Creative Loafing Tampa Bay's most read Food & Drink stories of 2021

Bo's knows you love the place.

click to enlarge Bo's Ice Cream at 7101 N Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida. - Colin Wolf
Colin Wolf
Bo's Ice Cream at 7101 N Florida Ave., Tampa, Florida.
You screamed for ice cream when Bo's hit a rough patch this year, but that wasn't all Creative Loafing Tampa Bay foodie fans were into this year. Besides the always-debated Best of the Bay awards, readers all wanted to know about openings and closings, which we'll continue to write about in 2022.

Tampa's iconic Bo's Ice Cream reopens after temporarily closing due to family emergency

Meet Josh Vitte in person and you can feel how much he loves the family business. In August, we found out how much the community loved it, too, when Seminole Heights' iconic Bo's Ice Cream temporarily closed due to a tragedy in the family. The shop reopened within a week, but well wishes and monetary help rolled in for employees left without paychecks for a few days. "A lot of people reached out over the weekend, and the outpouring from the community was tremendous. Some of them asked if we started a GoFundMe, and I had honestly never thought of that," Vitte told Creative Loafing Tampa Bay.

Tampa's new Rosie the Riveter-themed bar opened on Dale Mabry

As an ode to Rosie the Riveter, servers sport red bandanas and denim tops and are referred to as the bar's "Rosies." A rep for the restaurant told CL in January that male employees wear more military and tactical uniforms. "The idea is that the Rosies are in charge here," the rep said. The spot is located at 2301 N Dale Mabry Highway, right next to 2001 Odyssey.

St. Pete's famous Biff Burger closed, and everything was for sale at auction

Since the mid-1950's Tampa Bay's last remaining Biff Burger has been slinging milkshakes, patty melts and iconic flame-broiled burgers out of its 5,000 square-foot building featuring the concept's original W-shaped roof and checkered exterior. Unfortunately, those days are history as the last Biff Burger location in Tampa Bay is closed, with all remaining assets— including signs, decor, and kitchen equipment—auctioned off early this month. Owners said they'd be back, and we'll let you know when and if that happens.

South Tampa's Cake Drip bakery reopened after closing in face of harassment

Hyde Park Village's Cake Drip reopened last month after harassment from neighbors forced the boutique bakery and dessert shop to temporarily close. Owner Faronda Davis was hoping to get her store moved to a different location, but it seems that is not happening. Davis told CL that Cake Drip is the only Black-owned business in Hyde Park Village, and added that upstairs residents have complained that the business's music is too loud since she opened in March. (Nearby Social Status has POC ownership, but is two blocks away.)

Davis previously told CL she thinks it goes beyond the sound. Especially after a neighbor was caught on video berating Davis and her daughter. The video was captured after the neighbor allegedly entered Cake Drip, was told to leave, yelled at the employees, called Davis a "Black bitch" and then hit Davis. "I had to get an attorney because I feel like I've been bullied and I've been dealing with this since the day I moved in," Davis said. "I don't think it's about music."

Citrus Park favorite Ballyhoo Grill closed in September

Ballyhoo said it wasn't able to renegotiate a new lease on a restaurant building that dates back to the mid-'90s. The Florida seafood restaurant was opened by Chris Fargale of City Fish and Ozona Blue fame, who owned two other Ballyhoos in Tarpon Springs and Gainesville. The current owners took over 12 years ago. Some form of Ballyhoo Grill has sat at the corner of Ehrlich Road and Gunn Highway since the 1910s. "It was built in 1913," Randy Grasmann, then-president of Ballyhoo Grill told the Tampa Bay Times back in 1996. "It was a home that was converted into a restaurant more than 20 years ago."

After $4.5 million makeover, Tampa's Eden nightclub opened downtown

Turns out you all were glad to see Franklin Manor wiped off the map. In August, Eden owners Asad Yusupov and Kevin Stowe, of the Phoenix Hospitality Group, cut the ribbon on their themed nightclub featuring three sections (Hades, The Ark, garden of Eden) plus hyper-colored vines, flowers and trees for days.

Tampa Bay "American Chopper" superfans now have a shrine in Pinellas Park

OCC Road House & Museum—a restaurant and entertainment that is a joint venture between Paul Teutul Sr. of Orange County Choppers and local hospitality giant Keith Overton—opened in June. In phone call, Overton told CL that while the mailing address—10575 49th St N—is technically in Clearwater, OCC Road House & Museum is in Pinellas Park. His and Teutul's 11,000-square-foot space broke ground a year ago and includes a restaurant serving up classic American-style food with indoor and outdoor seating.

Michelin stars are finally coming to Tampa restaurants

The famed tire company's revered restaurant guide is coming to Tampa—but not St. Pete and the surrounding Bay area. The deal was cut between Michelin and three tourism entities representing Tampa, Orlando and Miami. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but reps for Visit Florida told the Miami Herald that it paid Michelin just a fraction of the $600,000 California paid to sponsor a new restaurant guide in Miami, Tampa, Orlando. For some reason, despite public money being used to foot the bill, Visit Florida won't share the documents and details of the deal with the press.

After 33-year wait, Pasco County finally gets its second Hooters

It's been a long time coming for Pasco; the county's first Hooters opened on the waterfront of Port Richey's way back in 1988. (Any good Tampeño knows that the original opened on Clearwater's Gulf to Bay Blvd. in 1983.) The new location, in Odessa at State Road 54 and Suncoast Crossings, boasts almost 5,000-sq.-ft. dining room with an additional 800 sq. ft outside, covered seating.

Earth Fare returns to Tampa Bay

In February 2020, Earth Fare announced the closure of all locations, but in January 2021, it said that the store would actually reopen in Seminole City Center where it first opened in the Bay area.

Spring Hill restaurant goes viral (online) after saying masks, or "face diapers," are not allowed

In February, despite Florida outpacing the nation for a new highly-contagious coronavirus variant, a Tampa Bay area restaurant wants guests to know that face masks aren't required. BeckyJack's Food Shack in Spring Hill went viral on social media, after posting a photo to its Facebook page that reads "Face Diapers Not Required Everyone Welcome."

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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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