From diners to fine dining, FMoPA showcases Tampa Bay’s essential restaurant workers

‘Chef’s Special’ opens March 5 and runs through April 11.

click to enlarge Veronica Danko, owner of Independent Bar & Café - Photo by Mark Wemple
Photo by Mark Wemple
Veronica Danko, owner of Independent Bar & Café

Late last year, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts (FMoPA) put out a call asking local photographers to take pictures of chefs, owners and other behind-the-scenes essential workers who are the foundation of local restaurants. Photographers answered, and those shots will be shown in the “Chef’s Special” exhibit opening Friday, March 5.

The photographs—on display through April 11—are able two ways: in person at FMoPA starting Friday or through a self-guided window tour at the participating bars and restaurants. The restaurants taking part vary in style and locations including Three Coins Diner in Seminole Heights, Lakeland’s Palace Pizza and St. Pete’s Naked Farmer. Many Best of the Bay winners—including Cena, Haven, and everybody’s favorite vagina-forward bar Shuffle—joined in, too.

If you go to FMoPA—located in downtown Tampa’s “cube” at 400 N Ashley Dr.—reservations are required to allow for limited capacity. If you choose the self-guided tour, a map of participating restaurants is available here.

FMoPA’s mission of the exhibit is “to create a one-of-a-kind community collaboration,” to support businesses that have suffered as a result of the pandemic. Plan on eating at some, or all, of the stops if you visit the participating stores in person. Even getting a little take out or a gift card to be used later helps. 

Tickets for a single visit to FMoPA run $10, or you could get a membership for $50 that lasts all year. There is also a Friday Night at the Museum ticket option for $15 that includes hors d'oeuvres and beverages from 5 p.m.-7 p.m.

FMoPA is closed on Tuesdays, but opens at noon every other day. It closes at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 5 p.m. Saturday-Monday and Wednesday-Thursday. More information via

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About The Author

Stephanie Powers

Freelance contributor Stephanie Powers started her media career as an Editorial Assistant long ago when the Tampa Bay Times was still called the St. Petersburg Times. After stints in Chicago and Los Angeles, where she studied improvisation at Second City Hollywood, she came back to Tampa and stayed put.She soon...
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