Congratulations to the Rotary Club of New Tampa, which will host the annual Taste of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel for the third year in a row, again at what is now being called AdventHealth Center Ice (AHCI) on Sunday, March 24, 2019, noon-4 p.m.

The club (which meets Fridays at 7 a.m at Tampa Palms Golf & Country Club) did an excellent job of rounding up not only many of your returning favorite eateries from the last two years, but also some outstanding newcomers among the 29 restaurants and eleven beverage purveyors that had signed up to participate in the Taste by our press time on March 15.

We caught up with Taste co-chairs Karen Frashier and Jennifer Cofini and asked them about what new and old favorites attendees will be enjoying at this year’s Taste:

NN: How excited is everyone about this year’s Taste of New Tampa event?

TONT: We’ve had the pleasure to give away Taste tickets at several North Tampa Bay Chamber and community events. We always ask the crowd if they know why we’re there and what’s coming up. A large percentage of the crowd shouts back “Taste of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel.” Hearing that crowd response makes our day! 

The Rotary Club of New Tampa is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) hosting this event with the Chamber to support scholarships and our charities. Our committee has grown to 20 Rotarians and Chamber volunteers. We’re invested.

NN: What do you have planned?

TONT: We’ve got 40 food and beverage vendors that will start tummies grumbling the minute guests enter Rink C at AdventHealth Center Ice. 

The Freedom High Naval Junior ROTC flag corps will kick off the festivities, along with: Denyse Bales-Chubb, the CEO of AdventHealth Wesley Chapel; Dist. 7 Tampa City Councilman Luis Viera; and Mike Wells, the chairman of the Pasco County Board of Commissioners. 

Then, the Freedom High School drum corps will get the party started by marching throughout the venue. Attendees have told us they want tables spread throughout the venue so they can hang out with friends and neighbors. Done!

NN: So, what’s new at this year’s Taste?

TONT: We’ve added cookie decorating to the photo booth and kids painting/art booth located in the family fun area. A Dash of Salt ‘n Pepper, DCA Media Consulting and Pinot’s Palette Wesley Chapel are sponsoring the fun for kids. 

Our presenting sponsor is Advent Health Wesley Chapel. The Taste of New Tampa & Wesley Chapel focuses on friends, family and food — three important building blocks to whole, healthy lives. Building blocks that inspire both the Rotary Club of New Tampa and AdventHealth Wesley Chapel to serve our North Tampa Bay neighbors.

NN: What restaurants are you particularly excited to see that you think the locals will be happy to see?

TONT: Taste attendees will be particularly interested to see how the chef showdown between past winners Ciccio’s Cali, Noble Crust and Nothing Bundt Cakes shakes out. Pincher’s, Vom Fass, Blondie’s Cookies, Fat Rabbit, Cinebistro, Chuy’s and Top Shelf Sports Lounge were crowd favorites, too.

Earth Fare, a green grocer which newly opened on S.R. 56 (across from Tampa Premium Outlets) and Bahama Breeze are bringing their chefs’ A games.

NN: What about any under the radar places? Maybe some eateries that aren’t located nearby or are new to the area that many will be getting a first taste of?

TONT: Taste foodies will be especially interested in locally owned food and beverage purveyors such as Ava’s Low Country Cuisine, Pomodoro Pizza and the Ice Dreammm Shop. They can have their cake and eat it too from the newly opened community venue called Canterbury Hall at Grace Church Tampa Palms. And, Batter & Dough is offering yummy filled mini-pancakes.

NN: Other than food samples, what else can people look forward to at the Taste?

TONT: There will be big competition in the beverage category this year with Coppertail Brewing competing with 81 Bay, Zephyrhills, Time for Wine. The Brass Tap and PRP Wine International. New beverage options include Blue Chair Bay Rum and Buttermilk Provisions sangria. Chamber chair Karen Tillman-Gosselin with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services is sponsoring the water again this year and we’ll have a booth for soft drinks.

NN: What do you expect or hope for in terms of attendees? Talk about the growth of the event over the past two years, and how Center Ice has proven to be an ideal facility.

TONT: The event has a 20-year history as one of North Tampa Bay’s premier events.

Last year we hosted 2,000 guests. Based on history and the growth we’ve seen over three years, we expect 3,000 guests this year. AdventHealth Center Ice is a perfect location because the event is indoors — no worries about the weather. The parking is free and plentiful in front and behind the building. We’ll have volunteers in the lots helping guests locate parking and directing people to open parking. Plus, Taste-goers who present a Taste ticket the day of the event can get free ice skate rental to glide off the calories after snacking their way through the restaurants and beverage purveyors.

NN: What charitable organizations receive the proceeds that are raised?

TONT: Proceeds support high school scholarships through the North Tampa Bay Chamber and charities supported by the Rotary Club of New Tampa. In 2018, the Rotary Club of New Tampa donated more than $46,000 to local and Rotary International Foundation signature projects, including End Polio Now, Feeding Tampa Bay and the Fisher House at the Haley VA Hospital.

Signature youth programs such as Interact, Rotaract and Seminar for Tomorrow’s Leaders help young people develop leadership skills. Find the complete list on

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