Amy Scherzer, Times Staff Writer

Amy Scherzer

Amy joined the Times in January 2002 to help launch the weekly City Times edition serving South Tampa and nearby neighborhoods. Her column, Amy Scherzer's Diary, takes readers along as she makes her rounds on the social circuit. Camera in hand, Amy captures the galagoers, wine tasters, Gasparilla kings, debutantes and bay area philanthropists.

Amy earned her bachelor's degree in mass communications and political science at the University of Pittsburgh, and has been a Tampa resident since 1978. She and her husband, Robert, live on Davis Islands, proud parents of two grown children. Any free time is spent people watching, entertaining, boating and reading.

Phone: (813) 226-3332

Fax: (813) 226-3381


  1. Longtime dress shop owner, 90, retiring; store closing



    Every cocktail dress and wedding gown, veil and tiara — everything is marked down for final sale as Helen Cabrera prepares to close her N Armenia Avenue dress shop.

    Customers flock, but not just to shop. The reduced prices are certainly a draw, but they also come to thank the fashionable lady who has dressed them for special occasions for 43 years.

    "I love beauty and elegance," says Cabrera, who turns 91 next month and is still in command. Since recovering from colon surgery two years ago, she has continued to work at her eponymous shop five days a week....

    Helen Cabrera’s dress shop, 5110 N Armenia Ave., Tampa, is offering sale prices on its remaining inventory. A liquidator is likely to buy whatever is left.
  2. Mediterranean cuisine, simply mac and cheese, a new salon and event decor


    DAVIS ISLANDS — Downtown Davis Islands' popular dining corner's newest incarnation, Fountain Square Mediterranean Cuisine, combines "the best of 14 countries on the Mediterranean Sea," says owner Alex Chouri, naming some of his Lebanese, Greek and Italian specialities. Previous tenants at the East Davis Boulevard restaurant include a deli (Freid's), a Cuban cafe (Pipo's), Chez Bryce (French cuisine) and Bailey's (southern comfort fare)....

  3. From This Day: Mom's dress, Gran's spirit, one happy couple


    TARPON SPRINGS — Even before they met in person, Stephanie Collins already thought Greg Becker was an unusually patient man.

    Maybe because as an auto mechanic he's attuned to listening for pings and grinds. Maybe from living with his ailing grandmother the last year of her life.

    "It took him two months of chattering on a dating website to convince me to come out and meet him," she said, his perseverance noted....

    Collins family photo Amy Collins was married in the wedding dress long before her daughter Stephanie Collins Becker.
  4. Palma Ceia gifts shops merge; the Perk's of hot doughnuts, South Tampa Fit moves


    PALMA CEIA — Two South Dale Mabry Highway gifts shops, Ktjane's and Occasions, are about to get hitched.

    "It's the perfect marriage," said Katie Smith, owner of Ktjane's. Buying Occasions doubles the size of her Carriage Trade Plaza shop three blocks away.

    Smith will merge Occasions inventory of china, glassware, serving pieces and popular bridal registry with Ktjane's personalized gifts, invitations, stationery and jewelry....

  5. Buckets Grill opens, music shop expands, art store relocates


    INTERBAY — Meatloaf, country fried steak, shrimp and cheese grits, all made to satisfy, is the main fare at Buckets Grill & Comfort Food, which opened July 1 on S Dale Mabry Highway near MacDill Air Force Base.

    Prices are low, and expectations are high to serve the military, owner Mark Sierra said.

    "If they miss a certain dish, we'll try to cook it for them," he said.

    Try the cardiac burger, if you dare: two big patties smothered in Swiss cheese and ghost pepper cheese, topped with a fried egg and bacon. Another biggie is Lefty's deep-fried chicken breast ($10.99), which covers the entire plate and comes with two side dishes, perhaps mashed potatoes and collard greens....

  6. On Davis Islands, cool new dual pools to open after makeover

    Local Government

    DAVIS ISLANDS — Six years after unsafe conditions caused the Roy Jenkins Pool to be drained and locked up, a $2.5 million renovation is about to make a big splash on Davis Islands.

    On Aug. 22, swimmers and sunbathers will find two sparkling new pools, one with five swim lanes extending 75 feet, the other kiddie-sized with colorful, interactive features and a sloped entry.

    An elevator and wheelchair lifts, along with refurbished restrooms and showers, bring the 85-year-old building at 154 Columbia Drive, opposite the Marjorie Park Yacht Basin, into compliance with federal accessibility laws....

    The old Roy Jenkins Pool building, across from the Marjorie Park Yacht Basin, will feature a second-floor pool with 75-foot lanes and another for children with a sloped entry.
  7. From This Day: Kimberly Andreu and Michael Hendee


    TAMPA — Birds of a feather flock together — so perhaps it was no surprise to Kimberly Andreu and Michael Hendee that they would be among a dozen close high school friends who would wind up together in law school at the University of Florida, Class of 2013.

    Then again, what were the odds that Kimberly and Michael, who met in geometry class at age 15, would be married 10 years later, surrounded by some of those same classmates?...

