Jannah & Gary Nager at a wedding on Cape Cod Aug. 17.

Pretty much every year since I took over the Neighborhood News in 1994, we have held our annual Reader Dining Survey & Contest. At one time, it was just our most popular contest for our readers but today, it is the only one we still run year after year.

And honestly, it’s also a tremendous amount of work to put together (and tabulate the results of) the contest each year, as so many restaurants continue to come and go in our distribution areas, especially recently in New Tampa, where fewer newcomers have been replacing those that exit than in Wesley Chapel, where there are so many newbies, even though most of them are regional or national chains.

This year, after participation in this annual contest dwindled somewhat the past two years, I tried to find a way to ask you to name fewer favorites yourselves but hopefully, still find a way to give every restaurant currently operating in New Tampa and Wesley Chapel and those located directly adjacent to both markets a better chance to be among our readers’ favorites. 

I also was trying to find a way to prevent “ballot stuffing” by local residents who only entered the contest to vote for one place. As always, entries that are not completely and/or incorrectly filled out will not have their votes included, but it seems that the format this year is already reducing disqualifications. 

Also new this year is the fact that if you live in New Tampa, you only got to vote last issue (and this issue) for restaurants located in New Tampa (or on Bearss Ave. near BBD in Lutz). Likewise, those living in Wesley Chapel were only asked to vote for restaurants in Wesley Chapel (and on S.R. 56 and S.R. 54 in Lutz). In our October issues, New Tampa residents will get to vote for their favorites in Wesley Chapel and Wesley Chapel residents for their favorites in New Tampa, although both surveys are available online now, and you can submit one entry in each market at NeighborhoodNewsOnline.net or by U.S. Mail.

And, based on the fact that we already have more than doubled last year’s total number of entries in just the first two (of six total) issues the contest has run so far is an indication that I may be onto something, even though the task to include every restaurant, fast food place, café and cafeteria in both of our markets has proven even more daunting than I had anticipated. 

Originally, I correctly listed all of the candidates for  “Favorite Restaurant in New Tampa” by where they were located, rather than in alphabetical order, but I ended up excluding two of my favorite pizza places in New Tampa — Taste of New York in Highwoods Preserve and Woodfired Pizza on Bearss Ave. — from the “Favorite Pizza in New Tampa” list, completely by accident. You’ll note that both of them have been added to the second run of the New Tampa survey, and you’ll also find that I have reorganized the full list of New Tampa favorites alphabetically this time around.

I did even worse in Wesley Chapel, where, among a couple of others, The Brass Tap was inadvertently left off the “Favorite Bar or Tavern in Wesley Chapel” list, and my 2018 favorite restaurant in Wesley Chapel — Dempsey’s Steakhouse in Saddlebrook Resort — was left off the “Favorite Restaurant in Wesley Chapel” list, as was TD’s Sports Bar at Saddlebrook. Yeesh.

But, that’s one reason why we run the contest multiple times, so we can get the listings right. The other is that we want as many local residents in both of our markets as possible to participate because, quite honestly, it helps both us and the restaurants themselves get a better handle on which places our readers truly like best in and near their neighborhoods. And, despite the amount of work that it takes to create and score the contests, it also is a lot of fun for me, as one of our area’s better-known “foodies,” to oversee. 

Congratulations, Mrs. Nager!     

Loyal Neighborhood News readers know that Jannah has been working for the Pasco Education Foundation (the nonprofit organization that raises money to support the Pasco School District) for the past four+ years, but she has an exciting new job that definitely will make her even more well-known and popular right here in Wesley Chapel than she has become  from all of the publicity she’s had in these pages.

As of Sept. 1, Jannah is now the director of marketing for the (mainly) indoor Wesley Chapel Sports Complex at Wiregrass Ranch (that is the working title) being developed by RADD Sports just off S.R. 56! It truly is a huge, exciting opportunity for her and Jannah already is looking to establish partnerships for the complex with local companies and sports organizations. 

Stay tuned for more announcements and congrats, babe!  

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