Tampa’s Underrated Cuisine

cuban food photo

Yahoo Food has an article up ranking forty of the best cities in the U.S. for food lovers. You can find that article here. The article lists the cities for their culinary contributions and the unique experiences their most popular restaurants provide. The one thing that seemed off about the article is that while Florida does get some representation, the entire Tampa Bay area is absent from the list. Oddly, Jacksonville makes the top forty, but not Tampa? We smell something fishy, and it is not a seafood restaurant.

Tampa has a rich culinary tradition. For starters, being on the Gulf Coast, we have access to some of the freshest seafood possible. There are few places in the U.S. where one can find a better selection of seafood. It is not just expensive, pretentious dishes we are talking about either. There are sports bars in Tampa with seafood dishes that outshine most of what is on offer across the country.

What about Cuban sandwiches? We have got the closest thing to actually travelling to Cuba for one, despite what the pretenders in Miami tell you. In fact, Tampa is basically the nation’s epicenter for Cuban cuisine. No one does it better. They put Miami on the list for their Cuban cuisine when Tampa has done it better from the beginning. They even admit that Tampa originated some of the cuisine they credit Miami for. Do you still wonder why Tampa should feel slighted by this list?

Some of the cities listed in their article do not even boast any real famous restaurants. They show up on the list only for signature cuisine. We covered that part. As for well-known, nationally recognized establishments, we have plenty. The Tampa Bay Times put together this list a couple years ago, and the list still holds up today. You want to eat where the “cool” people eat? We have you covered there.

We are not saying we should top the list. It is tough to argue our place above cities like New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc. Certainly, however, we should have at least beaten out Jacksonville. Seriously, Jacksonville?

Photo by jeffreyw

The Path to Growth

millennials photo

There is growing confidence in the housing market, and that confidence is being driven by millennials who are currently renting, and their growing desire to buy homes. This finding, reported by AOL Real Estate, shows that there is reason to believe that substantial growth in the housing sector will come when millennials currently renting homes are able to buy. The question becomes, how do we enable them to do so?

This is a challenge, since many millennials are strapped with sizeable student debt and high rent payments on their current residences. Many theories have been put forward on ways to deal with the student debt. Some look to allow for refinancing of student debt at lower interest rates. Some call for more lenient debt forgiveness terms. Others are taking a more active approach, such as the groups buying student debt for the sole purpose of cancelling it. Of course, others look to institutional solutions. Many want to reform the policies of for-profit colleges. Others want to change terms for distributing student loans to begin with, making them harder to get. There are so many potential solutions out there, it is difficult to say which will produce the most results.

This, of course, does not tackle the other elephant in the room, high rent payments that keep young adults from saving for a down payment. There are not as many solutions here. It is extremely difficult to regulate rents. Perhaps the best way to combat this would be to secure higher salaries for young workers. Of course, this does nothing to keep rents from going higher. There truly are no easy answers.

The growth that many see hope for with millennials seeking homes of their own will struggle to come so long as they continue to have trouble finding ways to pay for it. These are questions we need to answer not just for the growth of the housing industry, but for the overall success of the economy as well.

Photo by itupictures

Keep An Eye On Mortgage Rates

Mortgage rates are on the rise again. According to Daily Finance, rates on several different types of mortgages rose within the past week. If the trend continues, you may see rates on  mortgages get too pricey for some buyers. Now may well be the time to buy if you have been on the fence for some time. Getting in the game now can save you thousands later.

Since the recovery from the Great Recession, mortgage rates have been very low for buyers looking for a new place. This has led to a situation where homes do not stay on the market since market values are still somewhat low, and mortgage rates have been very favorable to buyers. Investors, as well as people looking to get a deal on a move, have been snapping up these homes in record time.

Now, with the better foreclosure deals having come and gone, and investors seeing the rising prices as reason to hesitate, the market is starting to shift. This is contributing to the rise in mortgage rates. Should the rates continue to rise, fewer people are going to be looking to buy, and market value on homes shall rise. Thus, all ends of a transaction will get more expensive. As a result, now is the time to buy, as you can still get in while the prices are affordable. Holding off could mean having to pay a great deal more.

