Monday Morning Memo

Monday, January 21, 2019

Board Member Spotlight: Ronald L. Vaughn

Ronald L. Vaughn has served as president of The University of Tampa since January 1995. Under his leadership, the University has grown and expanded unlike any period in its previous history. During his tenure, University enrollments have nearly tripled, new enrollment records have been set in each of the last 22 years and academic programs have been expanded to more than 200 areas of study, including 16 graduate programs with eleven concentrations and three 4+1 programs in the fields of business, criminology, cybersecurity, education, exercise science, nursing and writing.

Since 1995, the University’s annual revenue has increased from $28 million to $300 million for the 2018-2019 academic year. The record growth has fueled dynamic improvements in both the academic and student life areas. There are 1,600 full-time, part-time and vendor-contracted employees and 1,700 students employed on campus. Since 1998, more than $600 million of construction has been completed or is underway. President Vaughn also helped UT successfully complete its first comprehensive capital campaign by raising $84 million.

President Vaughn came to The University of Tampa in August 1984 as the coordinator of the marketing department and holder of the Max H. Hollingsworth Endowed Chair of American Enterprise. He also served as director of the MBA program, dean of the College of Business and Graduate Studies and co-chief academic officer.

President Vaughn has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and an MBA from Indiana State University, and a doctorate in marketing from the University of Georgia. He also owned his own multi-office marketing research/consulting company where he worked on several hundred projects for a broad clientele. During his academic career at Bradley University, he served as a faculty member and chairman of the marketing department.

President Vaughn enjoys fishing, pheasant hunting, tennis, basketball and traveling. His daughter, Susan, is a University of Tampa graduate and graduated with her veterinary medicine doctorate from the University of Florida. His wife, Renée, is the president of the Williams Consulting Group, a public relations and marketing firm in Tampa. She is active in the Tampa Bay community as past chair of the Leadership Tampa Class of 2014, past chair of Leadership Tampa Alumni and past-president of both the Red Cross Angels and the HB Plant Museum. In 2015, she received the prestigious Parke Wright III Leadership Award from Leadership Tampa Alumni and was named a Woman of Distinction by the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida. She is the 2016 Chair of the Circle of Red for the American Heart Association. The Vaughns serve on numerous community boards and committees.

Learn more.

Partnership Staff Announcements

Kacie Blucher has been promoted from Bookeeper and Executive Assistant to Business Manager. Kacie’s expertise and attention to detail is a vital asset to the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s financial management. Her efforts ensure the financial integrity of the Partnership.

Lindsey Parks has been named the Membership Manager for the Junior League of Tampa. In her role, Lindsey will oversee the organizations more than 2,000 Provisional, Active and Sustaining members. This group of dedicated women includes executives, community leaders, entrepreneurs, mothers, and professionals from diverse backgrounds. Founded in 1926, The Junior League of Tampa, Inc. is committed to promoting voluntarism, developing the potential of women, and improving communities through effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Its purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.

Congratulations Kacie and Lindsey!

Thank You for Your Donations

The Tampa Downtown Partnership would like to thank the following Downtown businesses for your generous contributions towards “Thank You” bags for Tampa’s Downtown Clean Team and Guides. Each day, the Guides offer directions, restaurant suggestions, and assist stranded motorists, while the Clean Team maintains the sidewalks and gutters through litter abatement and maintenance, to include sidewalk pressure washing and beautification of the big orange potted plants.  As a vital part of the Downtown Security Network, both teams act as additional eyes and ears to help patrol downtown and report suspicious activity.

Thank you for your recognition and gifts:

  • Yacht StarShip Dining Cruises
  • Tower Realty Partners
  • Samaria Café
  • Moxie’s Café
  • The Hall on Franklin
  • Bank of Tampa
  • Marriott Waterside
  • Lector
  • Stageworks Theatre
  • Hilton Starbucks
  • Tampa Bay History Center
  • 100 North (Cushman & Wakefield)
  • Straz Center
  • City Market Eats & Yeoman’s Cask & Lion
  • Courtyard & Residence Inn
  • American victory Ship
  • Tampa Theatre
  • Jerk Hut
  • SLH Property Management Services Inc
  • Barrymore Hotel
  • Tropical Smoothie Café

Urban Excellence Award Winners Focus: Heights Public Market

Armature Works and SoHo Capital were awarded the 2018 Urban Excellence Landmark Development Award for their Heights Public Market project. Heights Public Market is a food-lover’s dream and a truly innovative concept in Tampa. The 22,000 sq-ft industrial market features an open floor plan with communal seating surrounded by restaurants showcasing the top chefs and restaurateurs in the Bay Area. Heights Public Market also includes a “Show + Tell” workshop that hosts an array of events such as cooking classes, wine tastings and pop-up dinners in collaboration with market tenants. Learn more about the Heights Public Market here.

