Faith Cafe continues serving hope amid Midtown construction

There is a lot of dirt, noise, and heavy machinery near Interstate 275 on Dale Mabry Highway, where construction of Midtown Tampa is well underway. 

The mixed-use project sits on 22-acres of prime real estate. And in the middle of all this work, there's already a non-profit open.

Seven days a week, Faith Cafe hands out clothes, connects people with services, and gives warm food to folks in need.

"They come, they sit down, they eat their meal," said Ger Deloatche, Board Member of South Tampa Ecumenical Ministries. "We have a lot of people who simply join us for lunch because it helps with their expenses."

Guests dine in a restaurant-style atmosphere, served with a smile.

For 11 years, the cafe used to run out of a church rec-hall along Kennedy Boulevard. After buying some land and constructing the current building, Faith Cafe opened for business in the shadow of I-275 in 2013.

"The location has been a godsend," Deloatche said. "This allowed us to be in nobody's neighborhood, the interstate doesn't mind us, the TECO substation doesn't mind us."

Soon, the facility that's been quietly helping the community will also be in the shadow of skyscrapers.

Clearing the long-vacant land surrounding Faith Cafe started last summer, to make way for Midtown Tampa. Developer, the Bromley Companies, pieced together parcels of land at the site over at least two decades.

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"We've wanted to be deliberate about this land because it's a very special location and a special site waiting for the right development plan to see it forward, and we feel like we have that plan now," said Bromley Companies CEO, Nick Haines back in May.

The $500-million development's plans include a Whole Foods, apartments, office towers, a hotel, and retail space.

But tucked in the corner, Faith Cafe isn't going anywhere.           

"Our guests are so appreciative of what we can do for them that they don't want to lose it, so they're very respectful of where we are and what we do," Deloatche said. "We can share, we can coexist, we don't have to leave just because they're coming in."

Faith Cafe is open for lunch Monday through Saturday and offers dinner Sunday nights. Up to 90 people are fed every single day.

Midtown Tampa is expected to be completed in early 2021.