By Jennifer N. Dienst
My last evening in Tampa was spent enjoying a long, luxurious dinner at Mise en Place, a 180-seat restaurant known for its enormous menu and attentive service. A number of banquet and private dining spaces are available for groups within the restaurant itself, and a catering and event-planning division offers services for off-site events. Next door, the elegant, airy Oxford Exchange is another must-see. The jack-of-all-trades space houses a full-service restaurant, a private club, separate tea and coffee shops, and an eclectic gift store.
The next morning, before my last site visit of the trip, I grabbed coffee and a bacon-and-egg sandwich — served on two huge slabs of mouthwatering Cuban bread — at Moxies Café before touring the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the main site of last year’s RNC The venue hosts 150 events annually, everything from hockey games to concerts, and a $40-million renovation completed in 2012 added a number of new amenities and event spaces - including the 11,000-square-foot Bud Light Outdoor Party Deck, 69 new luxury suites, and the 9,000-square-foot Firestick Grill. The spaces all have a noticeably upscale ambience to them, making you feel like you’re in a classy hotel rather than a sports arena.
It’s just one more example of how Tampa is setting itself apart and setting the bar higher.