Hamburger Helper For Ybor

For all too long it’s been acknowledged that Ybor City needed to broaden its appeal beyond those drawn to tattoo parlors and really loud night clubs. The middle-aged, the un-pierced and the non-rapping favor grown-up retail, decent decibel ambiance and negligible hint of street crime, underage drinking and ad hoc vomitoriums.   


So, thank you GaYbor District Coalition – and Centro Ybor.


The coalition has been leading diversification efforts – and in the process confirming a politically correct stereotype. Gays are good for business. A form of commercial gentrification, if you will. Well-run, well-patronized businesses are catalytic. And when gay-themed establishments are recognized as fun and quirky, they transcend the sexual-preference market niche. A good time is a good time is a good business environment is a good investment.


Enter Hamburger Mary’s. Actually, later this year. It’s a relatively inexpensive restaurant that will take over the space formerly occupied by Dish on the second floor of Centro Ybor. Hamburger Mary’s is a highly successful, nine-restaurant chain (including San Francisco, Chicago and Orlando) that bills itself as “the only national franchise actively marketing itself to the gay community.” It’s as well known for its eclectic diner mix as its wild-hued décor and colorful atmosphere. It’s expected to attract a sizable following.

Which is exactly what Ybor needs.


And it wouldn’t have happened had it not been for Centro’s owner, M & J Wilkows. Rather than wring its hands over Ybor’s well-chronicled issues or shoehorn problematic tenants in to avoid the plywood signs of closure, it stuck with its plan to revitalize retail. They know what doesn’t work. Teatro recently opened to favorable reviews. And Hamburger Mary’s is less than three months away.

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