Gaspar’s Patio Bar and Grille
By Sarah Whitman
With a ‘Wow, didn’t even know this was here’ we chose a patio table, looked around and instantly took to the quirky, laid-back atmosphere.
The bar, open since 1960, features outdoor seascape murals, pirate statues and hanging buoy balls, all weathered just enough to look authentic. Inside, patrons can enjoy a first-class whiskey and bourbon bar. Another door leads to a classic billiards room.
“It’s fun because you have three different spots to go to with only one destination to drive to, kind of like bar hopping in one spot,” said customer Dan Thompson of Tampa.
Thompson echoed my first impression of the place.
It’s a relaxed scene, busy enough to seem lively but not pretentious. The bartenders are approachable and knowledgeable, the wait staff personable and quick. I noticed several customers brought their dogs.
We ordered drinks as a local singer/guitarist performed popular songs. (Musicians appearing regularly at Gaspar’s include Karl Kearney, Little Big Show and Patrick Foy.) My husband ordered beer and raw oysters. I went for the chicken tenders and fries.
Regulars come for the company, as much as the food and booze, owner Jimmy Ciaccio said.
Ciaccio learned the business from his father, Gaspar Ciaccio, who opened the 56th Street establishment under its original name, the Temple Terrace Lounge, at a time when the community was just blooming. A young Jimmy Ciaccio grew up watching his dad put customer’s needs first. As a preteen, he helped clean the bar on weekends.
In 1989, Jimmy Ciaccio took over as manager and renamed the bar Gaspar’s in 2002, after his father’s passing. He has overseen multiple renovations, including the interior bar remodel and the addition of a side-bar liquor store. A beer cave addition is currently under construction.
“I’m passionate about this establishment,” Ciaccio said. “This is in my blood. We are a landmark in the community. You cannot get this anywhere else.”
“I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good hang out spot to catch up with old friends or meeting some new ones,” said Mike Curry, of Tampa. “I have never had a bad time there.”
Thompson, a regular, likes that it’s family-friendly up to a certain time and a great place to eat as well as unwind.
“My favorite food would have to be the chicken wings, patty melt and the decent size oysters,” Thompson. “I really only drink beer but it’s always ice cold.”
My husband raved about his beer and oysters, which were the biggest I’ve ever seen. My chicken was good, not typical bar food. Other menu favorites include flatbread pizzas and burgers.
The bar serves wine and spirits, draft and craft beers. Popular shots include Fireball Cinnamon
Whiskey, Washington apple shots, Stillhouse moonshine and cinnamon toast crunch shots. My
husband and his buddies tried a couple shots, which didn’t disappoint. We played pool and darts inside when it started to rain.
We didn’t stick around late enough but Gaspar’s offers Karaokee nightly beginning at 9 p.m. Other
events include Wednesday open mic nights and painting parties. The bar often hosts community
events. In 2012, the Temple Terrace Chamber of Commerce named Gaspar’s Business of the Year.
Ciaccio himself has earned multiple business accolades.
People around town applaud Ciaccio for his involvement in Temple Terrace and willingness to support its citizens.
Local Jesse Lamar Stokes hosts an annual fundraiser at Gaspar’s for his organization, the Pink Magnolia Charities, which raises funds and awareness for breast cancer research and treatment.
Stokes chose Gaspar’s for the bar and its owner’s reputation.
“They are a pillar in the Temple Terrace community, almost everyone has been there once before to either eat, sing karaoke or hangout,” Stokes said. “(Ciaccio) cares about his costumers and community. He is supportive in more ways than one, as not only does he host our event, he and his employees market it. They make sure all of my guests are having the best experience possible.”
I definitely enjoyed my experience and suggest anyone, whether in town on vacation or a longtime Tampa resident who may not have heard about Gaspar’s, check it out.
Gaspar’s Patio Bar and Grille, 8448 N 56th St., is open from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m. daily. For more information, visit gasparspatio.com.
If you go…
Gaspar’s Patio Bar and Grille
8448 N 56th St., Temple Terrace
Photos by Eve Edelheit for VISIT FLORIDA Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners