Gold Standard, Silver Ring

click to enlarge SAME AS IT EVER WAS: Tim Booth with the Silver Ring Cuban. - Valerie Troyano
Valerie Troyano
SAME AS IT EVER WAS: Tim Booth with the Silver Ring Cuban.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Silver Ring Café, an Ybor landmark that just returned to Ybor.

"In 1996 they raised our rent astronomically," explains owner Tim Booth from Silver Ring's new digs at the corner of 14th Street and Seventh Avenue. "I just wasn't going to pay it." This was during Ybor's boom time, when serious redevelopment money started pouring into the district. Expectations were astronomical, but some businesses, even fixtures that had been serving Ybor for almost 50 years, couldn't make the transition.

Silver Ring was opened in 1947 by Angelo Cacciatore, who made a name for the place by serving Cuban sandwiches that rivaled — or topped — the best in town. When Booth's dad opened a meatpacking company in 1957, Cacciatore was his first customer.

Tim Booth used to deliver meat to Silver Ring for his father. "Angelo would give me a devil crab and a beer," he says. Over the years he drew close to Cacciatore, and when the patriarch was ready to retire in 1985, he sold the restaurant to Booth.

The first Silver Ring stood on the spot now occupied by La Tropicana. After the original building burned down, Cacciatore moved the business up the street a few blocks. After the rent increase in 1996, Booth moved the place downtown and franchised locations around the Bay area.

Now, Silver Ring is back on Seventh Avenue (rents are now more realistic, according to Booth), and all but two of the outlying locations are closed. "We lost those to divorces," he confides. "People get divorced, and nobody gets nothing."

But the family ties at Ybor's Silver Ring remain strong. Booth owns the place with wife Kellee and daughters Lindsey and Ashley, who recently moved to Ybor to be closer to the restaurant. In the old days, that would have concerned Booth, but "things have changed a lot since 1985. It's a safer place now."

One thing that hasn't changed is Silver Ring's Cuban. Tim derides the selection around town, with special jeers for the people who experiment with the classic sandwich. "Baloney and yellow cheese!" he snorts in disbelief. His sandwich is the same as it was 61 years ago. "I don't change anything unless they quit making it."

Recent additions to Silver Ring's menu include soups and a few different sandwiches, as well as a beer and wine license expected to be in place by press time. Booth downplays all that, though. At Silver Ring, the Cuban is king.

Restaurant Row: Ybor City

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