About the award: This award recognizes an iconic building that serves as a magnet to attract people to Downtown by improving the physical environment or by enhancing the economic, cultural or social well-being of the area.

Finalists are chosen through a three-step process. First, the Tampa Downtown Partnership invites the public to submit nominations for each category. When the nomination period closes, each submission is considered based on the criteria set within each category. Finally, a panel of jurors representing a cross-section of downtown constituencies evaluate the nominations on a scale of 1-10 based on the criteria and their relation to six topics; innovation, creativity, engagement, sustainability, advancement, and impact.

See all of the winners.

Mayoral Candidate Forum: What You May Have Missed

Thank you to everyone who attended our sold-out 2019 Mayoral Candidate Forum at the Rialto Theatre, presented by AdeasQ. With over 200 in attendance, the candidates were able to share their priorities on issues relating to our urban core. The event received coverage from many local media outlets. To view the articles, please visit our newsroom. Below are video clips from broadcasts. View photos taken by EDGE Business Magazine here.

Broadcast coverage January 16:

WFTS at 6am
News Ch8 at 5pm Live
News Ch8 at 6pm Live
FOX 13 Live at 10pm (replayed at 11pm)
FOX 13 online

Media coverage January 17:

FOX 13 at 4am
FOX 13 at 5am


Event Presented by

Platinum Sponsors: AARP Tampa Bay

Gold Sponsors: The Leytham Group, Related Group, Rialto Theatre
Silver Sponsors: Gray | Robinson, RSA Consulting, Tampa Housing Authority

Downtown Security Network Event: Human Trafficking

This edition of the Tampa Downtown Partnership Quarterly Downtown Security Network Breakfast will focus on human trafficking awareness and response. The discussion will include what signs property managers, security professionals, business leaders, and other stakeholders should be on the lookout for and how to take action. The event will take place January 24 at TECO Hall in Tampa’s Downtown with breakfast and registration starting at 7:15am and the program running 8am to 9am.

Moderator: Natasha Nascimento, Founder/Executive Director of Redefining Refuge


Captain Geoffrey Harris
Special Investigations Division
Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department
Tampa Bay Human Trafficking Task Force Board

Major Mike Hutner
Criminal Investigation Division
Tampa Police Department

Gina Evans
Director, Government Relations
Tampa International Airport

Mark Dubina
Vice President of Security
Tampa Port Authority

Amanda Catarzi
Intake Counselor
Selah Freedom


Robert Lucio, PhD, LCSW
Associate Professor, Graduate Social Work
College of Education & Social Services
Saint Leo University

Lisa Rapp-McCall, MSW, PhD
Professor, Graduate Social Work
College of Education & Social Services
Research Associate, Maribeth Durst Applied Research Institute
Saint Leo University

Click here to register

Tampa Bay Wave Now Accepting TechDiversity Cohort Applications

Tampa Bay Wave and the Neilsen Foundation are now accepting applications for the 2019 TechDiversity accelerator cohort.

The Tampa Bay Wave TechDiversity Accelerator Program gives entrepreneurs of varied backgrounds an opportunity to leverage their diversity for the expressed purpose of realizing their aspirations of success and to make a positive impact on our growing technology community.

Applications are being accepted now through March 31. Learn more.

Mole Y Abuela Set to Open in Downtown

Lanfranco Pescante wants to be clear: Mole Y Abuela is not a Mexican restaurant.

It is, he says, a Spanish, Mediterranean and Mexican fusion restaurant, with an emphasis on tapas. It will open in early February in a space that was previously home to Fly Bar in downtown Tampa.

