Business Insider is out with a list of restaurants around the country that are scaling back. Some are eliminating stores. Some may close altogether. They say many of these chains were having problems long before the coronavirus forced the closure of dining rooms. They say by 2021, you may see far fewer locations for these fast food and sit down chain restaurants. Some surprised me. [Source: Business insider]
There are about 20 Steak N Shake locations currently in the Tampa Bay area currently, but that may change. The burger chain announced this month that they are closing over 50 locations, but they haven’t yet said which stores in particular will be shut down.
There are still a couple dozen Burger King restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. The Impossible Whopper has had pretty good reviews, but will it be enough to save the chain?
This one surprises me most. You always see a line at Taco Bell, especially late at night at the Tampa area locations at least! I'd be really surprised to see locations close near us.
There are still a few dozen locations of the sandwich shop in our area. We Floridians love our Pub Subs so it's probably hard to compete.
There were only a handful left in Tampa Bay, including locations in Riverview and Oldsmar. Several have already closed up.
There is a lot of competition in the pizza world so this one doesn't surprise me so much. We Floridians tend to prefer Hungry Howies.
This is another one that surprises me. I always see a line at the Boston Market near our studio.
The burger chain just opened a location near my old place in Brandon a few years ago. Always seemed to be fairly busy. Any place with bottomless fries is my kinda place.
We still have about a dozen restaurants here in the Tampa area.
They aren't all over... just a handful in our area in Bradenton, Bartow and Clearwater. We'll see if they survive to 2021.
#GenoAteTampa: Geno’s pizza tour of Tampa Bay
If you missed this list on National Pizza, Day, let Geno show you around Detroit, New York City and Chicago… without leaving Hillsborough and Pinellas County.
The newest addition to my list is a close runner up to my favorite pizza in Florida. The crust has a perfect texture. The sauce is out of this world. The cheese has the perfect level of saltiness. I don't get to Bradenton often but every time I go, this tiny intimate Italian restaurant will be a new stop for me. The penne pasta was excellent but the pizza was insanely good.
This place is rated best by many Tampa pizza lovers. I like it. It's better than Tampa's other favorite Eddie & Sam's (which I find blatantly average at best). It's in a quiet neighborhood so you have to seek it out. It's close to the 275/I-4 merge on Central. If you're in that part of town, it's a solid choice. Not my favorite in Florida, but in the Top 10 for Tampa area for sure.
I unfortunately discovered this place just as I was moving away from the Brandon area. Not the top of my list, but far from the bottom. Nothing fancy. Just good pizza from a local mom and pop shop. I love those.
This was one of my first great pizzas I discovered when I moved to Florida. Pizza lovers argue about New York vs. Chicago style pizza. Cappy's has both. Their NY style is good, but the Chicago version is excellent. They also have other locations, including one in St. Pete I've tried a few times. But the Riverview restaurant seems to do it best. It's definitely not an everyday pizza. Deep dish pizza is an event or an occasion. You will not leave hungry.
I know many who swear by Paul's being the best around. I'm not as much of a fan. I think Cappy's does deep dish way better. However their deep dish isn't bad at all. Call way ahead because deep dish takes a while to make. Paul's loyalists will tell you the REAL Chicago style pizza is the super thin crunch crust. I'm not a fan. I like chewy.
There are plenty of pizza spots in Ybor City. There's one on a side street off 7th that I can't remember the name of at the moment. But it's frustrating because depending on who's working, some nights it's awesome and some nights their pizza is terrible. But Due Amici is pretty consistent. The game changer for me was when I tried their Sicilian style.
I honestly had no idea Detroit had their own style of pizza until I discovered Pizza Squared near Busch Gardens in Tampa.
I am sad to report that Pizza Squared is no longer with us. They started going downhill and eventually went out of business about 3 years ago. They had fantastic wings too. It was my Super Bowl go to spot for years.
Listeners insisted I try this place. It's good pizza, but not great. Thing is in Florida, we have so little great pizza that places like this tend to stand out. It's not a bad pizza, just not great... nothing special to make it unique.
This place on 49th is a local favorite, but really just ok to me. But I felt I should include it since so many have told me it's their favorite. To me it's not really all that flavorful. It's thin and light. I'm a fat guy. I like something hearty.
Its in St. Pete but no hipsters it's not a place you just never noticed downtown St. Pete. It's not downtown at all. It's hidden in a cruddy strip mall on 62nd Ave. I had the chicken parm dozens of times before I finally tried their pizza. I shouldn't have waited so long. Their chicken parm is top notch but the pizza is very good.
I'll never forget when I first heard that Grimaldi's, a legendary pizza spot in NYC and New Jersey, had chosen Florida for its first franchise locations. For a few years, there was none better for me.
I normally am not a chain pizza person, but they captured the magic of the pizza from Grimaldi's locations in NYC at their Florida locations.
So is that it? Is Grimaldi's is my #1 pick? Nope! Grimaldi's style of pizza, coal oven, was eclipsed when listeners insisted I try a similar pie in Clearwater and I never looked back.
I saved the best for last. I won't even let you argue. I've lived from Maine to California. There's no better pizza in the Tampa area than Cristino's. There's not a lot of parking. It's a pain for most who live in Tampa Bay to get to. But you get rewarded with that first bite.
Cristino's, I love you. You make national lists for a reason. You're a pain in the butt to drive to but that's probably for the best. Otherwise I'd be there weekly. And I'm fat enough.
The first time I had pizza at Cristino's was right before a New York City trip. The pizza was so good that I didn't even seek out pizza when I was in NYC. That's a crime. You can not go to New York City and not have pizza. It's just wrong. But Cristino's is that good.
To get the best experience at Cristino's, go with the basic and just tell them you want TheMargherita with extra sauce. It does have cheese, but like most elite pizza spots, they know to put the cheese below the sauce. This tends to weird out many amateur pizza eaters. But trust me. It's the way pizza is supposed to be done.
If you’re up to do some traveling, here are some of my other favorites…
When I go home to see family, this is usually the first stop. Their thick Sicilian style slabs may be my favorite anywhere. It's not the kind of pizza you'd eat every day. It's a monster. The sauce is sweeter than you may be used to but it's tangy and the cheese is salty. They don't make pizza to order. You walk in. If there's any pizza left, grab a box. If they're currently sold out, you wait. They don't customize pizza with toppings. You take what you can get.
Good ol' fashioned Brooklyn style pizza. Brick oven pizza with Sinatra playing... it's my happy place in NYC. But just like Boston, honestly, with NYC, if the pizza isn't good, they won't stay in business with rent prices that high.
It's an icon in Boston. Honestly it's almost a 200 way tie for first place. You can't find bad pizza in Boston. The rent is too high and if the pizza wasn't good, they'd go out of business.