DOWNTOWN TAMPA— Ever since Michael Hooker saw pictures in a Havana, Cuba, history museum of the legendary Jose Marti a few years ago, the former Ybor City resident felt more connected to Tampa's social identity and history.
The photos of Marti posing in Tampa cigar factories prompted her to research the Cuban hero's relationship with Tampa, as well as the city's historical lineage with los lectores, the readers who entertained factory workers while they rolled cigars.
Her intrigue grew about los lectores, who read the daily newspapers in multiple languages, recited poetry, great works of literature and even comical dramas.
Around the same time, Hooker discovered natural wine.
Hooker got married at a vineyard and quickly recognized how everyone had such a great time enjoying a beautiful landscape, and bonding and creating memories over wine.
These experiences along with her passion for the environment inspired Hooker to open Lector Social Club, a small space to honor Tampa's history and combine natural wine with books.
"I saw this intersection with all these worlds that I'm interested in come together." Hooker said.
The small wine shoppe covers just over 500 square feet features a small stage open to local authors or musicians. It also holds a lending library with more than 800 donated books designed to create literary pairings with each wine in the store.
With Lector Social Club, Hooker aims to cultivate a hub for social exchange whether that is a listening room or wine shop, and make natural wine healthier, affordable and accessible to a larger audience of people that are interested.
Lector Social Club sells a bottle for $18 on average and offers a $49 membership that comes with two bottles of wine paired with a book or small piece of literature.
Why drink natural wine?
It is farmed organically so it is free of pesticides, it is produced with little intervention in the field and in the bottle, and there are no additives or processing aids used.
Lector Wine Club also runs its own artist residency program offering writers, artists, musicians, poets temporary lodging located within a few miles from its intimate stage downtown.
Its hours of operation are from noon to 8 p.m. everyday and it's located at 305 E Polk St between Franklin Street and Florida Avenue. For more information visit lectorsocialclub.com.
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