Tuesday, May 17, 2011

City Bike Tampa Urban Restaurant Tour

by Meghann on May 17, 2011

If anyone needs any proof on why social media is important for small businesses or people in new towns, I think my experience tonight is a great example.

You see when I moved to Tampa back in March I started following just about every Tampa based group there is on twitter and on Facebook. I’m twitter obsessed and the ability to follow these groups new groups was my ticket to all the fun things happening in my new hometown. If you’re new somewhere, finding groups through social media is a good way to learn about the area.

I just happened to be on twitter last week when I saw this random tweet come through from one of those groups.

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10 spots left? 10 spots left for what? hmmm….You’ve caught my attention.

A quick review of tweets and a look at the website later… I struck gold.

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An Urban Restaurant Tour? In downtown Tampa? On a bike?

Sold!

What a great way to try some new restaurants while staying active in downtown!

I immediately registered and happily forked over the $8 registration fee, which included all the food as well as the bike tour. Told you it was gold!

I was so excited when I discovered the tour – and worried about it selling out – that I didn’t have time to find a friend to go with me. I tried to find a friend afterwards, but by then it was sold out. Boo. Instead of caving in, I decided to go on my own. If there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that not finding another person to do something with me, will never stop me from doing it. ๐Ÿ™‚

This afternoon I put my big girl pants off and met the Urban Restaurant Tour alone at it’s first stop at Sono Cafe’ at the Tampa Museum of Art.

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I was one of the first one’s there, which meant I got a free water bottle out of deal. Sweet.

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Sono had an assortment of paninis to feed the crowd.

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I tried the caprese salad and mushroom pesto paninis. They were both alright. They were served cold, but you could tell they were meant to be served hot.

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I was a bigger fan of the peanut butter gelato.

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Now, that stuff was GOOD.

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At first I was really shy and nervous. I kept walking circles and began sheepishly eyeing all the groups of people. Then someone started talking to me. Then another. And another.

And before I knew it – I had made friends.

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Everyone on the bike tour was super outgoing and friendly. Many of them ran in the same circles, hung out in the same running groups, or had bumped into each other at past races. It was a very active crowd that taught me a great deal about what to do and see in the area.

I spent most of the evening handing out my business card (Hi Guys!!!) and discussing running, biking, half ironman training, and photography with everyone. The tour was a great way to network and make new friends, I was grateful that attending as a party of one didn’t hold me back from going!

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After our first stop, we hopped on out bikes and headed to Harbor Island for round two.

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It was a very eclectic group of cyclists! There were road bikes, beach cruisers, mountain bikes, hybrids, etc. Basically, if it had two wheels and it moved, then you were good to go.

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However, I was a little discouraged by the lack of helmets in the group. Safety first people!

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Stop #2 was That’s Amore – a cute little Italian restaurant on Harbor Island.

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There was a cap of 100 people on the tour. 100 people = a lot of bikes!

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That’s Amore had Bruschetta and Pasta with a Vodka sauce. (I only had a couple of bites of each, but both were delicious – especially the bruschetta!)

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Stop #3 was just a quick ride over the river to Columbia Cafe.

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Salad and Cuban Sandwiches were on the menu

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I took the opportunity to purchase a beer (alcohol was not included in the $8. bummer.)

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The sun was beginning to set as we were leaving the Columbia Cafe. Luckily, I had just purchased some nifty lights for my bike. Again, safety first!

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Stop #4 was The Garage in downtown

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A buffet of salad and wraps were awaiting us

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I was getting full by this point. I just ate some of the salad and the filling of the tasty spinach and mushroom wrap.

Before:

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After:

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Final Stop: PIzza Fusion!

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I was so sad when they closed the one in Orlando! I’m happy to see it alive and well in downtown Tampa. ๐Ÿ™‚

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LOVED the bacon and pineapple sliver. That pizza was good!

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And dessert ๐Ÿ™‚

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My new friends and I split the gigantic brownie

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They did a raffle at the end of the tour, then everyone said good night!

The event itself was so much fun and riding between places actually gave the food time to digest, so I was never stuffed (little bites helped too!). ๐Ÿ™‚

City Bike Tampa hosts the tour the last Thursday of every month (tonight’s tour was a new time slot they were testing out) and next month’s will be an ode to Ybor. The 100 spots sell out quickly (hence this month’s add on), so be sure to follow them on twitter or Facebook to have up to the minute information when the tickets are released.

Anyone interested in signing up for next month’s with me? ๐Ÿ˜‰

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