Monday, April 23, 2007

"An Unwelcome Reception"

St. Pete Times today....

Some residents feel like they are becoming the outsiders as the Hispanic population increases in their neighborhoods.

TAMPA - The news made neighborhood gossip as soon as it hit the popular Seminole Heights blog:

Viva la Frida, the beloved neighborhood landmark with the outdoor concerts, poetry readings and colorful kitsch, was gone.

Rumor has it it was bought by a clan of Hondurans, a blogger wrote in early February.

For the rest of the article go to:


cristi said...

I'm glad Randy didn't get elected to City Council if he supports chain restaurants (Chili's) in the neighborhood vs locally/family-owned mom-and-pop restaurants. I would hate to see us looking like another Fowler Avenue.

SH@ME said...

I agree, this isn't the first time Randy has been more supportive of corporate business coming to S.H. We must watch out for this! If he had his way, we'd have a chain on every corner!

ranbar said...

Cristi and SH@ME,

Actually, I do support "mom & pops". Just ask Mike Merino (Merino's Deli), Scooter Gabel (Cappy's), or Greg Smith (building a sports pub on North & Nebraska), to name a few.

The context of the quote that you find objectionable had more to do with a type of restaurant than a particular brand. I was pointing out to the reporter that there is no place (chain or mom&pop) offering inexpensive pub-type food in the neighborhood (as opposed to the influx of hispanic restaurants that was the focus of the article) and I happened to use Chili’s to illustrate the type of fare I was talking about. Indeed, after the Front Porch changed to a more upscale dinner menu a couple of years ago, those of us who wanted a cheap bite to eat and a drink after OSHNA board meetings would have to go out of the neighborhood to either Friday’s (chain) or Rick’s on the River (mom&pop).

If you give me a place in the neighborhood that is open past 9:00pm, provides a consistent dining experience (both quality and service) and offers burgers, wings, salads etc at a decent price with a good beer and wine variety, I'll be there, no matter who owns it. And I think the neighborhood will be there too. Now that The Front Porch has returned to offering burgers and wings on the dinner menu, it may again satisfy this need. However, the point was that even with The Front Porch, or Cappy’s, which closes at 9:00pm on weekdays, the largest neighborhood in the city has only a couple of those types of establishments compared to over a dozen hispanic restaurants.

As for the comment of supporting corporate business, I suppose you mean Starbucks. Yes, I did support Starbucks, along with the overwhelming majority of the neighborhood. In addition to offering consistent, quick service (unlike other mom & pop coffee shops that have come and gone, all of which I supported), Starbucks also signaled that Seminole Heights could support a substantial commercial investment for a residential serving business, whether by chain or mom & pop. Unfortunately, as has been pointed out in other posts on this blog, it is becoming increasingly unfeasible for "mom & pops" to succeed, given the investment necessary.

Finally, Cristi, it is interesting that you used Fowler as an example. When I was one of the people leading the fight to oppose the proposed Walgreens on Florida & Sligh (a project that would have required tearing down homes and closing Elm Street while providing a generic building and a sea of asphalt), I encouraged City Council to prevent the “Fowlerization of Florida Avenue”. Look it up, it's in the record.

Randy Baron

Michelle said...

I understood what Randy's point was in the article, it may not have been loud and clear, but I got it because I know what Randy has done.
The real issue of this article is that it is making Seminole Heights residents look like Klan memebers. An obviously far cry from the reality.

NewHeightsMag said...

For sure, Zayas seems like a terrible reporter. Comments taken out of context and skewed to draw a conclusion that simply isn't true. What's Zayas got against S.H.???

Jaed said...

This article portrays the residents of Seminole Heights as ethnically intolerant. I couldn't believe my eyes.
People with "concerns" over the type of restaurant or the variety of food they offer this is such an example of poor reporting I hope this is clear to thee reader. A co-worker brought article to my attention and said - " and you live in that neighborhood?" I'm glad to see Randy explaining the rest of his comments here - the reporter placed his comments in rather obviously to cast conflicting information what agenda is Zayas serving?

I wrote the following comment - it is a bit over the top for my taste and more in reaction to the article's obvious slant against Seminole Heights - lets say I was inspired to vent.

North Americans, Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Hondurans, Koreans and other immigrants, who are living out their dreams by opening up their own business in this community are the strength of Tampa. We should be honored to have them - without the restaurants serving the community, what are we left with on Florida and Nebraska? One-hour motels, used cars and parts, pawn shops and light industry. Please realize that local business owners running their own workshops, stores and restaurants create a stronger community for us all to live in. We should be encouraging local private ownership rather than promoting the corporate blandness that is so endemic to the new suburbs. We live in the middle of Tampa not Brandon, not New Tampa, not Westchase. I would expect that more people would feel insulted by a Chili's building on the corner of Hanna and Central than the international fare at Rincon Catracho. When we were there they had three guys singing and playing guitars in the restaurant when we were there - our daughters loved it! I personally understood three or four phrases out of those campesino serenades - but everyone else was having a blast singing along. As the article states - English is no problem the staff are very friendly and helpful and I can’t even tell you how much we enjoyed the food.
To everyone who contributed their simple lack of sensitivity or blatant intolerance to that article - I hope they open their eyes and ears a bit and look at the history of Tampa. We are stronger for diversity and multi-culturalism. I feel better knowing that my children will grow up in an international community here in America with (North, South, Central and Caribbean) Americans than out in the Stepford-esque landscape elsewhere.

For what it is worth -

NewHeightsMag said...

Again -- read the previous blog entries and replies the reporter is referring to. Zayas took comments 100% out of context to fit the negative (and frankly "slanderous") story s/he pre-created in her/his head.

Got to face it though -- a story about people seeking diversity in dining options throughout their neighborhood will not draw nearly as many readers as a story about a racially diverse and friendly neighborhood supposedly turning against Hispanics.

As a 15-year vet to the journalism industry, I am very disappointed in the reporter's abuse of her/his position with the St. Pete Times.

Begs the question: How many other stories has Zayas purposely botched?