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Some downtown Tampa shops welcome Gasparilla revelers; others won't

TAMPA — The Gasparilla day shopping list for downtown Tampa restaurants is way beyond supersized.

At Samaria Cafe, they're piling in 6,000 eggs and 200 pounds of gyros. Jerk Hut is fortified with 480 cans of Red Stripe beer and 700 pounds of its signature chicken. Cafe Volo will be ready with 800 pizza slices. Taps Wine & Beer Merchants brought in 10,000 cans of beer.

As the Gasparilla parade extends downtown for the first time, some merchants are anticipating their biggest sales day ever. Some, but not all, downtown business owners are stocked and stoked.

"We're excited about it," said Malio Iavarone, whose Malio's Prime Steakhouse is popular among Gasparilla krewes. They'll open at 11 a.m., serving drinks and sandwiches on the patio.

Despite officials' promise to crack down on underage drinking and other bad Gasparilla behavior, some business owners decided not to risk it.

Bamboozle Cafe is typically closed on Saturdays and decided not to open.

"We heard enough stories about how it gets very rowdy. We're not sure about the cost to repair things," said Lynn Pham, one of the owners.

Five Guys Burgers and Fries in the ground floor of the SkyPoint condominium hired an off-duty sheriff's deputy and scheduled a full crew, including managers from other stores.

"It's going to be fun," said JoJo Jiampetti, a regional vice president who will be in the trenches serving burgers at 8 a.m. She won't quit until traffic dies down from the concert across the street at Curtis Hixon Park.

Upstairs, SkyPoint residents have hired extra security to keep revelers from getting too close. Wristbands will be passed out to residents and guests, and the front door will be locked. Some residents, who have a front-row seat for the festivities, are throwing their own parties.

Jeff Mathieson bought a second-floor, one-bedroom condo overlooking Ashley Drive three years ago, never guessing he'd have a prime view of the Gasparilla parade. He has invited 20 friends on Saturday.

At Taps Wine & Beer in SkyPoint, co-owner James Pellizzi will have a band and a special "pirates punch."

"It could be 5,000 to 50,000," said Pellizzi. "We really don't know what it's going to bring."

Moxie's Cafe, a North Tampa Street eatery that is normally closed Saturdays, will open only for a private krewe event and to cater for a couple of downtown businesses.

Over at Eddie & Sam's NY Pizza, manager Mike Sarmat expects business to be a little better than usual. For the past 10 years, sales were average during the parade, he said.

But this year will be no different for the Old Tampa Book Company, which has closed during the parade for 15 years.

"There is nothing worse than a full container of beer coming into a bookstore," said Ellen Brown, who owns the store with her husband, David Brown. They're going to St. Petersburg for the day.

"We close because we have nothing to offer to that crowd," she said.

Likewise, the John F. Germany Public Library will be closed.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3431.

Some downtown Tampa shops welcome Gasparilla revelers; others won't 01/28/10 [Last modified: Friday, January 29, 2010 8:30am]

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