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Undercover Boss brings welcomed attention to Tampa businesses

Rocket Fizz Tampa owner Marianne Banales displays a bottle Joby Joe’s Root Beer Float, a soda sold at Rocket Fizz stores across the nation to honor her late brother. Rocket Fizz founder Rob Powells created the flavor after meeting Banales through an episode of Undercover Boss.
Published Dec. 30, 2016

TAMPA — Artists and teachers across Tampa Bay will gather at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday night in Painting with A Twist locations to see the company featured on Undercover Boss.

The watch parties will begin with a painting prior to the screening of the show at 8 p.m. on CBS affiliate WTSP-Ch. 10.

Though Painting with a Twist co-founder and CFO Renne Maloney did not go undercover at locations in the Tampa Bay area, the watch parties provide an opportunity for guests to come in and experience the show with the artists.

Before going undercover as 'Savannah,' Maloney wondered if their brand was being represented properly, if their customers were enjoying themselves and if the franchises embodied Painting with a Twist's founding principle: giving back to the community.

"I hope viewers really see as a brand we really care about our customers, our artists and our franchises," Maloney said. "We started after Hurricane Katrina because we needed to give back to our community. It's a fun night out, but it's so much more than that. It's so much more than the almighty dollar, it's about making a difference."

Clara Wiersma, the studio manager of the South Tampa Painting with a Twist first identified with the principles the company was founded on and the mentality of giving back.

As studio manager, her responsibilities can range from teaching classes both public and private, private fundraisers for non-profits and working with the community and the South Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

Wednesday night will be the first time employees see the episode.

"I think they'll be surprised that anybody can do it," Wiersma said. "Anybody can walk through the door and do it: men, women and children can do it and leave with a masterpiece."

Watch parties also will be held at Painting With A Twist locations in Carrollwood, Westchase and Brandon.

Two years ago, Rocket Fizz Tampa owner Marianne Banales got the surprise of a lifetime when Undercover Boss featured her soda and candy shop.

She never thought just six months after opening her franchise in Carrollwood's Grand Plaza center at 14365 Dale Mabry Highway, she would be featured on a national television show.

On the episode, Banales revealed to founder Rob Powells she had lost her brother suddenly. Powells connected with her, as he revealed he had experienced the sudden loss of his girlfriend. At the reveal, Powells gifted Banales a special soda in honor of her brother, "Joby Joe's Root Beer Float," which is now sold at Rocket Fizz stores across the country.

After the show aired, Banales said she anticipated the store would get a little busier, but what actually happened she did not at all expect.

She was at her son's basketball game when she got a call from the store manager: she needed to get to the store right away. Not wanting to leave her son's game, she decided it could wait.

When she arrived, the line was out the door, with customers expressing excitement about seeing the company on the episode.

Powells so appreciated how Banales was running her Dale Mabry franchise, that the company worked with her to open two more locations in Florida: one in Lakeland, and another in Wesley Chapel in the Shops at Wiregrass.

Like Painting with a Twist, Rocket Fizz is a business that believes in giving back to the community. Since Undercover Boss aired, more opportunities to partner with the community have presented themselves to Banales. She enjoys participating in Relay for Life, and going to the local schools to hand out free soda coupons for good report cards.

Contact Brianna Kwasnik at bkwasnik@tampabay.com.

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