Tom and Gisele,
Welcome home! We’re pretty outgoing and friendly here, despite the pirate-themed — well, everything. And we keep the list of places you can’t go without flip-flops pretty small since you’ll rarely be more than about five miles from the water.
We know we’ve got it as good here as anywhere: gorgeous views, a growing and fun downtown that’s easy to get to, the best beaches on earth about 30-40 minutes away (just don’t go en masse until this Covid-19 leaves, please), and you will not lack for events, festivals, fundraisers, and things to do. Except from June-August as we tend to stay inside or go visit the relatives up north around then. It’s a bit hot and moist to do much outside for too long.
But what we’ve always lacked is a smidge of glamour, and not because we don’t deserve it. Sure we’ve got Derek & Hannah, but they spend a lot of time in Miami now with the baseball team. This was an immigrant town, a factory town, then a smidge of a mafia town, but eventually we grew into this superb city in the prettiest of locales — but it’s kind of been our secret how wonderful it is. We’re the ugly duckling in high school that shows up to the 10-year reunion as the hottest guy/girl at the party. And we hope the cameras following you will help the rest of the world see what we already know. But not too many, as we don’t want everyone coming here.
As of today, you are our de facto royal couple. This comes with a serious role if you’re interested (helping tons of area charities just by your presence at the never-ending list of events and galas in town), and a fun one (we’ll be interested in where to find your favorite Cuban sandwich, and yes we take this very seriously).
As someone that sees Derek and Hannah in Starbucks reasonably often, along with John Cena, Joe Maddon, about half the WWE, and plenty of other famous folks: the locals should overwhelmingly respect your space and leave you alone. Pick the right neighborhood (Harbour Island, Davis Islands, Culbreath Isles, or something big with a tall fence) and you’ll have the run of the place without any worries.
That Gasparilla thing you keep hearing about? It’s a BIG deal. We took a one-day amphibious parade and built a four-month season with fantastic events and festivals around it. The big parade is always the weekend before the Super Bowl, so we understand you might be busy this year, but at some point we’ll need you two to grand marshal the thing.
And since we Tampanians (or Tampeños, either is fine) are very neighborly, I asked some friends to help with your transition. These are the movers and shakers around town, and they know the secrets.
Michael Kelly, Athletic Director, USF Bulls
Tom and Gisele! We’re excited that you share a stadium with the USF Bulls. You should know a “horns up” is the official handshake/greeting of Tampa Bay; that the Tampa Riverwalk is one of the greatest developments of the 21st century and perfect for your daily jogs; that Cappy’s has the best deep dish pizza in town; and that we truly have a United sports scene here with “Team Tampa Bay!” Welcome!
Jeff Gigante, Owner, Forbici Modern Italian, area restauranteur
Dine: Forbici Modern Italian (of course), Bern’s Steak House
Stay: Epicurean Hotel
Live: Palma Ceia
Brooke Palmer Kuhl, event planner at RSBP Events. Woman that puts on those galas I mentioned above
If I saw Tom and Gisele, I would suggest the following:
Eat: Bern’s Steak House. Rumor has it he was there, until he wasn’t. And Donatello, because he won’t be the only famous person there since Gino Tiozzo is renowned in this town.
Things to do: Take an e-boat around the water downtown - it’s super fun and the river is gorgeous. Watch a sunset on Pass-A-Grille — The Dewey Beach Bar rooftop is a perfect location!
Visit the Humane Society of Tampa Bay - since you love rescues, and I have 2 pit bulls, I would be happy to take you on a tour!
So we hope this helps, new neighbors. We’ve all got a favorite place to get a cigar in Cigar City (mine is too good to put here), we’ve all got a favorite craft brewery (honestly they’re all amazing), and we are all excited to welcome you to the 813.
See you soon!
P.S. No matter what you do here, just accept you’ll always be less popular than Titus O’Neil. Trust us: he’s the guy that really runs this city. Just hope he lets you go to stuff.