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The manager of a restaurant or hotel checks the body temperature of the staff with a thermal imaging device.
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Gov. Ron DeSantis is looking to “tweak” one of his coronavirus orders so restaurant wait staff and non-health care workers can get back on the job quicker after testing positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, his top business regulator continues to plan meetings with craft brewers and bar owners about reopening.

Mel's Hot Dogs opened in July 1973.
Mel's Hot Dogs

If you’re prepping for a Fourth of July cookout or seeking to recreate stadium-quality hot dogs at home, Mel Lohn can help. Alongside his wife, Virginia, Lohn runs Mel’s Hot Dogs—a Tampa institution for nearly five decades. He told us his story on The Zest podcast.

DAYLINA MILLER/WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

A bar near the University of Central Florida has had its state alcoholic beverage license suspended for violating reopening guidelines after 13 employees and at least 28 customers tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

DeSantis Eyes Bars, Restaurants But Stays The Course

Jun 21, 2020
Man at podium in front of flags
Florida Governor's office / Facebook

Confronted by yet another record day of new coronavirus infections, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Saturday said the state would begin cracking down on restaurants and bars that don’t follow guidelines limiting the number of people inside the establishments but stood by his decision not to mandate that people wear masks.

Hall on Franklin
The Hall on Franklin

In 2019, Alexandria Jones set out on a mission: to interview owners of a handful of black-owned eateries across Tampa Bay. She turned those interviews into a half-hour documentary called A Soulful Taste: Exploring Tampa Bay's Black-Owned Food Scene.

Mykonos family photo
Dalia Colón

Miami has Little Haiti and Little Havana. Orlando has Little Vietnam. And in northern Pinellas County, you’ll find an ethnic enclave like no other: Tarpon Springs.

Chef Tom Colicchio is one of the many restaurateurs wondering what will be left of the industry after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course.

Diners enjoy outdoor seating at Parkshore Grill in St. Petersburg on Monday. Tables must be spaced six feet apart.
Tyson Grant / Parkshore Grill

Diners are returning to Tampa Bay area restaurants for sit-down service now that the state is letting them reopen with limited capacity.


Servers and other employees won’t be counted toward limits on occupancy when restaurants reopen Monday under coronavirus guidelines, the state’s top business regulator said.

These are anxious times for people like Melvin Rodrigue, who lived through Hurricane Katrina. It destroyed his home and shut down his famed Galatoire's restaurant in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

This is far worse, he says.

"I think Katrina is going to prove to be a cakewalk compared to this," Rodrigue says. Insurance paid for his losses then. This time, it won't.

Sorry we are closed sign board hanging on a door of cafe
iStock

In the latest move to slow the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Friday closing all Florida restaurants and food establishments to on-site customers.

However, they still may run their kitchens to provide delivery or take-out services.

Dr. BBQ has a restaurant of the same name in St. Petersburg.
Datz Restaurant Group

With Labor Day weekend just ahead, The Zest podcast got a last-minute barbeque lesson from Dr. BBQ himself, Barbecue Hall-of-Famer Ray Lampe, at his St. Petersburg restaurant.

Helen Freund
Monica Herndon

This week on WUSF's food podcast, The Zest, we’re talking to some of Tampa Bay’s favorite food personalities.

 Food writer Laura Reiley, right, with Robin Sussingham.
Dalia Colón

By Robin Sussingham

Customized burgers based on facial recognition and robots behind the counter at your favorite doughnut shop? It sounds like the premise of a sci-fi movie, but the future of food is stranger than fiction.

Wild Boars At Shogun Farms
Courtesy Shogun Farms

Ed Chiles is the son of the late Governor Lawton Chiles. He’s also the owner of several seafood restaurants: the Sandbar on Anna Maria Island, the Beach House in Bradenton Beach and Mar Vista Dockside on Longboat Key.

Chiles's interest in local and sustainable food sourcing has led him to experiment with cooking one of the state's invasive species -- wild hogs. On The Zest Podcast, host Robin Sussingham spoke to him about some of the ways his restaurants' chefs have been utilizing wild boars from Shogun Farms.

We’re entering Florida’s sweltering season, and if you can’t stand the heat, you’d better be ready with some hot-weather recipes. WUSF's new food podcast, The Zest, is up to the challenge.

Robin Sussingham and Laura Reiley
Dalia Colón

Food writer Laura Reiley spent years closely observing Tampa Bay’s food and dining scene. 

She says there’s a reason that the area is exploding onto the national consciousness—affordable real estate.

Several bars and breweries have found themselves at odds with the Florida Department of Health over a recent crackdown on a rule that prohibits pets inside businesses that serve food.

Former Cook Gets 7 Years For Putting Lye In Yum Yum Sauce

Feb 8, 2018
Polk County Sheriff's Office

A disgruntled Lakeland restaurant worker has been sentenced to seven years in prison for putting deadly plumber's lye into the Yum Yum sauce.

The owner of the Hibachi Express franchise checked surveillance video after tasting the sauce during a routine inspection and immediately feeling his mouth burn.

Tampa Bay Times Food Critic Laura Reiley has been dining out a lot in the past couple of weeks. So now she's living on coffee after consuming "thousands of extra calories" in pursuit of the best restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. 

The result is her list of the Top 50

Ava's Facebook page

Tampa Bay Times Food Critic Laura Reiley has been dining out a lot in the past couple of weeks. So now she's living on coffee after consuming "thousands of extra calories" in pursuit of the best restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. 

The result is her list of the Top 50

When you sit down at Chef José Andrés' tapas restaurant, Jaleo, in Washington, D.C., and ask to see the beverage options, as I did recently, you're in for a surprise. Instead of a traditional leather-bound menu, I was handed an iPad.

Dalia Colón / WUSF

Construction is under way on the Epicurean Hotel in South Tampa. The so-called foodie hotel is the latest offshoot of Bern's Steak House and will be located just across the street from the famed restaurant.

On Monday night, nearby SideBern's restaurant held a preview of the food and drinks the new hotel will feature. Several hundred people stopped by the invitation-only event.

traderjoes.com

Full disclosure: I am very excited about this.

As a transplant from the Midwest, I'm always giddy when a business I enjoyed up North comes to Tampa Bay:

  • Kohl's in 2006
  • Ikea in 2009

And now Trader Joe's, the affordable hipster grocery chain that manages to sell items like gluten-free bagels and organic pomegranate juice at unpretentious prices. 

Tampa Bay & Company

It's that time of year when Florida goes on sale. In addition to the back-to-school Sales Tax Holiday that runs Friday through Sunday, this weekend also kicks off Dine Tampa Bay.

For the next two weeks, restaurants in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater will offer three-course, pre-fixed meals. Patrons can get an appetizer, entree and dessert for $25, $35 or $45, depending on the restaurant.