TAMPA — Signs went up at 7 a.m. today. The Datz staff will be attired in vintage rock T-shirts and hipster glasses. At Dough next door there will be stuffed cats everywhere and coffee will be served in mason jars.
That's right, Datz and Dough on S MacDill are dressing up for Halloween as fellow Tampa restaurants the Refinery (their version: The Gourdery) and Fodder & Shine (a.k.a., Feedlot & Sow).
Suzanne and Roger Perry, co-owners of Datz, Dough and Roux are devotees of April Fool's pranks. This year they transformed Datz into a Chinese restaurant for the day. Another year they convinced patrons that Mayor Bob Buckhorn had approved a rooftop bar at Datz (alas, a prank only, but people still ask where the stairs are). In solidarity, the Perrys' staff goes all in: For the Chinese restaurant they sported kimonos, piped in Chinese music and offered a one-day-only professionally printed fake menu.
But this will be the first all-staff Halloween costume. As of Thursday, the cat(s), stuffed or otherwise, were still in the bag and the Bakers were in the dark. When asked why her restaurants are "going as" these other restaurants for Halloween, Suzanne said (and, see photo, she's diving deep with a recreation of Michelle Baker's style, down to the tattoos and platinum shock of hair): "Why? Cuz it makes me laugh."
Tony Pullaro, who does marketing, is the one doing the heavy lifting on the Gourdery/Feedlot shenanigans, which include huge temporary signs to replace their own marquees and menus that duplicate the brown craft paper look of Fodder's menus. He explains the costume as a kind of tribute.
"The Perrys love the Bakers! They admire their business and style. We are so excited to break the news to them. We are going to show them photos of the Perrys dressed in full Bakers costumes. It's going to be hysterical. They will take it as tribute. It's all done out of love and good fun."
Roger Perry — not a beard and tattoo kind of guy — has cultivated scruff for the last couple weeks and is utilizing some fancy faux tat sleeves and a Portlandia-appropriate pair of overalls.
According to Suzanne, the Perrys intend to amble over to Fodder in full regalia. Will the four-time James Beard semifinalist and team recognize the likeness?
After all, it's spooky.
Contact Laura Reiley at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.