Tampa awoke this morning, Wednesday, March 23, to the news and the name of the new Mayor of Tampa, selected by the voters of Tampa in yesterday’s runoff election between Bob Buckhorn and Rose Ferlita.
And Bruce Frechette, owner of the Hot Donut Company, a food truck in downtown Tampa, stationed hard by the office the new mayor will occupy, says he called the winner.
“Yeah, my exit poll said Bob,” Bruce says, as he nonchalantly tapes up the first section of the local morning newspaper across the glass of his gaily colored truck.
The newspaper’s front page headline trumpets, “On April 1st, he’ll be Mayor Buckhorn.”
Hmmm. The Hot Donut Company is open Monday thru Friday from 6AM to 10:30AM The polls were open until 7PM.
“Well, Bruce says, The quality of the voter in a mayoral race is higher, demographics and all, and look around, all of my customers you’ll see here a little later vote, and a lot of them work for the city so they have a bigger commitment, and they all vote early.”
April 1st, the day, the new Mayor Buckhorn will take up his new office just a donut’s throw from the Hot Donut Company is an auspicuous day for Frechette, too.
He opened The Hot Donut Company April 1st, 1986. Twenty-Five years of conducting exit polls and serving up his own donuts made on the premises, and serving up some of the best coffee in downtown Tampa, have made him a well known and popular figure in the buzzing early morning downtown area.
“He’ll be a good mayor,” Frechette says, “Bob knows the deal, he’s one of my customers. Now, Pam, (departing mayor Pam Iorio never came by, but all of her assistants do.”
And a whole lot of other people connected to the inner workings of Tampa city government.
And one by one, sleepy-eyed, and some a little grumpy, they arrive and buy their coffee and donut.
He calls them all by name, as he hands them the donuts he makes by hand in his “Donut Robot” at the back side of the truck. He serves bagels too, but they are mere window dressing, the donuts win the popularity contest hands down.
Frechette serves mostly gourmet coffees at his Hot Donut Company.
“And I started serving them long before Starbucks was even in town, ” he says.
His personal favorite is a fine Guatemalan Antigua, and it’s also his biggest seller.
“I get my beans from one of the best local roasters around, and have from the first day.”
Why “Donut Dude,” and not, well, “Donut Guy,” his visitor inquires.
And Frechette, who could pass for the comic, Steve Martin, grins and says, “It’s the movie, ‘The Big Lebowski,’ remember, he called everybody ‘Dude’, it’s my favorite movie, and the name just stuck.
And he bristles a little when told of the resemblance he bears to the famous comic, then chuckles, “Nah, he says, Steve Martin looks like ME”
When you’re in downtown Tampa, especially if it’s early in the morning and you have the time, stop by and say hi to the Donut Dude, and mingle with some of his sleepy-eyed customers. And be sure to have some of that Guatemalan Antigua.
It’s a great way to start the day.
Oh, and if you want those donuts by the Bakers Dozen, call ahead, 813-221-1313
The Hot Dunut Company 301 N. Franklin St. Tampa Monday-Friday 6AM – 10:30AM