When I worked at Tampa General Hospital as a recreational therapist we had a pet therapy program, and our volunteer dogs would come dressed up in cheerful outfits to visit with patients. I saw a dog’s purpose in a different light during my years there, and I wished I could spend more of my days with these amazing animals. Combined with always being on the hunt for unique gear for my own dog, I realized the store Tampa was missing: a fun shopping space just for dogs. I started sketching what my concept would look like, and the rest is history. I still have that notebook in my office.
I am so happy for Tampa to become known for its pet-friendliness, and it is well deserved. There are so many establishments able to, or interested in, serving pet owners in our community. Those businesses are serving up good vibes. You can be in a room filled with people from all over and of different ages and backgrounds, and we all equally light up when we get to talk about our dogs. Dogs somehow make us feel more human. Even when you have differences, be it political or cultural, you can still hold a peaceful conversation if it’s about your pet. [It’s] crazy, but so true. I mean, I haven’t met a dog person I haven’t liked!
Almost all of the shops and restaurants in Hyde Park Village are pet friendly, so you can spend a lot of time here dining and shopping with your best friend. When the pavement’s not too hot (got to protect those paws). Bayshore Boulevard and the surrounding streets offer a scenic walk. Davis Islands has some great spots. Fort De Soto across the bridge has a beautiful dog beach. An exercised dog is a happy dog! Grab that leash and explore.
You’re more than likely to find me in my village than anywhere else. The choices are plentiful and all delicious. Wine Exchange is always on top, with their pet-friendly patio right across from me. I love their black bean burger topped with avocado — so good. Goody Goody is our breakfast and burger spot, and [my dog] Lily Belle approves of a side of bacon or the burger (hold the bun). The owners share my love of dogs and German shepherds, so we always feel at home there.
When I venture out of my little village, I head to Pané Rustica. They are wonderful people doing wonderful things. I could eat there everyday. I usually go off the specials menu, although for lunch I don’t stray far from their famous mozzarella sandwich and those chocolate espresso cookies. They are life in a cookie.
Lately all causes for celebration have been at Meat Market. It’s the latest hot spot in the village, and it’s spectacular. But save room for the warm chocolate chip cookies (I know, it’s not meat). Then there’s Forbici. They are on fire with their pizza and pasta. The cacio e pepe is like a dream, and the service is the same.
My family naturally spends a lot of quality time in the village. We grab a Hyppo pop or some Italian cookies at Sorrento Sweets and walk to the park. We also love the Sunday Fresh Markets and hitting up CinéBistro for family movies.
Tampa is full of hidden gems. [The first one that comes to mind is] Seaplane Basin Park on Davis Islands. I like to sit out on the sea wall with the pup and watch the sun and sailboats. If you’re lucky you’ll see a dolphin so close up, it’s amazing. Dolphin-watching with my dog in Tampa Bay… How lucky are we?
I’ve been shopping in Hyde Park Village since I was a young girl. It will always be a destination I treasure, so I am beyond grateful for the support we have been shown. My longtime customers are like my family. They’ve seen my kids go from babies to being almost able to work the register. Our invested owners (WS Development) are returning the sparkle and diversity to the village. There’s now something for everyone to enjoy, and it’s only going to get more vibrant. I know we made our mark and our exactly where we are meant to be. I cannot think of anything better. Other than getting another dog…