BACK IN 2015 I WAS LOOKING FOR a Hispanic business group to network. As is everyone in sales and marketing, I needed to expand my network for business opportunities. Shortly after, I became part of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Tampa Bay’s Board of Directors as the community outreach leader. [Being part of the HCCTB] allows me to learn about Tampa and the Central Florida market. The focus of the Chamber is to connect with resources for your business or career. HCCTB is currently the most active Hispanic group in the Tampa Bay area.
DURING THE MOST CRITICAL TIME OF THE PANDEMIC, THE HISPANIC CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF TAMPA BAY IDENTIFIED A GROUP OF SMALL BUSINESSES THAT DID NOT RECEIVE ASSISTANCE FROM ANY OTHER PROGRAMS OR BANKS. We gave them a business grant to help them with expenses through our Empresario Emprendedor program. In 2021 we are again launching Empresario Emprendedor searching for those businesses in need.
MY LOCAL KNOWLEDGE_
I HAVE MANY PLACES THAT I CAN RECOMMEND FOR BUSINESS MEALS. I always enjoy the Centre Club Westshore for business lunch, but I also enjoy Ocean Prime. The teriyaki salmon and jumbo lump crab cake are my favorites there. Pal Campo is another one of my favorites. I love the mofongo dishes. At Miguel’s Mexican, the carnitas enchiladas are my favorite, and I love Donatello. The linguini al granchio is my favorite dish. Spectacular!
A GREAT NIGHT IN TOWN WITH FRIENDS would be enjoying hotels such as the Current Hotel’s rooftop bar, ROX, or the Tampa Marriott Water Street’s waterfront amenities. But I always end up at Miguelitos Taqueria Y Tequila. Love their authenticity.
FOR A SPECIAL OCCASION, I ALWAYS ENJOY MY TIME WALKING ON THE RIVERWALK. There’s much to see and be entertained by. Also, it’s just a short walk away from nice hotels and restaurants. There is always something different happening on the Riverwalk.
I LOVE THE COFFEE FROM LA SEGUNDA BAKERY and the cappuccino from Acropolis Greek Taverna. I am a coffee lover. I enjoy my coffee strong with some milk, but not café con leche — more like dark, bold coffee. I am from the Caribbean, and I am Hispanic; we love coffee. At La Segunda Bakery, their morning breakfast is gigantic, including the must-have Cuban sandwich. I love Greek seafood, and I love the salmon dinner at Acropolis.
WHEN I HAVE GUESTS VISITING FROM OUT OF TOWN I TAKE THEM TO YBOR CITY! Everyone goes to Ybor City. I enjoy taking my friends and family to downtown, the Riverwalk, Gulf to Bay Boulevard to watch the sunsets, local theme parks, and most importantly to my church, Iglesia Tampa Bay on North Nebraska Avenue. My family and I enjoy sailing, so there is always time for boating and enjoying the bay at its best.
BEFORE THE PANDEMIC, TAMPA ALWAYS HAD A FESTIVAL HAPPENING. Some of my favorite festivals are the Tampa Taco Festival, Cuban Sandwich Festival, and the Riverwalk Art and Food Festival. I am looking forward to again enjoying the many outdoor cultural events organized in Tampa. Also, I must say that I genuinely enjoy and recommend the Tampa Bay History Center. Everyone that wants to learn more about Tampa should make a stop there.
Diane Cortes Rodríguez at the Centre Club
MY FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT HEALTHY IN TOWN IS FRESH KITCHEN ON HOWARD AVENUE. Creating your own delicious bowl with fresh ingredients is sensational. And I just recently learned about an amazing food truck called Keto Ricuras [with all-organic keto dishes]. Ooh, it’s so good. The chicken lasagna is amazing. I can do my happy Hispanic dance!
DUE TO THE PANDEMIC, MOST OF MY SHOPPING HAS BEEN ONLINE. One of my local favorites with online stores is Divas Options by Helga Otero. She has the most beautiful jewelry and accessories you will ever find, and she is so chic. Then for beauty, Michelle Laca and Makeup — I love her style and photo makeup expertise. When I’ve needed photography, S&N Shots Photography by Nelcy Baltz is great by appointment.
THERE ARE SO MANY WOMEN-OWNED BUSINESSES IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA THAT YOU COULD WRITE A BOOK ABOUT ALL THEIR AMAZING STORIES. Tampa, is the city of women’s opportunities, I’m just saying… The Miss Latina Tampa Organization by Rosario Torres is mentoring young girls and preparing them for the future, so it always inspires me. Martha Patarroyo is an amazing professional accountant. She’s so humble and real. You want to have her as a best friend forever. Mercedes Young, the CEO of Vivid Consulting Group, is a woman in construction like no other, an inspiring story of fearless and resilience. I am proud to say that she is one of my mentors. Ivelisse Rivera from Florida Aerospace is an inspiring story of success. In the competitive world of insurances, Seguros Maria Debes has prevailed as one of the top insurance agents in Tampa. I can go on and on.
FOR BRUNCH, YOU CAN NEVER GO WRONG WHEN YOU VISIT ARMATURE WORKS, ESPECIALLY GRAZE. I love that place. The chicken and waffles and the brunchwich sandwich are succulent. Another Broken Egg Café is also super delicious. I like their crab cake Benedict and lobster and Brie omelet. And there’s everyone’s traditional favorite, La Teresita. You can choose either the cafeteria or restaurant. I love having the Cuban toast and the palomilla steak with yellow rice and sweet plantain. So, so good!
ONE OF TAMPA’S BEST HIDDEN GEMS IS ITS TRAILS. The Riverwalk, the Upper Tampa Trail, Alafia River Preserve Trail, Courtney Campbell Causeway West trail, Morris Bridge bike trail and Bayshore Boulevard are among my favorites. Take a bike and hit the infinite options for all year long. It is a phenomenal adventure and great exercise, too.
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