It’s difficult to imagine being more Tampa than City Councilwoman Yvonne “Yolie” Capin.
The third-generation native has made a point of getting a feel for all of the city’s neighborhoods, especially since being appointed to her citywide seat in 2010 (and elected soon thereafter). What’s most important to her, she said, is that these neighbohoods maintain the attributes that give them their character. In fact, “Keep Tampa Authentic” is her email signature.
“That’s my mantra,” she says.
Capin spent much of her career owning and operating a local jewelry store, but is now retired. Although she calls herself a homebody, she has almost too many haunts to list.
Required viewing: TAMPA THEATRE. “I think everything they do is first rate. It’s come a long way.”
Places that have been there forever, and for a damn good reason: LA SEGUNDA CENTRAL. “It’s a bakery that produces the only bread you should use for a Cuban sandwich… It’s called the second because the first one burned down. It’s a hundred years [old] this year.” Runners-up: Hugo’s in Hyde Park, La Teresita in West Tampa.
Best stroll: DeSOTO PARK in PALMETTO BEACH. “Beautiful, beautiful park; really mature trees.”
Best bird’s-eye views: TAMPA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT. “I love going to the airport. Really. The top floor of the parking garage. It’s peaceful, and then it isn’t when the flights are coming in and taking off. It’s really amazing to watch those airplanes go in and out. I love going up there. I [also] like the Courtney Campbell Causeway. I know a lot of people use it for commuting. If you really drive it, it’s quite beautiful.”
Best place to talk politics: THE WEST TAMPA SANDWICH SHOP. “Every presidential candidate that comes through Tampa may not stop at Mise en Place, but they’re definitely going to stop at the West Tampa Sandwich Shop. It’s a hotbed… Along Tampa Bay Boulevard, there must be about four different sandwich [or] coffee shops, and I try to go to one or the other maybe every couple of months. And you will see these people sitting outside, and that’s what they’re doing; they’re debating politics.”
Best place to be anonymous: THE CANOPY at the BIRCHWOOD. “I go to the top [Canopy] and not a lot of people know who I am there. I have sat on the street… on Beach Drive, they have those sidewalk cafes. And I stopped doing that because people would say, ‘Hi, Yolie, how you doing?’ Not that I mind, but the people I’m with get interrupted.”
Where to see “snow”: SNOW ON 7TH. “The part that is so wonderful about this parade is thousands of children, thousands of children. They have snow machines coming off the balconies. They had reindeers for the kids to pet. They had hot chocolate. But the most important part, I think, is that they had 15 high school marching bands…”
Best hotel to put up a famous feminist writer: DON VICENTE DE YBOR HISTORIC INN. “I remember I hosted Gloria Steinem back in 2004 the entire day, picked her up at the airport. She spoke at USF… We were talking about where to house her overnight, and they were talking about four-star hotels, whatever. I said, you know, she stays at those whenever she wants. We housed her at the Don Vicente in Ybor City and she just loved it.”
Best way to hone a new skill: TAMPA PARKS & RECREATION ARTS CLASSES. “They have jewelry-making… they have pottery, they have painting, glassblowing. It’s a real discovery to find that in Tampa’s Parks and Rec.”
Best night on the town: DINNER at ULELE followed by dive-bar-hopping at THE HUB and the TINY TAP. “I love getting out there. I can always meet the corporate president and the rest of them, but [this is a way to] really meet the constituents on all levels.”
Where to get a hefty breakfast: ARCO IRIS. “It means ‘Rainbow’ in Spanish, and I always refer to it as the Rainbow restaurant. It’s this little place on Habana, and it’s a working man’s breakfast.”
Where to find the coolest jewelry: GASPARILLA FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS. “You will find incredibly unusual pieces there. Also, the craft shows. I think those people really put themselves out in their designs.”
Artists to look out for: BRUCE MARSH (painter), CHARLES LYMAN (filmmaker), DAVID AUDET (photographer).
Less crowded — but still very worthy — art gallery: HCC YBOR ART GALLERY. “It’s outstanding, what [Gallery Director Caroline Kossar] brings to that small venue.”
Best thing about the future: Improved relations with Cuba. “What a lot of people don’t know and don’t realize is that, in Cuba, in their history classes, they study Tampa. We have an incredible connection to that country. It is a 60-minute flight to this exotic time-warp, well-educated island that we had a very strong history with in Tampa. And I believe that Tampa Bay will benefit from open trade in Cuba.”
Want more Ask the Locals? Follow the links to find address and contact info for the Locals' favorite destinations, and to read interviews from Spring 2014 and Fall 2014.