Friday, July 20, 2018
Events

Barflies' day drinking inspires Beer Breakfast charity for Grand Prix weekend

ST. PETERSBURG — A guy walks by a Central Avenue bar and sees people drinking beer at 8 a.m. And from that depraved start, a noble force for good was born, raising thousands for charity from early morning tipplers.

The annual Beer Breakfast held downtown every year on the Saturday of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will once again draw a crowd starting at 9 a.m. for breakfast, beer and a Bloody Mary bar with the proceeds supporting a local charity.

Organizers have raised more than $30,000 since 2008. Money has gone to kids with cancer, paid for ballet lessons and helped clean up estuaries.

And it's all thanks to the grizzled barflies at Mastry's.

The iconic downtown bar that has anchored Central Avenue since 1935 is famous for its line of regulars there when it opens at 9 a.m., though there was a line at 8 a.m. for years before the city upped the closing time to 3 a.m., said owner Jay Mastry. He moved opening time back an hour.

"But they still are there when we open the doors," Mastry said.

Jared Repka, who has run the commercial finance firm Bison Financial Group since 1994 with his brother David, was walking by on his way to work when he noticed the men already drinking from full mugs of beer at 8 a.m.

"Those guys have got a great idea," thought Repka, now 46.

Beer breakfast!

It was 2002 and he and a few friends, five in all, met up for some doughnuts, beer and Bloody Marys. A party idea was born.

In 2003 downtown became a race track, and Repka pegged his Beer Breakfast to the Saturday of race weekend. More and more friends started showing up. It became such a staple event among his friends that Repka started printing T-shirts just for fun.

"It got to the point where I was printing 30, 50, 60 T-shirts using my own money," he said. "Then I got thinking, why don't I get reimbursed for the T-shirt cost but raise money for a charity?"

He picked the Children's Dream Fund, a charity that fulfills wishes for children battling a life-threatening illness. They raised $2,500 in 2008, he said.

Last year, close to 300 people stopped by during the course of the party at Mandarin Hide, a bar next door to Mastry's. The party raised $10,000 for Tampa Bay Watch, the environmental organization devoted to restoring and protecting Tampa Bay's estuaries.

Repka has a dozen sponsors now, with St. Pete Bagel and Kahwa Coffee adding to the spread that is still mostly potluck. Tito's Vodka donates vodka for the $5 Bloody Mary bar, with half the proceeds going to Florida West Ballet, this year's charity. He'll auction off a weekend package from the Sirata Beach Resort and will take cash donations from the partygoers.

"People come literally from all around the world now," Repka said. "It may have started sinister but I would say this shows that people are looking to be a part of something. People love to be able to help out when they can, and this gives them a way to do it and let their hair down."

Mastry, whose family has had its name on a Central Avenue watering hole since Babe Ruth was in town for spring training, said he got a kick out of his patrons inspiring the Beer Breakfast.

"We've been a dive bar for 100 years and nothing is going to change that," he said on a recent morning. "And that's okay."

He waved at the dozen regulars who were already holding court in his bar before 10 a.m.

Contact Sharon Kennedy Wynne at [email protected] Follow @SharonKWn.

 
Comments
Bar review: Sip and smoke at Blue Torch

Bar review: Sip and smoke at Blue Torch

Well, the bad news is that Blue Torch Cigars & Winery is not actually a winery. That combination seemed too ambitious to fly under my radar, as Blue Torch had since its opening this year, and that ended up being true.While it’s a curious name for wha...
Published: 07/19/18

Hernando Events for July 27

Events28 SaturdayWalking Sticks Club: Perry Oldenburg: The club will meet at Perry Oldenberg Wildlife and Environmental Area located off Deer Run Road, north of Brooksville. Registration is required. Those attending will learn about the history of Pe...
Published: 07/19/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay on July 20

Top things to do in Tampa Bay on July 20

Rascal Flatts: American country band will perform with special guests Dan +Shay and Carly Pearce. 7:30 p.m., MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. $21-$85.75. (813) 740-2446.Classic Albums Live: Pink Floyd: The concert series...
Published: 07/19/18
Paul Reiser, coming to Clearwater, talks about returning to standup and never winning an Emmy

Paul Reiser, coming to Clearwater, talks about returning to standup and never winning an Emmy

When Paul Reiser returned to standup comedy a few years ago, younger comics couldn’t figure him out. "All the younger comics would say, ‘Are you doing a special?’ I’d go no," said Reiser, 62. "‘What, are you getting rea...
Published: 07/19/18
Top events this weekend: Rascal Flatts, #MomTruths comedy, Metrocon, swimsuit bar crawl

Top events this weekend: Rascal Flatts, #MomTruths comedy, Metrocon, swimsuit bar crawl

MusicConcerts: Country band Rascal Flatts boot scoots through Tampa’s MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on Friday ($21-$85.75). Saturday, rock-reggae-hip-hop fusion band Slightly Stoopid perform at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg ($25-$40.98), while ...
Published: 07/19/18
Local craft beer of the week: Good For Life gluten-reduced Kölsch, Pair O’ Dice Brewing

Local craft beer of the week: Good For Life gluten-reduced Kölsch, Pair O’ Dice Brewing

For many sufferers of celiac disease, going out for a pint typically means ordering a cider. But brewers have worked hard to provide a reasonable analog for gluten-free drinkers, offering a range of brews produced from grains like sorghum and rice.Mo...
Published: 07/19/18
What’s on stage this week: Hawk & Wayne does politics, Opera Tampa toasts Gilbert & Sullivan

What’s on stage this week: Hawk & Wayne does politics, Opera Tampa toasts Gilbert & Sullivan

OPEN SEASON: TRUST METwo candidates will square off Friday to debate one of the hottest topics of the political season: immigration. You can see them in action at the First Unity Spiritual Campus, where you also may spot campaign staffers, managers a...
Published: 07/18/18
Updated: 07/19/18
Smashing Pumpkins or Dave Matthews Band? Plus Rascal Flatts, Chicago and more concert picks

Smashing Pumpkins or Dave Matthews Band? Plus Rascal Flatts, Chicago and more concert picks

The best concerts this week in Tampa Bay.
Published: 07/18/18
Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 19

Top things to do in Tampa Bay for July 19

Sunrise Sale and Pajama Party: If you forgot to set your alarm for this sale that starts at 6:43 a.m., you can still find deals into the noon hour. Wear your pajamas for extra deals and a free gift. The starting point is at Beach Drive and Second Ave...
Published: 07/18/18
Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Where to get a good hot dog in Tampa Bay for National Hot Dog Day

Monday, July 23, is National Hot Dog Day. I don’t know precisely why, but I think some major lobbying from the sausage board was involved. It’s baseball season, it’s barbecue season, it’s I-don’t-feel-like-cooking season. Those are plenty of reasons....
Published: 07/18/18