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Experimental Roosevelt 2.0 in Ybor City closes; new plans in works

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Published:   |   Updated: September 24, 2013 at 04:47 PM

The Roosevelt 2.0 experimental retail and art/craft space in Ybor City has closed down and will likely be replaced by a new bar serving perhaps the hippest drinks around: Hard cider and the alcoholic beverage mead.

Those plans are still in the late-stage development phase, but likely will come to fruition, said the man who owns the Ybor City storefront building, adult-entertainment magnate Joe Redner.

“They still have to get their licenses and we’ll have to put drains and such for the brewing pots, but they probably will be in there in the next three or four months in some form,” Redner said.

While it ran, the Roosevelt 2.0 was an experiment in retail, where organizers rented floor space and shelf cubbies to outside craftspeople to sell their trinkets and art pieces. The funky loft space attracted a weekly farmer’s market that ran on Tuesday evenings and grew popular enough to expand out into the parking lots.

Redner says he holds no ill will to the Roosevelt 2.0 project or the farmer’s market, but the overall operation on North 15th Street simply didn’t deliver enough revenue to be sustainable, and he had to move in another direction.

The shift came abruptly. Tiffany Ferrechia helped organize that farmer’s market and said she received a text message Monday evening saying that the Roosevelt was closing. Ferrechia said she recently began scouting new places for the Tuesday night market, which averaged about 25 vendors weekly.

“I didn’t expect it would be so sudden,” Ferrechia said Tuesday. “The plain and simple fact is that it wasn’t bringing in the revenue to pay the rent. It was expensive for them.”

The Roosevelt tried several avenues to generate income, from special events such as a dinner featuring pioneering organic farmer Joel Salatin to starting a café. Another revenue source came from allowing Dave Smiles of Uriah’s Urban Farms to start a vertical growing operation on an interior wall of the brick building.

Smiles said Tuesday he started looking two weeks ago for another spot to grow his herbs and vegetables for local restaurants and hotels. On Tuesday, he moved the last of his farming operation to a new location adjacent to NetPark at Hillsborough Avenue and 56th Street.

“I knew what was coming down the pipes,” Smiles said. “I didn’t have enough time for it to play out exactly as I would have hoped, but nonetheless, we’ve secured this new facility. We’re moving on.”

A hard cider and mead bar would be something relatively new to Tampa, but hardly new on the drinking scene. The Cigar City Brewing tasting room that’s run by Redner’s son Joey serves mead, as do a few other select locations.

Mead in particular has been making a major comeback in the hipster set. Though not as old as beer or wine, mead is an ancient beverage that’s made by fermenting a solution of honey and water. Among other references, mead plays an especially important role in one of the earliest English-language poetic stories, Beowolf, where the heroes and royal characters vie for the honor and prestige of sitting on the “mead benches.” One particularly rough character is known as “a wrecker of mead-benches, rampaging among foes.”

rmullins@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7919 Twitter: @DailyDeadline

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