09/18/14 Human Interest
FARA Energy Ball
A couple of chocolate Labrador puppies fetched bids of $30,000 and $35,000 each at the FARA Energy Ball, unleashing an auction frenzy that helped raise $1.8 million for the Friedreich's Ataxia Research Alliance and the USF Health Ataxia Research Center.
Between dinner and dancing to the Spazmatics' rocking hits of the '80s, another $306,000 sprang from co-chairs Tara and Tod Leiweke's "James Taylor Challenge" — two tickets to a November concert at Amalie Arena for all $1,500 donors. The top 10 givers will get backstage passes and an autographed guitar, emcee and WFTS-Ch.28 anchor Wendy Ryan announced at A La Carte Event Pavilion....
SOUTH TAMPA — Third-generation Tampa natives Rodney and Ricky Rodriguez honor Cuban national hero José Martí with a modern menu of island specialities at their new restaurant, Café Martí, which opened Sept. 4 on Gandy Boulevard, near S Dale Mabry Highway.
Martí knew their great-grandfather and wrote poems to their great-aunts, and they were surprised to learn the name wasn't already taken....
TAMPA — A simple, silly, out-of-the-box revenue opportunity, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, sure put the fun into giving money for a serious cause. Rarely is philanthropy as astonishingly successful as all those millions of video dumper donors inciting others to fund a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease.
Bucket by bucket, the social media phenomenon raised more than $110 million.
Will Doubtfire Face, the pie-in-the-face challenge inspired by the late Robin Williams' movie Mrs. Doubtfire, do as well for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention?...
TAMPA — Ceiling fans whirl over picnic tables outside the newest Holy Hog BBQ, cooling customers downing St. Louis-style ribs, smoked ham, pork, turkey, chicken, sausage, brisket and more.
"We're excited to be part of the mayor's downtown vision," said owner Danny Hernandez, who renovated a former sub shop downtown on the corner of Franklin Street and Kennedy Boulevard, opposite Lykes Gaslight Park and a block south of the police station. Thursday's opening day proceeds will be donated to two fire and police personnel support groups....
Graffiti Junktion chugs into Palma Ceia; La Sunshine Boutique dresses downtown; Premier Barber snips vets09/04/14Retail
PALMA CEIA — The early November opening of sports bar Graffiti Junktion on Bay to Bay Boulevard brings welcome renovation to a former wing joint that flew the coop long ago.
"We're giving some love to the building, which has a lot of character but needs updating," said Mike Shaw, owner of the South Tampa franchise, the eighth location for the Orlando-based chain. The first Graffiti Junktion outside of Orlando opened Monday near the University of South Florida and Shaw is scouting more area locations....
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....
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)....
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....
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....
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....
08/06/14 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....
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?...
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. ...
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....
07/17/14 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. ...