concept that was located first in Hyde Park Village and then West Tampa. The project was supplying the Tampa Bay area with fresh breads and pastries and certainly a local pioneer in that space where French bakeries are far and few between.
Their Kouign-Amann was a personal favorite and when I went west to San Francisco, I was amazed and how the ideas that Rivera and Castro brought to Tampa Bay area are so huge out there and still mostly unknown out here. Piquant went through various cycles, but was ultimately closed much to my dismay.
When Chef Rivera and Chef Castro opened Xilo at Hall on Franklin, I wasn’t sure what inspired the move to Mexican cuisine. Castro explained to me that the idea to make Mexican food came from their unique past. Castro was trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in New York City and he volunteered at a church where he was trained on Mexican sauces and cuisine.
Rivera previously worked for a corporation that regularly flew her around Mexico and exposed her to many of the regional cuisines of the area. When deciding on a concept, Mexican came to them as something both different for the area and something that they could both uniquely bring to the table.
Slowly the chefs have added items to the menu that are representative of their love for Mexican cuisine including brunch options such as chilaquiles. They are one of the only vendors that are open during breakfast at the food hall.
When the chefs entered Hall on Franklin they also took control of the Kofe Tampa shop and have slowly moved into coffee as a business, with prior experience selling their own proprietary roasted blend at their bakery. Soon they will move toward plans to provide their coffee on a bigger scale with a more wholesale focus.
Their coffee can best be described as a truly Latin roast with bold espresso flavors.
The future may hold more restaurant locations in the Tampa Bay area, although the chefs are still considering potential locations across the state of Florida. They are well-traveled and have received much of their inspiration from past culinary projects and mentors. Hopefully their love for baking will also be a part of these next moves.
One thing that is clear is that both these chefs are passionate about food and are passionate about baking. Their debut on the Food Network is a great win for Tampa and also for themselves. Latinx representation is still lacking on Food Network and in the food industry in general.
Let’s hope they can beat Bobby Flay. Catch Chef Rosana Rivera and Chef Ricardo Castro on Food Network at 10:30PM EST on Thursday, December 26th. Free tickets are available to their watch party on Eventbrite that will run from 8:30PM to 11:30PM at Hall on Franklin.
Xilo Mexican.The Hall on Franklin. 1701 N Franklin Street, Tampa, FL 33602.
More than 225 local businesses are taking over Vinoy Park in Downtown St. Petersburg for LocalShops1’s 10th Annual Shopapalooza Festival on Saturday, November 30th and Sunday, December 1st. The family-friendly event features local art, local music, and the local vibe that makes St. Pete what it is.
Admission is free and open to the public. Guests who register before will be entered in a chance to win a $500 shopping spree. The event will benefit Chart 411 and Earth Day St. Pete.
“Shopapalooza Festival celebrates and spotlights the great independent businesses that make Tampa Bay such an amazing place. It gives consumers the opportunity to kick off the holiday shopping season by shopping locally!” says Ester Venouziou, LocalShops1 founder.
Venouziou has made it a mission to support local businesses for over a decade.
Vendor options include gourmet food products, home decor, handcrafted jewelry, clothing and accessories, health and beauty products, fair trade goods, vintage finds, pet treats and toys, books, candles and much more.
The events will have “food hall” that features the following options in one spot:
Buddy Brew Coffee
Hot Pursuit Catering BBQ
Main Street Boys Empanadas
Mookie’s Kettle Korn
Pipo’s Cuban Cafe
Pop Goes the Waffle
Softee the King
The Best Thai Food
The Fishin Chicken
The Tea Jug
Food options around the event include:
Emmy & J Roasted Nuts
iPop Gourmet Popcorn
JB’s Sweet Addiction
Lynn’s Ice Cream & Belgian Waffles
Skoops Italian Ice
Sweet Life Cupcakes
The Tea Jug (2nd location)
You Are the Hamster
The event is sponsored by the City of St. Petersburg. It’s sure to be a great time so make sure to go out and shop local.
Some cooler weather is finally upon us and festivals are everywhere. What’s happening this weekend in Tampa Bay?
Savor St. Pete: Clearwater Beach Uncorked has moved to Downtown St. Pete and is serving up food and drinks including wine, liquor, and beer on Saturday, November 2nd and Sunday, November 3rd. Tickets start at $75 for General Admission. 21+. 400 Bayshore Dr NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701.
SouthShore Seafood & Arts Festival: Enjoy seafood, music, crafts, and more at a waterfront park in Ruskin this weekend. Over 15,000 people are expected to attend. Tickets start at $5. Family and pet-friendly. 2401 19th Ave NW, Ruskin, FL 33570.
Tampa Riverwalk Food + Art Festival: Downtown Tampa is having a food and art festival at Tampa Waterworks Park next to Ulele and Armature Works on Saturday, November 2nd from 10AM-7PM. 70+ vendors are expected to attend. Food trucks and live music will be present. 1710 N Highland Ave, Tampa, FL 33602.
Day of the Dead Block Party: The Dog Bar St. Pete is having a Día de los Muertos party on Saturday, November 2nd, from 11AM-6PM. The block party will have face painting by Nicole Desiree Hays of Body Wars, Nueva Cantina’s food truck, chihuahua races, DJ Shannon C, street vendors, a costume contest, raffle prizes, and more. 2300 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, FL 33712.
The SouthShore Seafood and Arts festival is coming this November 2nd and 3rd to E.G. Simmons Park in Ruskin. Over 15,000 people attended the festival in 2018. Organizers are offering a group rate of $3 for 20 admission tickets. The festival is kid and pet-friendly (pets must be on leashes).
There will be a wide-variety of seafood available at the festival including stone crabs and a variety of other seafood dishes from the Gulf and beyond.
The event is organized by the SouthShore Chamber of Commerce.
There will be boats and RVs, arts and crafts, educational displays, commercial exhibits, and tons of interactive kids entertainment for families to enjoy. Over 150 vendors will be present at the event.