Gaspar’s Renovates It’s Tampa Legacy

Posed Photo by Joseph Meier
Joseph Meier

 

It is 1:30 in the morning. Jimmy Ciaccio gets out of his bed and heads to Gaspar’s Bar and Grill — his bar, which belonged to his father before him — to begin his fourth renovation.

“I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into this place,” said Ciaccio, owner of Gaspar’s Bar and Grill.

Ciaccio could have contracted out the project or delegated it to his employees, but he showed up and worked himself.  From laying down the hardwood floors to hanging doors, Ciaccio built his bar from the ground up.

Gaspar’s Bar and Grill has stood just off 56th Street in Temple Terrace since 1960, and has been family owned ever since.

The recent renovation that began this year took four months. Ciaccio built what he called a boutique of a liquor store.  The doorknob on the inside is a musket, and pirate statues stand outside on the patio.  The beach theme is apparent from the mariner’s rope and wooden picnic tables that line the outside of the establishment.

Ciaccio said he believes in hard work and expects it from his employees.  He said he spends more time in his bar than he does at home.

Gaspar’s Bar and Grill got its name form Gaspar Ciaccio, Jimmy Ciaccio’s father, who left the bar to his son after he passed away in 2002.

“I have not stopped.  I have not stopped since I opened this place up in July,” Ciaccio said.  “I’ve been renovating and renovating and renovating.”

Ciaccio first renovated the main bar in 2000, then he moved to the patio.  Once the space next door became available, Ciaccio continued his expansion.

“Literally, there’s something for everybody,” said Amy Fiallo, a former health science major at the University of South Florida.  “We have three different bars.  Each one has its own different feel and atmosphere.”

Fiallo has been working at Gaspar’s Bar and Grill for 11 years.  Her mother still works there after more than 20 years.

Respect for employees is one of the four aspects of success listed on the menu at Gaspar’s Bar and Grill, and a value Ciaccio said he believes in.

“I treat them like they are my children,” Ciaccio said, referring to his employees.  “I remember Amy when she was a little girl.”

Ties to the community are also a key in the success of Gaspar’s Bar and Grill, Ciaccio said.

“I live here, I work here, me and my wife brought up our kids here,” he said.

This sense of community is not lost on patrons of the bar.

“Most of us grew up right here in Temple Terrace.  This has been our bar since we were kids,” said Robert Pierson, a regular at Gaspar’s.  “The same regulars have been coming to this bar for 30 years man.”

Jim Cook, a retired pharmacist and another regular, said he keeps coming back for the beer.

Ciaccio graduated from King High School in 1984. The school sits just up the road from his establishment.  He worked at the bar since he was a kid.

“My dad would say, ‘You got an F and made it into a B,’” Ciaccio said.  “I don’t know how I graduated.  I got straight F’s.”

Ciaccio said he wanted to work.

Ciaccio’s sense of community extends outside his bar in the form of philanthropy.  He donates to the American Cancer Society.  He once donated paper to King High School in its time of need.

“I want to support my school,” Ciaccio said.  “You got to be a giver in this world.”

Ciaccio did not fail to invite everyone to his bar.

“You’re going to have an experience when you come in here,” Ciaccio said.  “We want you to have a good time and tell a friend.”