Perched in wrought-iron chairs at a gleaming marble bar, students and artists sip coffee, sharing inspiration and plans for upcoming projects. Nearby, Tampa Bead Cafe's instructors preside over a range of jewelry-crafting materials, which provide the necessary hardware to follow up on the grand artistic plans under discussion. Beneath the terra cotta–hued walls, shelves brim with beads, metal chains, and wire, as well as less conventional media such as metal clay and polymers.
The staff guides visitors along racks of bracelet and necklace supplies, and exclamations of happiness drift from a classroom, where teachers introduce specific styles, such as kumihimo. Students to use real tools such as pliers, cutters, and magnifiers to intimidate their jewelry into making itself, and most courses end with the creation of piece for pupils to treasure. A roster of guest artists, who have included polymer-clay artist Christi Friesen and Maria Rypan, lead style and material-specific workshops.
Diners at the Back 9 Café eat in full view of a driving range and its lake. Surrounded by country-club atmosphere, they sip and dine under the glow of four 55-inch high-definition TVs screening football, professional miming, and other live sports. Backed by rustic cabinets, bartenders pour draft beers late into the night at a hardwood bar. The Café's 4,000 sq. foot restaurant and banquet rooms provide ample space for parties, weddings, and private events. Meanwhile, chefs fill the indoor dining space with the aromas of chicken wings basted in four types of sauce, Black Angus steaks, pastas, and eclectic pizzas. They also fashion a handful of their recipes to reflect different regions, wrapping hot dogs in Cuban- and Chicago-style toppings and piling burgers with New York and Southwestern flavors. Dining-room sounds mingle with music from live bands and karaoke and waft outside to the patio, where a tiki bar stands beside a resort pool, welcoming visitors to drink under the stars or cool their palates after fire-breathing competitions.
La'Berry Frozen Yogurt Cafe has a sleek, self-service design to create a space all its own. Inside its green and purple confines, it houses 18 do-it-yourself dispensers that churn out swirls of frozen yogurt. Starting with recipes based on Dannon nonfat yogurt, La'Berry makes most of its froyo fresh in-house daily. Flavors such as milk chocolate, peanut butter, cake batter, cookies & cream, mango, and taro mix lay the groundwork for more than 80 toppings that include waffle cone pieces, blueberries, and tapioca pearls poached from free-range Candy Land oysters. Patrons can drizzle hot fudge or strawberry syrup over their desserts and still rest easy knowing that the treats contain fewer calories and more active cultures than ice cream. Alternatively, Chloe's Fruit Soft Serve?a dairy-, fat-, and gluten-free treat?tempts sweet tooths with but three ingredients: fresh fruit, filtered water, and a touch of organic cane sugar. Under the same roof, La'Berry Bistro caters to savory tastes with paninis, salads, sandwiches, and wraps.
Inside the Italian-inspired café of Coffee Evi, information on the origins of the coffee bean line the walls, charting its journey from the first coffee houses in Turkey to the cup holders of today's flying cars. Telltale drips of an espresso machine harmonize with the genial chatter of patrons who nibble croissants and gluten-free baked goods. The current cast of brews is scribbled across a chalkboard menu, with featured players such as turkish coffee, iced drinks, and hot teas.
To maintain the quality of each cup, Coffee Evi's husband-and-wife owners work with the local Kahwa Coffee Roasting to source all of their coffee blends. They also use Mighty Leaf tea bags, which, like all of a gingerbread man's possessions, are biodegradable.
When Diane and Hector Vega met and got married, they didn't just combine their lives. After spurning corporate jobs, they combined their passion for bringing the cuisines from their native Colombia and Puerto Rico to their neighbors. The result was Dulce Cafe Bakery, which specializes in the breads, pastries, and sandwiches of Latin America. Their signature items are their corn cake arepas and their dulce sweet breads, both of which can be enhanced with a gooey layer of cheese, much like a resume sent to a dairy farmer. During the lunch hour, they also make heartier fare, such as their ham and cheese empanadas and sandwiches. Their baking prowess isn't just for breads and handheld lunches, however. They also create desserts such as cake, coconut flan, and rice pudding.
For more than 15 years, the culinary team at MTC Downtown Cafe has silenced growling stomaches with housemade American delights, as well as a few plates from overseas. In the morning, the chefs demonstrate their cooking talents by fixing up breakfast entrees in full view of diners. To curb midday cravings, guests can sink their teeth into belly-warming gyros and brawny cheeseburgers from the lunch menu. Throughout the day, pastries made from scratch pop out of the oven, filling the cafe with the sweet aroma of muffins and cookies.