Check out my Transforming Tampa Bay column this week on the new LGBT Welcome Center that will occupy a historic bungalow in St. Pete's diverse Grand Central District. There's a fascinating story behind the previous occupant of the house, too.
Tampa Bay’s newest craft brewery, 3 Daughters, opens Saturday, December 14. They held sneak preview for a few hundred friends and supporters Thursday night.
Located in a former municipal plumbing supply building at 222 22nd St. S in the emerging Warehouse Arts District, 3 Daughters Brewing is the brainchild of Bella Brava co-owner Mike Harting. It includes a 30-barrel brewhouse (twice the size of Cigar City Brewing’s when it opened nearly five years ago), a 2,000-square-foot tasting room and plenty of room to expand.
Nearly two years after closing, friends of the Globe Coffee Lounge reunited for a day of food, coffee drinks and dessert. The Local 662 on Central Avenue's 600 Block hosted the one-day-only "pop-up."
Former Globe owner/coffee maven JoEllen Schilke whipped up sheets of Supa-Fudgey brownies, orders of her infamous Sloppy JoEllen sandwiches, and plenty of chai lattes. There were, of course, plenty of pies.
The first sign of trouble showed up on Cycle Brewing’s Facebook page. Soon, similar messages were appearing on influential online craft beer boards.
Something was seriously wrong with Rare D.O.S., the bourbon-barrel-aged stout that earned brewer Doug Dozark world acclaim in craft beer circles. Ranked as high as 11th best beer in the world by beeradvocate.com reviewers., the latest batch of Rare D.O.S. (Doug’s Original Stout) was released in June during a special event at Peg’s Cantina, where Dozark began his brewing career on a nano system out back.
It sold out in less than a week, all 150 gallons, and $20 a 16-ounce growler. People bought them by the case, many to trade with craft beer friends.
But it wasn’t long before the online beer-trading community was writing things like this on beeradvocate.com:
“So. Either this is infected, or just plain bad. I know this beer is supposed to be good, but I’m not getting it. It smelled a little tart, and it tasted fairly tart. Left like a tinny, chemical feel on my tongue. I’d try this again, hoping that it’s just a 1-time infection issue, but it’s bad. Buyer beware with the recent batch.”
The howls came from Alaska to Massachusetts to the Netherlands. Emails, too, from dissatisfied customers seeking recompense.
It couldn’t have come at a worse time for Dozark, who was working overtime to open his second brewery, in downtown St. Petersburg, He would spend the next weeks losing sleep and trying to make amends and protect his signature brand.
St. Petersburg's 500 Block was a brim with vintage motorcycles, hot rods, Volkswagen buses, and even an old Morris Minor. At 7 p.m., Sake Bomb's third annual Scorpio Vintage Rides and Art Show block party was still jamming eight hours after it started. Pinup girls bopped through the crowd sporting coiffed victory rolls, cat-lined eyes, form-fitting threads and high stilettos.
Not long after grabbing a sake martini and a beer from the bar, I was startled by the sound of a motorcycle engine revving nearby. It sounded so close, it had to be indoors. When I turned around, I could see Sake Bomb owner Tai "Swank" Truong straddled across a soon-to-be-raffled yellow Honda cx500 Cafe Racer. He revved the engine again, and owner Tom Truong popped up holding the box of raffle tickets. The crowd roared.
One lucky winner would be driving the bike home. After the first ticket picked failed to produce a winner, two minutes were put on the clock before another ticket was drawn. Again, no one stepped forward and another two minutes went on the clock. The air was electric, as Swank continued revving the engine and the crowd teetered between excited and angry. Finally, the third time was the charm, with motorcycle raffle winner Jeff Fox making his way to his new ride, climbing aboard and revving the engine once again. Everyone clapped and cheered, getting over the sting knowing they would not be claiming this prize.
But I was there on another mission.
St. Petersburg’s pioneering waterfront parks need to be kept from private development and enhanced for public use.
An Innovation District should be created to recognize and support the marine sciences, health care and education economy on the south end of downtown.
The city should consider supporting the creation of a downtown development corporation that is a public-private partnership to focus on Pier redevelopment, optimizing Al Lang Field and improving access to Bayshore Drive.
These recommendations highlighted a two-hour presentation Friday morning by the Urban Land Institute, as it wrapped up a week-long study of planning and land use in the waterfront district.
An Urban Land Institute panel is in St. Petersburg this week meeting with stakeholders to develop recommendations for developing the downtown waterfront.
But the eight-member panel’s visit is raising questions, at least privately, among some city council members.
“Other than the parking lot near the City Pier approach, I was not aware that our waterfront needed redevelopment,” said one council member after a chamber-hosted cocktail reception Monday for the panel.
A spike in federal flood insurance rates for about 70,000 policy holders in the Tampa Bay area is not a partisan issue. The Republican homeowner in Shore Acres will get hit just as hard as the retired Democrat who owns a condo on Indian Rocks Beach.
But whether Congress chooses to act swiftly to delay or roll back premium increases, which take effect Tuesday, Oct. 1, is being drawn along party lines.
“My legislation to fix this is being blocked right now by partisan politics and those who oppose a completely different bill, the health care bill," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, said Monday. "So what we’re trying to do is to get bipartisan support to join us to pass a clean bill as soon as we can to delay those rate increases.”
A lot is at stake for Florida, if Congress refuses to halt rate increases for policy holders in the National Flood Insurance Program. There are more property owners in Florida with the federally subsidized insurance policies than in any other state. Pinellas, Miami-Dade and Lee counties top the list.
After months of brewing and building, St. Petersburg's Green Bench Brewing Co. finally opened to the public on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m.
Green Bench won a Best of the Bay last week for turning the 1926 mechanics shop into a fully-fledged brewery (complete with tasting room, outdoor beer garden, fire pit, and growler fill station).
The second brewery in downtown St. Pete (after Cycle Brewing opened in August) is located at 1133 Baum Ave. N., St. Petersburg. They will be open until 10 p.m. Wednesday.
Look for our coverage from tonight's opening later this week.