Want to try the food at a bunch of restaurants in Tampa Bay but don't want to visit them all? It’s always great to visit a local taste event and sample dishes from many of the restaurants in the Tampa Bay area. You'll get to taste samples of signatures dishes, tantalizing desserts, delicious and diverse offerings from the top participating restaurants.
The Ybor City Culinaria Experience from May 18-27 takes this opportunity a step further and offers you the chance to actually meet the Chefs at various Ybor restaurants and even participate in a cooking seminar with them! The goal of the 10 day event is to emphasize the history of Ybor City, the many dining opportunities there, and increase foot traffic into and around the district.
King Corona: Cigar and beer pairing Wednesday, May 23rd at 5:00pm
When you walk into King Corona, you can’t help but notice the savory mixture of cigar smoke and coffee, and enjoy watching the men with their Fedora hats, cigars in hand, sitting on the sidewalk café, reading newspapers, talking, watching the world go by – and at any time of day. What a tribute to the history of Ybor.
Owner Don Barco grew up in the Tampa area, “Ybor City was my downtown back in the day, and it was also the cigar manufacturing mecca of the world.”
After High School, I went into the army, then moved into construction and in the early 80s I hurt my back. My father in law needed help with his cigar manufacturing business called Tampa Reco over in Ybor Square. I joined him for what I thought was just going to be for a few months and now here I am still. Back then we were manufacturing cigars, were making them by hand and by machine, and had three retail stores, retail mail order, and a wholesale business.
At the time I was running all of that and raising my two kids at the same time. As things evolved, Ybor square closed as a retail market place and this location came open. My father in law was retiring and we were in the process of me buying out the business. I jumped on this place…so that is how King Corona got started.
We began as just a cigar place because that is what I knew. I did well, but I eventually started having customers ask me where they could have a cup of coffee and smoke a cigar. I got tired of hearing that after awhile so I opened up a coffee bar. The same thing followed where people started to ask where they could have a glass of wine or a beer with a cigar so I added a beer and wine license, and then the questions were about where customers could get a sandwich, so we added food.
So that’s where we are now. It took about three years to get to that point. Our core business is still cigars and everything else caters to my cigar customers. I have many customers who don’t smoke, but they come in here because they like the ambiance – it’s very casual, comfortable, and allows people to come in and socialize and get to know one another. It’s almost impossible not to do that if you are sitting down having a cigar.
I feel very lucky to be established here now for 14 years -- any business staying open the first three years is difficult -- we managed to do that and oddly enough even with the economic turndown, we have been thriving and growing. We’ve reached a point now where Ybor city is in a better place now than I’ve ever seen it since I was a child.
I jokingly refer to King Corona as Ybor City’s ‘Cheers.’ People like to come here to hang out,meet friends, and listen to music. The vibe in here is just comfortable. And that’s what we have always tried to do with Ybor City, just make it a comfortable place for people to be.”
Visit King Corona at www.kingcoronacigars.com. 1523 East 7th Avenue, (813) 241-9109.King
Reserve your ticket now! This class is limited to 25 participants!