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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Taps Wine and Beer Merchants opens in SKYPOINT Condo Building

By: Gary Shepherd For James DeVito, owner of newly opened Taps Wine and Beer Merchants in the SkyPoint condo building, the future is now.

Sure, downtown Tampa’s business climate may still be on the upswing, with the best days ahead. But, says DeVito, business has been fabulous since he opened on June 6, and he couldn’t be happier about how things are going.

“Our timing is good, and business is astonishingly good. We have to chase people out every night at closing,” says DeVito, a former Wall Street employee of Deutsche Bank. “Tampa really needed something like this. That’s what I hear all the time.”

His customers include a pre-theater crowd, visitors from Hyde Park and other local communities, as well as downtown workers and residents. “We definitely have a big happy hour crowd just about every day.”

And DeVito expects business to get even better – he just held his grand opening in late June, and he is just now opening up a Web site and doing other marketing.

The concept is unique: Half of the 1,850-square-foot business is devoted to beer, with about 25 beers on tap and another 275 sold by the bottle. As for wine, nearly 60 wines are on tap and about 100 are available by the bottle.

Taps uses “variety and technology as entertainment. The goal is to encourage our guests to experience our diverse collection of beer and wine,” said DeVito. More expensive wines are sold by the ounce or other small portions, so that customers can try exotic labels inexpensively if they wish to. Customers can by a swipe card that tracks purchases.

DeVito, who says opening Taps is a $500,000 gamble, says business has been great both for lunch and during the evenings. Taps, located in SkyPoint’s ground floor, seats about 130, and there is plenty of seating outside facing Ashley Street.

Taps menu includes sandwiches and salads at lunch, and tapas-style plates of food – cheeses, cured meats, fruits and breads.

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