    In the decade since Kimberly Andreu and Michael Hendee were lovestruck 15-year-olds, they’ve graduated from college and earned law degrees. Several high school classmates witnessed that journey, many celebrating the May 17 wedding at Palma Ceia Golf and Country Club.
  8. IV drips energize, Tennis Plaza aces Westshore, Stained Market repurposes in Seminole Heights


    PALMA CEIA — Need a pick-me-up? Anesthesiologist Uhuru Smith offers a variety of therapeutic IV drips to rehydrate and energize at HangIVer Bar on Manhattan Avenue.

    Clients' vital signs are checked at the spa-like office to be sure they medically qualify for hydration treatments. They sign a consent waiver and a nurse or paramedic injects vitamins, amino acids and fluids to fight fatigue, nausea, pain and dehydration. ...

  9. Everybody's Business for July 18: salon, pizza and CDB's


    WEST SHORE DISTRICT — No hair cutting, no hair coloring — just wash, blow and go: That's the speedy salon appeal of Blo Blow Dry Bar.

    Cynthia Keenan and husband Brian, a Tampa banker, will open Blo Blow, their first franchise and the international chain's 44th, on July 25 in MetWest International, near Cooper's Hawk Winery & Restaurant in the West Shore district.

    Choose from seven hairstyles for $40, said Cynthia, who is known for her photography, interior decorating and graphic design work. Prices rise to $55 for extensions and $65 for up-dos. Offsite services, Blo on the Go, are available for weddings and other events at $75 per style....

  10. $900,000 community effort will transform ugly Swann Avenue Pond

    Human Interest


    Yucky, mucky Swann Avenue Pond will soon undergo a million-dollar transformation into the Hyde Park Gateway.

    In the fall, the block between Rome and Packwood avenues will be extensively landscaped and enclosed in wrought-iron estate fencing. The overgrown retention pond will be cleaned out and centered with a lighted fountain. New sidewalks will be poured and existing paths widened. Two shaded shelters and nine benches will be installed, including one painted red to thank a major donor to the project. ...

     The Swann Avenue retention pond gets a million dollar makeover to include cleaning and sidewalk widening, a new wrought iron fence, benches, shade structures and a fountain.
  11. London Philips dresses up SoHo, Inside the Box serves West Shore, SoHo Juice opens


    HYDE PARK — Manhattan SoHo style has arrived in Tampa's own SoHo with the opening of menswear boutique London Philips on Howard Avenue just north of Bayshore Boulevard.

    Married co-owners Sasha Fruitticher and Tampa native John Yodzis display shirts, slacks, shorts, T-shirts, swimwear, sunglasses and other accessories, featuring such labels as Gant Rugger, Jack Spade, Billy Reid and Shipley & Halmos....

  12. From This Day: Mideastern magic brings couple together


    TAMPA — Just another night serving hummus and shawarma, thought Natalie Fulcher, as she ferried Mideastern favorites to diners at Byblos Cafe in South Tampa.

    Just another night until it became Some Enchanted Evening when a stranger saw her across the crowded room.

    Natalie noticed Kuwaiti native Waleed Al Husain, 47, noticing her that night in April 2013. "But I wasn't his server and we never spoke."...

    Natalie Fulcher noticed Waleed Al Husain noticing her working at Byblos Cafe in South Tampa when he dined with an international contingent working from MacDill Air Force Base.
  13. Neighbors wary of private school's planned expansion


    BAYSHORE BEAUTIFUL — A severe lack of parking and a call to expand performing and visual art extracurriculars on a small campus are causing growing pains between the Academy of the Holy Names and its surrounding neighbors.

    Academy president Arthur Raimo strove to avoid an adversarial tone at a recent meeting with community members when he presented plans for the southwest corner of the school's property: a performing and visual arts center adjacent to a 230-space parking garage topped with an athletic deck....

    A rendering shows the parking garage with sports courts on the top level that is part of an expansion plan at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa’s Bayshore Beautiful neighborhood.
  14. Squeeze juices Hyde Park; Cigar City Outpost opens at MacDinton's, Hip Hop blooms near West Shore


    HYDE PARK — Squeeze Juice Works brings its selection of organic, cold-pressed juices, cleanses and healthy foods to Hyde Park on July 1. Owner Kelly Lessem and partners Amy Losoya and Mike Indrigo chose the corner of S Boulevard and Platt Street for their second location because of its proximity to "south Tampa walkers, University of Tampa students, hospital workers and easy access to Selmon Expressway," Lessem said....

  15. Three restaurants open, one in evicted BB&T space


    DOWNTOWN TAMPA — Downtown diners have waited nearly six years for a restaurant to reopen on the ground floor of the BB&T Bank at Ashley Drive and Madison Street.

    By late July, they'll find Nature's Table serving "healthy fast food" in 1,200 of the 5,000 square feet occupied by Lucky Dill until its September 2008 eviction.

    It will be the fifth Nature's Table location for franchisees John and Cindy Olejnik, working with their children, executive chef Jonathan and general manager Heather....

    Anise Global Gastrobar in the Skypoint Condominium has expanded, just 15 months after opening, to include the space vacated next door by Five Guys. It’ll triple the kitchen size.