Local bakery carries on a 100 year legacy

If fresh food and baked goods is what you’re looking for, Alessi Bakery is your place to find it all.

Alessi Bakery has served the Tampa Bay area its sweet delights for over a century. Founded in 1912 by the patriarch, Nicolo Alessi, the establishment offers a variety of baked goods, wedding cakes and a catering service. There’s one retail location and a 100,000-square-foot manufacturing plant.

With this sign out front, you won’t ever miss Alessi Bakery.

“We’ve got quite a brand,” said Phil Alessi, Nicolo’s grandson and former owner of Alessi Bakery. “If you ask anyone in Tampa about Alessi Bakery, they’ll be familiar with the name. Of course, we’ve been around 100 years and have always given back to the community.”

General Manager Tiffany Pennington says Alessi Bakery’s only location on Cypress Street is as crowded as any establishment in the area.

“We get a lot of neighborhood traffic,” she said. “Lots of traffic all day long with hundreds of people coming in the doors.”

Customers from around the Bay Area head to Alessi Bakery during the breakfast and lunch rush or some choose to receive something more personal.

“I had my wedding cake and baby shower cake from here,” Tammie Borden said. “I frequent here all the time to get lunch. It’s close by, with fresh food and good quality service.”

Besides decadent desserts, other featured items include Alessi’s signature scachatta pizza, guava turnovers and Cuban sandwiches.

Doesn’t Alessi’s signature scachatta look delicious?

Walking into the place would make one easily aware of the plethora of items cooking, from one course to another.

“The catering is banging out all kinds of stuff,” Pennington said. “It’s really a big production going on almost all day long.”

The big production got its start from small, humble beginnings, something Phil Alessi will always remember.

“It took a lot of courage to do what he did,” he said, referring to his grandfather. “He didn’t have any money, didn’t speak the language. And he came in and started a business.”

Creative signs like these make Alessi Bakery unique.


Video: Office of Multicultural Affairs aimed to promote gender equality by celebrating Women’s History Month in March

The Office of Multicultural Affairs helped spread the word about Women’s History Month in March.

The office set up a booth in the atrium of the Marshall Student Center with stacks of blank cards for students to fill out with their reasons for why they support women. Free pins were also handed out to help spread awareness around campus.

According to Caitlin Jones, a coordinator for the LGBT programs and services for the Office of Multicultural Affairs, the objective of the event was for students and other passersby to understand the importance of the movement.

“Why does this matter?” Jones said.  “Why do people support women? Have people even thought about why they support women? So, we’re using this to start that thought process.”

Throughout the event, many people stopped by to offer their thoughts. At the end,  all completed cards were hung up along the office’s window on the third floor of the Marshall Center.

“Supporting women is more than wage equality,” Jones said. “It’s more than saying, ‘Oh, yes, women are important to me,’ but actually looking at class and race and some other pieces to be able to say, women matter.

“They deserve the same rights. The same equality. The same equity. And I’m willing to stand up and do that.”

Keiser student and nurse balances school with passion for weaponry

One wonders just how much Louis Garcia knows about firearms. His vast knowledge does not cover just guns — it covers all weapons, right down to the primitive bow and arrow.

“The first time I was introduced to a gun, actually, was around 10 years old,” Garcia said. “It was when I went with my father hunting, which has also been a favorite pastime and hobby of mine.”

Garcia, an outdoorsy guy, has honed his skills and developed an impressive vocabulary when speaking about weapons big and small.

“I look at weapons the same way I look at tools,” Garcia said. “They’re lethal, but they’re still tools, mechanisms. And since my father introduced me to them, I’ve been very careful with them.”

Garcia is also a full-time college student and a nurse. He loves what he does and invites the challenges that arise with the rigorous curriculum.

“As a full-time student, I do have to focus more on, of course, studies and put all of my hobbies on the back burner,” he said.

But what attracts him to nursing, a profession that requires patience, love for people and compassion?

“It’s strange to me that he can hunt and fish, but at the same time love people and really care about them and (help) them out,” said his mother, Kathy Zackal.

Garcia said: “It is a job that is not only rewarding, but I also get to be a scientist. We are scientists as much as we are caregivers.”

He plans to graduate this spring from Keiser University.

Hillsborough County hopes to draw more filmmaking projects

Film in the Tampa Bay area? Really? Tampa is not known as a filmmaking hub, particularly when it comes to big-budget motion pictures. Interestingly enough, however, two major motion pictures are slated to shoot this spring.

“If you were to drop a pin in the middle of Tampa and draw a 30-mile circumference around the city, you’d find the community is incredibly diverse,” said Tyler Martinolich, production manager at the Hillsborough County Film Office.

Martinolich finds this to be advantageous for current and aspiring filmmakers. He cites the blue skies, the absence of violent Northern-like storms and the balmy weather overall as great reasons to film in the region. But that is not all.

“We’re essentially a blank slate,” Martinolich said. “Whatever we want to make Tampa look like, we can make it look like. And that is of great value to just about any production.”

But making a film is expensive, and the industry is highly competitive.

“The tax incentives need to be comparable to that of Georgia’s and to that of North Carolina’s,” said Ryan Terry, University of South Florida Graduate Assistant and filmmaker. “If I’m a big-time filmmaker, I would get much more bang for my buck if I just went to Georgia instead of Florida.”

Martinolich said if the Florida Legislature, which will rule on the topic of incentives in May, refuses to back incentive proposals like they have done in the past, it is back to square one.

“We’ll have to showcase our area as much as we can and rely primarily on local incentives to get anything to work,” Martinolich said.

Martinolich said there is a good indication lawmakers will rule in favor of incentives.