TAMPA — On Friday morning, the management of Hugo's Spanish Restaurant told an assembled group that it was the restaurant's last day of business under the current ownership. One of Tampa's iconic Spanish-Cuban restaurants since 1975, it will close today, undergo a transfer of ownership and reopen "as soon as possible," according to general manager Don Johnston.
The Cafe Con Tampa breakfast group, a weekly public forum hosted by Tampa public relations firm Tucker/Hall, was told that the restaurant will announce the new ownership and future plans next week. The group, which has met at Hugo's for eight years, will move next week to Oxford Exchange.
According to Johnston, "I can't say who the new owner is. It will still be Hugo's, the same name. There's just been a little hiccup in the transfer of ownership. It will be like the phoenix rising from the flames."
Johnston said he didn't foresee staffing changes in the eponymous restaurant, owned for decades by Hugo Sanchez. Tampa has lost a number of its iconic Cuban restaurants in recent years. Although dense with dining options, in the SoHo District Hugo's has represented one of the very few places to get a Cuban or picadillo sandwich.
Hugo's website boasts of an "extensive renovation underway," but other details are scant.
"I'm excited about the changes," Johnston said, "but I'm just supposed to quietly close the doors today."
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.