It was the inaugural celebration like no other – Yelp Tampa Bay's first-annual Yelper Party! For the first time ever in the Bay Area, non-elite Yelpers were welcomed in to experience just how neat it is to be Elite. The TB Yelp community is growing by leaps and bounds after their first full-calendar year of rockin' it out, and Yelp's Livin' La Vida local was a great indication of just that. This was by the far the largest event in the 16 months of the Community's existence, which means we were lucky enough to come across quite the generous host.
Tampa was lucky enough to become the proud host to Datz in 2009, a now gastropub that already has evolved itself into one of the most Yelped about businesses in town. In 2012, they set local Yelp history for Yelp's Livin' La Vida Local! Cari E found herself a bit nervous beforehand, as she explains, "I wasn't so sure about this event – I thought it was going to be super crowded and I'd never get anything to drink, but I was proved wrong. I never had any problems. There was rarely a line at the bar so the white cosmos were flowing (loved the powdered sugar snow effect.) If you stayed in one place for any amount of time, you probably had four food trays go by." She also boasts about the newbies! "I enjoyed rubbing elbows with some new Yelpers that haven't quite made it to Elite yet. I think it did big things to bring new people up to speed on how being active on Yelp makes you a bad ass!
The venue-love continues from Coty S, "Datz's staff was on point with service and attention to detail. The food and drinks just magically appeared a a perfect pace. I guess they do this stuff for a living." Despite it's meteoric rise in popularity, Betsy V claims she "would have never known about this place if it weren't for this event" when referring to our generous host. "The staff is so friendly and welcoming. The hospitality is gracious and I will make sure to bring all my friends and family back to this awesome restaurant!" Why stop the momentum? Take it away Christine C! "The food service from Datz was impeccable. The friendly servers and bartenders were constantly wandering out with more food, and I never waited more than a minute for a drink. I would walk to the bar and immediately be greeted." Love and drinks all around!
Not only was the venue of this occasion amazing, but many vendors were brought in to put the evening over the top. The folks who make V6 Vodka, Empire Winery and Distillery were in the house, to which our old friend Christine C remarks, "those drinks were great! My favorite was the mulled cider martini with Siesta Key Rum and V6 Vodka." V6 Rye Vodka is produced locally by a fourth generation distiller with a passion for perfection. This refreshing spirit is distilled six times in a labor-intensive pot-still, and then filtered for fourteen hours in a proprietary mix of hardwood charcoal before bottling. That's how it's done!
Special Hoperations is an AHA registered hombrew club dedicated to the art of hombrewing and the passion of creating and drinking excellent beers. The club consists of brewers and cider, wine, and mead makers of all levels of experience. They were on display this evening, to which super-Yelper Cari E comments, "the beer dudes were really cool. I loved that they let you smell all the ingredients that went into the beers."
Transatlantic Wines & Spirits of Florida was serving up the Jesus Juice in a big way to Yelpers like Blaire O. "The wine tasting upstairs was divine, and I was happy to be talked through each wine in an unpretentious manner; his philosophy was that a wine is good if you like it! I can subscribe to that!"
Toffee To Go added to Sarah B's task-list immediately after the event. "Right after I finish this review, I plan on looking up how to buy toffee in bulk from Toffee To Go – I never thought toffee could be that amazing." Toffee To Go is a family-owned Tampa Bay company serving delicious handmade toffee to all with a sweet tooth! Their toffees come in three decadent flavors (milk chocolate almond, dark chocolate pecan and white chocolate macadamia nut) and make a wonderful gift for any occasion, including corporate gifting. Well there ya go, Sarah.
Meanwhile, David M has a favorite vendor of his own. "One of the highlights of the night for me was the Fat Cats hot sauce station. Not only were the sauces delicious and balanced in a way that can be rare for hot sauces, but the passion this guy possesses really comes out when he talks about hot sauce and chiles." Fat Cats Gourmet Foods produces six gourmet sauces, each commercially made in small batches in Winter Springs, FL with only high-quality, all-natural ingredients. Fat Cat's products focus more on the quality of their ingredients and the exotic blend of flavors those ingredients create together. From spicy to mild, each features a complex array of vibrant flavors that complements a wide range of foods.
And absolutely not least, William Dean Chocolates follows the artisan tradition of creating everything they make by hand, in small batches and without preservatives. They excite the eye and intrigue the palate, with works of art made from only the finest ingredients. Kerry J was certainly wowed by the "meticulous hand-painted deisgns on the chocolates… but they tasted even better than they looked!"
What other nomaliciousness could be found at this event? Glad you asked! Short rib or veggie bunny chow, reuben bites, mini kobe meatloaves, pulled pork BBQ sliders, hummus & crudite shooters, truffle parmesan popcorn, and the famous Datz house-made chips with blue cheese drizzle. That list is the literal definition of a mouth-full. And if that wasn't enough, a special Chicken and Waffle station was serving up goodies, as well as a Flatbread Pizza corner that could be found upstairs. Diana C raves about the "play on chicken and waffles… Waffle Cone + Chicken + Maple Syrup = awesome. I want to steal this idea for a future party I'm throwing… at a house I don't own." Long-time Yelp Tampa Bay pioner, Carlos H keeps the rave party alive while he dishes about his favorite dish. "The amazing chips by Datz. I never miss an opportunity to enjoy them and judging by how quickly they disappeared off the waiter plates, I think many others agreed with me!"
Tricks, treats, and a how lotta good times had by all, but Meghann A points out that "the absolute best part of the event was being able to share it with my non-elite Yelping friends. Many of them are aspiring Elites, that are now even more motivated to make it happen!" Carlos H returns to agree, "I thought it was a cool twist to bring in many vendors and local businesses into the event – it added some extra pizzazz. Yelp Tampa Bay just keeps getting bigger and bigger and this event is a testament to that." Not to be left out are the beautiful sounds of the evening, provided by Phase5. This local group absolutely melted faces, but in a cool and collective manner. Check out their website to hear them for yourself! And the beautiful photos you see from the event were taken by Gerardo Luna. Foodie, photographer, Realtor, and incurable optimistic but not necessarily in that order. Gerardo Luna has a passion for all things Tampa. Realtor by day he helps unite buyers and sellers, by night, his passion for photography comes alive. Find him here or "like" Tampa Daily Photo.
As Yelp Tampa Bay expands as Carlos hit on, it's exciting to see local business owners who not only understand the value of Yelp, but who are also excited to play host to an event. Six months ago when I first approached Suzanne Perry, "Co-Owner & Boss Lady" of Datz about hosting an event, her answer was emphatically and instantly "YES!" Her and her amazing team of Roger Perry, Shane Zinn, Vanessa Vazquez, and all of the servers & bartenders completely knocked this one out of the park… nay… out of the entire stadium. They put together a phenomenal list of vendors and brought in an epic band to make this a historic night to remember for us Yelpers. To them, I am owe unlimited gratitude.
See You On Yelp And At Datz
Proud Yelp Tampa Bay Community Manager