“I didn’t want to do another Mexican restaurant,” Pescante, a partner in Nocturnal Hospitality Group, said Monday. “There are plenty out there — plenty of great ones. And we didn’t want to do straight Spanish [food] — we wanted to do a nice fusion with really good, old Mediterranean flair.”

The restaurant will open with dinner service only, with the full menu also available at the rooftop bar.

Mole Y Abuela is the latest concept from Nocturnal, which is controlled by Pescante and his business partner, David Anderson. Their silent investors vary by project. Celebrity chef Fabio Viviani, who made his Tampa Bay debut with Nocturnal’s Osteria, is also a partner in Mole Y Abuela.

The debut of Mole Y Abuela in the Fly Bar space came about almost serendipitously. Early on in their Osteria partnership, Pescante says, Viviani started talking to him and Anderson about other potential concepts, and Mole Y Abuela was one of the ones on the drawing board.

When the owner of Fly Bar decided to put her real estate on the market, the real estate broker she hired to list the property reached out to Anderson — they’d gone to elementary school together, and the broker knew of Nocturnal’s ambitions of populating the North Franklin Street corridor with their restaurant concepts. Nocturnal was able to negotiate a deal before the property ever went on the market.

“We try to find a concept that matches the building, and this building kind of screams that,” Pescante said. “I couldn’t do an Asian concept in here with the wood and the brick; it wouldn’t work.”

“Go inside Mole Y Abuela, the new restaurant in the former Fly Bar space in downtown Tampa (Photos)”Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

Tampa Convention Center Readies for New Restaurant Opening

The popular Punta Gorda-based crab house, Harpoon Harry’s Crab House Tampa, is finally ready to debut after two delays last year.

Managing partner Ronald Evans said a number of challenges arose at their space near the Tampa Convention Center at 225 S Franklin St. He said they faced several problems turning a blank, empty space into a restaurant decked out with all custom-made wood decor.

“When we went in, we didn’t know what we didn’t know,” Evans said.

“It was a lot more complicated than we ever thought, but we think it will be well received and Tampa will be very happy with the quality of our food and our service.”

Crabs are a big part of what they do at Harpoon Harry’s, which is why Ron Evans and his partners, executive chef Eric Lackey and general manager John Lillibridge, decided to place a 10-foot-tall blue crab on the outside of the building.

The casual seafood spot offers a wide selection of crab, including king crab, blue crab, snow crab, deviled crab and stone crab claws from the Florida Keys, and a variety of seafood dishes all served from a basket such as shrimp, fresh grouper, sea scallops, calamari, lobster and more.

Evans also believes guests will love the 40-foot-long sushi and oyster bar, serving a variety of shareable platters and plates.

“Although we’re an open air, very casual seafood restaurant, we wanted to add another dimension and that’s upscale dining,” Evans said.

The space has both an indoor and outdoor bar, and two levels with a balcony for outside seating so guests can enjoy seafood and cocktails while overseeing downtown.

Harpoon Harry’s Crab House plans to open on Thursday (Jan 24) and will operate from 11a.m. to 10 p.m. during the week and from 11 a.m. to midnight or later on the weekends.

For more information visit

“Harpoon Harry’s prepares to open in downtown Tampa”Tampa Bay Times

City of Tampa to Re-Issue Request for E-Scooter Pilot Program

The electronic shared scooter pilot program that the city of Tampa hoped to launch as early as February has hit a road bump.

City leaders decided to reissue the request for applications to modify the indemnification language in the application, Jean Duncan, transportation and stormwater services department director, told the Tampa Bay Business Journal via email.

The reissued request, which hasn’t published yet, means that all the companies that originally submitted an application in mid-October when it was advertised will now have their applications tossed out. Interested companies included Bird Rides Inc., JUMP, Gotcha Mobility LLC and many others.

The new application deadline is Feb. 11. The city is still seeking applications to select up to three operators to provide motorized scooter sharing services in designated areas as part of a Shared Motorized Scooter Pilot Program.

City officials will provide the recommended three vendors for city council approval at the March 21 council meeting and expects the one-year pilot project to get underway by April 1, Duncan said.

The original proposed program stated that vendors were to supply a total of 1,800 dockless scooters that would be placed in different areas throughout downtown and kept in corrals.

