Alton Brown saved Tampa’s Supernatural Food & Wine a year ago, so the shop is celebrating by raising money for charity

Proceeds from a special edition t-shirt will go to Metropolitan Ministries.

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click to enlarge The Alton Brown shrine at Supernatural Food & Wine in Tampa, Florida. - Photo by Ray Roa
Photo by Ray Roa
The Alton Brown shrine at Supernatural Food & Wine in Tampa, Florida.
Last year around Gasparilla, Supernatural Food & Wine founder and chef Wesley Roderick was pretty sure his sandwich shop would be closed within eight months.

The tiny restaurant—located at 305 E Polk St. in downtown Tampa behind The Hub—wasn’t making money and would stay on that path if it kept operating at the standard Roderick set for himself and his team.

“It was crazy dead. I had no enthusiasm, and I was totally undercutting all of my standards because I was desperate,” he told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

So when the parade came around he lowered the bar and made shitty, half-ass sandwiches to schlep for whoever came through the door. Then some regulars came in and called him out.

“They were all excited to come, and they were like, “Oh, this isn’t what you normally serve,” Roderick explained. “I was super embarrassed—it was fucked up.”

So he said fuck it, resolved to never sell garbage and just make the best food possible until the money ran out.  Two weeks later, celebrity chef Alton Brown—rehearsing for a tour kickoff in Tampa—came in, ordered a breakfast sandwich, then went on social media to call the bacon, egg and cheese the “best breakfast sandwich ever.” A day later, Brown confirmed his opinion, telling Creative Loafing Tampa Bay the sandwich was, The best I’ve had… the best ever.”

“If I had not made that mental switch, and he had come in, it could have been a whole different picture,” Roderick added. Since that day, business at Supernatural has quadrupled. The kitchen staff has doubled.

“It was a lifeline,” he said of the endorsement.

So to celebrate, and to say thank you to all the customers, Supernatural will celebrate on Sunday, Feb. 18 by releasing a special edition t-shirt featuring a logo of Alton Brown in Tampa, designed by former Supernatural cook (and Now & Then coffee founder Davy Ball). Proceeds from sales will go to Metropolitan Ministries.

“At this point all I can say is  'thank you' to everyone who has been a part of the past year,” Roderick wrote on social media. “I couldn’t do it without you all and wouldn’t want to anyways.”

About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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