Coffee, clothing, Co-Work merge at Ybor City cafe

- Among the clubs and restaurants along 7th Avenue in the entertainment district of Ybor City is a coffee shop. But there's more than one product brewing inside the Blind Tiger Cafe.

Before there was coffee, there was clothing.

"We started our parent company six years ago, it's called black and denim," said Blind Tiger Cafe President Roberto Torres.

The Black and Denim clothing company features trendy T-shirts and other fashion items now displayed on the walls in the cafe.

"We didn't really have a community hub or footprint in the community so we thought we were going to open a  small outpost in Ybor City, outgrew a space and we created an entire coffee company as an anchor to the brand," said Torres.

But the coffee business took off.

"I think that the idea was we were going to introduce more people to the brand with this coffee company and more of those customers became coffee customers," said Torres.

While the coffee beans are from different countries, the merchandise as a whole has a Tampa flavor.

"So the idea was creating products that we were proud that people from Tampa would be proud of wearing,  so we created hats, t-shirts that embody that Tampa feel," said Torres.

The sandwiches sold in the cafe come from the Inside The Box catering by the Tampa non-profit, Metropolitan

Ministries.
"It's for a good cause. Every sandwich gets delivered fresh every day and it's an opportunity in our culinary program to teach people employable skills so they can regain or enter the workforce," said Torres.

When some additional space opened up next door, the business expanded, offering workspace for rent. It's called Co-Work Ybor.

"Our primary target is really looking for creatives, people in graphic design, work design, tech so they can come and be attached to the coffee shop", said Torres.

And things have percolated.

"There are five successful companies that have launched from Co-Work Ybor some of them are in the food space, some of them are in the tech space, some of them are in the retail space," said Torres.

The cafe seeks to attract out of town guests as well with products now being sold at Tampa International Airport.

"I think the idea that whenever somebody comes out of an airplane or someone comes and visit and they want to experience Ybor City we can add to that attraction by being a tourist destination," said Torres.

For more information on the Blind Tiger Cafe, visit https://www.blindtigercafe.com/.

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