TAMPA - Law enforcement has been working on Republican National Convention security for more than a year, but there are some places where they won’t be able to protect VIPs.
What happens when governors, congressman and other high profile leaders decide to venture outside the safe zone and explore Tampa Bay? The I-Team reached out to local high-end restaurants and found some are taking it upon themselves to help with security.
Gino Tiozzo, owner and operator of Donatello Italian Restaurant in Tampa says they’ve already made reservations for some high-profile customers.
“We are expecting a lot of VIPs, mainly congressmen,” Tiozzo said.
Some of those VIPs will bring their own security. But Tiozzo says his restaurant decided to take its own precautions.
“We do have some on-call private security officers that are willing to work with us through the week if necessary,” Tiozzo said.
Tiozzo says the added security will be brought in if any VIPs request it.
Donatello isn’t the only restaurant concerned about security. At Aqua at the Westin Tampa Bay, chef Matthew Mangone says employees are being told to be extra cautious during the convention.
“We’re just making sure we’re heavily staffed and making sure people are paying attention to detail,” Mangone said.
That means knowing who should and shouldn’t be in the kitchen and limiting access to loading areas and back door entrances.
If all this seems a little over the top, remember that Robert Kennedy was assassinated in a hotel restaurant kitchen during a Democratic primary in 1968.
For many local businesses, it’s about making sure their high profile clientele feels safe.
“We’re expecting that people will be providing their own security, but of course we are ready for any requests at any time, even last minute,” Tiozzo said.
None of the restaurants contacted by the I-Team would reveal which VIPs have booked reservations. They say keeping those names private is part of their security procedures as well.
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