Sellers should consider getting into the market now as well. If prices start climbing more, buyers are going to leave the market. While you might be able to get more money then, as you have more leverage, your home will likely end up sitting on the market longer at a higher price.It is a delicate balancing act. Either way, getting in now could put you at the forefront as rates rise.

If you are looking to get into the real estate market, keep a close eye on these trends. Not being on top of these things could be a costly mistake.

2014 Bucs Predictions Part 3

(This article contains the opinions of Marketing Consultant Fred Moutran and may not reflect those of the Bonnie Barbieri Team as a whole)

A Promising Schedule- The Bucs have a schedule that, on paper, should be a boon to them. They sit in a questionable division. They have games against weak teams in Cleveland and Washington, and St. Louis. They play against the NFC North, where the Vikings and Bears could have a tough year ahead of them. Games against teams such as the Saints, Ravens, Steelers, and Packers will likely be extremely tough games the Bucs would have an exceedingly difficult time walking away with a win from. Sneaking away with a winning record with a couple of upsets putting them in playoff contention is not out of the realm of possibility.

Predictions- The chances for the Bucs to come out of 2014 with a winning record hinge mostly on the team’s ability to adapt to a new system and the success of their passing game. The schedule helps more than hinders their chances. There is likely little chance of the team breaking into the upper tier of the league this season, but winning enough for a wild card playoff berth is not an impossible scenario. A stretch, but not impossible. With the conference being top-heavy, featuring one really strong team in each division with a supporting cast of mediocre squads, the wild card race come the end of the season should be wide open.

That said, there really are too many uncertain aspects of the team’s make-up this year to say that can make into the post-season with any real confidence. There are plenty of middle-of-the road teams that they could go either way against on that schedule. I doubt they will be bad enough to fall below six wins with a schedule with so many stinkers on it, but they will probably be hard-pressed to come up with enough luck to break .500. If I had to place a definitive number on it, I would split the difference and say they will hit 7-9 this year.

2014 Bucs Predictions Part 2

(This article contains the opinions of Marketing Consultant Fred Moutran and may not reflect those of the Bonnie Barbieri Team as a whole)

A lot of pressure is going to be placed on receiver Vincent Jackson and running back Doug Martin to be the big-play guys for the team. Both are solid players, but whether they can be the cornerstone of an offense remains to be seen. Vincent Jackson has been going strong for a decade and may be on the tail-end of his career. Doug Martin is still young, but has not really stood out compared to other starting rushers around the league. With an offense that will emphasize the ground game, he may get more of an opportunity than he has previously to stand out and make his mark.

A Young Defense- Many of the starting defensive players for the Bucs have about five years experience. They are not quite tried-and-tested veterans, but they are not rookies either. Most of them are at a point in their career where they have to step up and make a name for themselves in order to keep their value high for their next contracts. There really are not any proven commodities on this defense. However, now is their chance to shine under a new coach that excels at managing defenses.

A Division in Flux- The NFC South, the division the Bucs call home is in a rebuilding phase. The New Orleans Saints are still a strong team, but the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers join the Bucs as being teams looking to re-define themselves. The Panthers struggled considerably last year, but they could very well have the talent to bounce back. The Falcons a bit harder to predict this year. They struggled last year, stayed fairly quiet in the offseason, yet many still consider them a potential number two team in the division. That could be a testament to the weakness of the division as a whole, or some people may be thinking that this will be a comeback year for Matt Ryan.

2014 Bucs Predictions Part 1

(This article contains the opinions of Marketing Consultant Fred Moutran and may not reflect those of the Bonnie Barbieri Team as a whole)

By the time this article gets published, football season will have begun. The pre-season is over, the starting rosters have been filled, it is time to resume the Sunday (and Monday and Thursday night) ritual of gathering around the television and questioning the officials as you cheer on your team. Here in the Tampa Bay area, our home team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have been generating plenty of headlines going into this season. Here is a look at some of the biggest stories of the offseason and thoughts on what the current season holds for the Bucs.

New Coach, New Look – This will be the first season for new coach Lovie Smith. Smith has had a proven track record of success dating back several years when he brought the Chicago Bears to a conference championship. This is first coach with that strong of a record of success since Jon Gruden led the Bucs to a Super Bowl victory in 2003.