The language also stated the operators must be able to provide revenue share data with the city for future revenue sharing options between the operator and city; financial viability and stability, and adequacy of insurance; experience operating shared mobility device systems; and provide public education and engagement strategies for helmet use and road safety compliance, among other items.

The motorized scooters are not legal to operate on public roads, but users can ride them on sidewalks and multi-use paths. The scooters can go as fast as 5 to 8 mph.

Duncan previously said the city would look at the performance measures at the end of the year to evaluate the different companies, and assuming it all goes well, would issue another RFP that will probably select one sole vendor to serve the city.

Other nearby cities are also looking into having e-scooters. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman met with San Francisco-based scooter company Spin this week and previously met with Lime, an e-scooter operator that’s widely known in the industry.

“We want to see how it unfolds in Tampa first,” St. Petersburg Communications Director Ben Kirby told the TBBJ.

“Tampa tosses out bids for e-scooter pilot program, will reissue request for applications”Tampa Bay Business Journal (subscription required)

Downtown Calendar

Your Downtown Calendar

The following is just a sample of upcoming events in Downtown Tampa.  Visit the Downtown Tampa Events Calendar for a more comprehensive list.


Through Wednesday, January 23
Tampa Theatre
Winner of Best Film at the Venice Film Festival, and one of the most highly-acclaimed films of the year, Roma is a sumptuous and compassionate masterpiece, a portrait painted on a huge canvas that centers on lives that some might think small. Set in Mexico City in the early 1970s, it tells the story of a young indigenous woman who works as a maid for a middle-class white family that’s falling apart. For more information, go to Roma.

Downtown Security Network: Human Trafficking

Thursday, January 24, begins 7:15am
This edition of the Tampa Downtown Partnership’s Quarterly Downtown Security Network Breakfast will focus on human trafficking awareness and response. The discussion will include what signs property managers, security professionals, business leaders, and other stakeholders should be on the lookout for and how to take action. Also, hear from two Saint Leo Professors on their Florida specific and National data results gathered through the Saint Leo Polling Institute on Human Trafficking Awareness. For more information, go to Downtown Security Network: Human Trafficking.

Fourth Friday

Friday, January 25, 4pm to 10pm
Downtown Tampa and Ybor City
When the sun goes down, the streets of Tampa and Ybor will light up with music, laughter, art, friends and FREE fun. This evening of special offerings and programs by cultural venues, restaurants, and more takes place on the fourth Friday of every month! For more info, go to Fourth Friday.

Gasparilla Parade of Pirates

Saturday, January 26, begins 2pm
Downtown Tampa and Bayshore Boulevard
To celebrate their capture of the City of Tampa, the Captain and his Krewe share their glittering beads, treasures, and doubloons with a lively, enthusiastic crowd all along the 4.5 mile parade route. “Make way, mateys!” shout Tampa’s original buccaneers as they wind their way down historic Bayshore Boulevard and into Downtown Tampa amidst colorful costumes and festive music. The parade will boast over 140 units, including more than 103 elaborate floats, 5 marching bands, over 50 distinct Krewes and, of course, those infamous pirates! For more information, go to Gasparilla Parade of Pirates.

Gasparilla Jazzfest

Sunday, January 27, 10am to 4pm
Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park
This inaugural jazz celebration will feature live entertainment to give you an enjoyable ending to Tampa’s liveliest weekend. The event is family friendly and free to attend. There will be several vendors and food trucks on site, each with a variety of brunch options available to purchase. Smooth jazz artist Najee will headline the show. For more information, go to Gasparilla Jazzfest.

Taking the Stage at the Straz Center

Othello by William Shakespeare – Through February 3 (In Jobsite Theatre)
Hundred Days – Through Sunday, March 24
Carrie Newcomer – Monday, January 21, begins 7:30pm
Patel Conservatory presents: Music Faculty New Works Recital – Tuesday, January 22, begins 6pm
Opera Socials Cocktail Reception – Wednesday, January 23, begins 5:30pm
Russell Peters: Deported World Tour – Saturday, January 26, begins 8:30pm

Connect With Us!

Connect with us on social media to get the latest on downtown events!

Monday Morning Memo –Monday Morning Memo is a weekly update of “insider downtown information” regarding developments, transportation, special opportunities and other useful information to help you make the most of downtown. Subscribe to receive this weekly newsletter.

Sign Up Now