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1920s Elegance in Modern Tampa at 717 South Restaurant

By Elisha Neubauer

For those in the Tampa Bay area, 717 South is a welcome escape from a bustling city. With the modern conveniences, designs, and architecture, stepping into this unique eatery is like stepping back in time and enjoying a high quality meal submerged in the ambiance that is the 1920s.

Stark colors, elegant designs, and clean lines welcome you to the 717 South Restaurant. The interior designs take their cue from the roaring '20s, giving a touch of class and retro sophistication to the room. The establishment offers high ceilings, art deco paintings, wooden trims, and of course, an open kitchen allowing customers to see their food being made from scratch.

While the interior ambiance of the restaurant is fabulous, let's face it, it's not the reason why people keep coming back night after night. The menu calls to everyone, offering meal choices from authentic Italian to Pacific Rim seafood. They have an extensive cocktail menu and keep over 400 wines in stock from all over the word, which only adds to the immense flavors available on the menu.

When we spoke with Michael Stewart, Owner of 717, he told us his own take on why he feels they're so popular with the locals. "Our food is very consistent," he states. "They say you need 66% of your customers to come back often to be successful. Most of our patrons come back weekly and some nightly." Of course, being Tampa, they do get some out-of-town visitors, as well. "We do get some tourist in season, but they seem to come back year after year."

Stewart goes on, telling us that they offer over 65 consistent choices on their menu. "Our menu is very large so we appeal to a wide customer base," he states. "Most of our patrons are regulars so they can come back 3 to 4 times a week and never have same choices. We also offer nightly specials, which is always made from scratch that afternoon." According to him, only quality, fresh ingredients go into the options on the menu. "One of our specialties is our Chilean Sea Bass and our Local Gulf Grouper," Stewart says. "We are also known for our Steaks and Asian Pot Roast." 717's Seafood Cioppino is another fan favorite and they have a large variety of steaks, seafood and pasta. "Our award winning desserts are also made in house," Stewart announces.

We asked Stewart what was his favorite thing about owning the restaurant and as he gave his answer, he couldn't stop gushing. "Our patrons and my staff," he boasted. "They are both extremely loyal." So loyal, in fact, that he had a hard time convincing them to try new things. "We opened a new restaurant across the street, and had a very hard time getting them just to try it," Stewart laughed. "They would say things like, 'We just love 717.'"

Both patrons and staff agree, 717 have created a 'Cheers' like environment where everyone feels welcome and appreciated. It has definitely paid off and the establishment has been voted TOP 20 Best New Restaurant in Florida, Best Place for Dinner, Best Wines by the Glass, TOP 400 Places to dine in Florida, Best Happy Hour and most recently the very prestigious Wine Spectator "Award of Excellence". "I feel we have the most loyal following anywhere," Stewart proudly states. "Even our bar regulars come in almost every night."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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