Make us your home page

Fresh concepts brewing in downtown Tampa


James DeVito is staking his claim that Tampa's downtown is on the verge of momentous change. ¶ By mid April, DeVito plans to open Taps Wine and Beer Merchants in 1,800 square feet on the ground floor of the SkyPoint condo tower. ¶ He says it's a $500,000 gamble and is betting downtown will become a nighttime destination for Tampa Bay residents. ¶ Judging from all that's about to take place, it may not be a bad bet.

Across Ashley, the city plans to build a new art museum and park. Riverwalk, Mayor Pam Iorio's 2.2-mile linear park, is already under way. A second condo tower, Element, is being built nearby on Tampa Street and promising to bring more residents to the area.

"I really think the downtown is coming to life," DeVito said. "We're early, but we think it's a good risk to take."

DeVito, 37, wasn't familiar with Tampa when he moved to Florida after several years working on Wall Street for Deutsche Bank. His interest was in restaurants, and he enrolled in culinary school at the Art Institute in Fort Lauderdale. After scouting for possible locations, he settled on Tampa about six months ago.

He fell in love with the SkyPoint site, which opened last year. He felt that SkyPoint's developers, Novare Group of Atlanta and the Intown Group locally, shared his vision for downtown: making it an urban playground for professionals who want to live near the amenities of a big city.

DeVito's concept for Taps is new for the Tampa Bay area.

On one side will be a wine bar with 56 wines from around the world on tap. All told, there will be more than 100 wines by the bottle. This section will have a lounge vibe, with jazz playing in the background, sofas, community tables and carpeting.

The other side will be a boutique beer tavern, with 30 beers from around the world on tap and a total of more than 300 beers. DeVito said he won't have brands like Bud, but he might have, say, Corona. The decor will be more masculine: flat screen TVs, leather benches, a two-story beer cooler towering above the bar.

While separate, the two sides will be unified by color and atmosphere. "No one has ever put these two concepts together before," DeVito said.

Taps should fit in nicely with the area's development plans, said Paul Ayres, the director of marketing for the Tampa Downtown Partnership. It's the latest nightspot, restaurant or coffee shop to open or plan to open in the area in the past two years, joining the swank Fly Bar and Restaurant, Paninoteca Mediterranean Cafe, Malio's Prime Steak House, Bamboozle (Vietnamese fusion), Moxie's and Indigo Coffee.

"We're now seeing the places match up with the type of people moving into downtown," Ayres said. "Taps will go a step further. It will attract not just the resident, but the visitor from greater Tampa Bay.

"We are talking a major shift that's going on in the downtown, and it's happening right now."

Michael Van Sickler can be reached at or (813) 226-3402.

Fresh concepts brewing in downtown Tampa 03/06/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 6, 2008 5:01am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]
  3. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  4. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.

  5. Another Hollywood nursing home resident dies. It's the 9th in post-Irma tragedy.

    State Roundup

    The Broward County Medical Examiner's office is investigating another death of a resident of the Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills — the ninth blamed on the failure of a cooling system that became a stifling deathtrap three days after Irma hit.

    Carlos Canal, pictured at 47 years old, came to Miami from Cuba in 1960. Above is his citizenship photo. [Courtesy of Lily Schwartz]