The Bucs also want to complete the overhaul of their image through their new uniforms. The new look has sparked plenty of debate. Some love it, some hate it, either way it is here and looks to be sticking around for the long term.

Unproven Offense- The Bucs are looking at starting Josh McCown at quarterback. McCown is a veteran of the league, but not at the starting position. Having spent most of his career as a back-up, he has to step up to take the helm of this offense. Coach Smith may not hesitate, should McCown falter to give young upstart Mike Glennon some time under center. Either way, the Bucs have one of biggest question marks at the quarterback position in the league. They have the talent to succeed, we have seen them put together some strong drives in the past, but the concern hinges on if that success can be maintained.

Events to Check Out: Tampa Bay Comic Con

We have said it before, but it holds true enough to repeat. There is always something to do in the Tampa Bay area. This video we found on YouTube is from the annual Tampa Bay Comic Con. In one of the bigger annual events in the area, fans come from all over to see the panels with their favorite stars, directors, writers, etc., from TV, movies, comics and more. There are all sorts of other booths with various attractions and items for sale. Some people go just to admire the creativity of the cosplayers (that’s costumed play, or dressing up like your favorite superhero or TV character for those unfamiliar with the term). It is truly one of the more anticipated events in the area each year. For more information about the event, go to: http://www.tampabaycomiccon.com/

Return of the Binishell

binishell photo

Would you be willing to live in a home built from a concrete dome? A revolutionary architect is betting that enough people would. The idea first came to be in 1967, when Italian architect Dante Bini first displayed his concept for a home built by pouring a concrete shell around a huge, inflated balloon. Over 1,600 of these homes currently exist spread over twenty-three countries.  Now Dante’s son, Nicolo Bini, is trying to revive the concept. Enter, the return of the Binishell.

The new prototype homes,which cost as little as $3,500 to build, are easy to construct, durable, eco-friendly, and cost effective. According to the Binishells website, these homes are constructed three times faster than most homes, with a third of the carbon footprint, and using half the resources. They also claim reduced operating costs and reduced maintenance and upkeep.

Nicolo Bini claims that some of the original homes have survived extreme conditions caused by natural disasters that would have wiped out most traditional homes, and they continue to do so over fifty years later. This makes them some of the most durable modern home designs out there.

That said, these homes are not without their downsides. Running plumbing or wiring into them presents a challenge as they cannot be run through the concrete frame. The rounded edges of the homes make finding effective use of wallspace a challenge. However, these are things that can be overcome with a little engineering or design wizardry.

Overall, this is certainly an innovative concept, even if it is the revival of one that has been around since the 1960s. With the move towards more affordable, eco-friendly housing, this could be an idea that really takes off. With many people today looking for artistic flair in their homes in addition to the usual amenities, this could be just unique enough to really catch on with that crowd. I, for one, am interested to see how this venture turns out.

Photo by BobMeade

The Future of Affordable Homes

Modern Transportable House

Modern Transportable House (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There has been a lot of talk in the past year about the possibilities for more efficiently built manufactured homes. Speculation about homes built entirely by 3D printers seemed like something that could be decent option for manufacturers a year or two down the road. Well, the reality has hit us sooner than we think.

Enter, Facit Homes in Hertfordshire, England. They have successfully built a prototype home on-site, using a digital manufacturing process. While not quite the 3D printing “push of a button” method of construction, this prototype was built using an on-site factory that was able to cut prime all of the pieces necessary for the structural necessities of the home. The frame, the walls, all of it being manufactured right there on the spot.

Facit’s Mobile Production Facility, or MPF, is capable of doing all of this right there at the job site, with a higher degree of accuracy than machines operated by human workers. The process of preparing the parts is all automated, all workers have to do is plug data into the system and get it started.

These are not just tiny mobile homes, either. The first of these projects was a 2,153 square foot home with numerous energy efficient design choices. Their current project, for which they just packed up the MPF and travelled to the new job site, 4,843 square foot home. That is a rather large structure by pre-fabricated housing standards. Yet the mechanized process performed admirably.

With advances such as this patented design and 3D printing technology on the brink of producing “printed” houses right there on the spot, the future of home construction looks to be brighter and more affordable than ever. As these new construction methods drive prices down, these new homes will become more affordable. Soon, there is reason to hope that affordable housing may in fact be within reach for anyone.