Fans won’t flock to Tampa for Super Bowl LV for another two months, but, the activities have already begun. "Road To Gameday" Restaurant Week starts Friday, Dec. 4 and runs through Dec. 13.
"We add that flair and we add that elegance to the dish," Ava Evans said.
Evans says you can drive from bay to bay but you won’t find this kind of food anywhere else. She plates like a pro…but she’s a newcomer to the business.
"I never had any experience, I’ve never worked in a restaurant," Evans said.
Creating her restaurant, Ava’s Lowcountry Cuisine, wasn’t in the plans and neither was COVID.
"I just had to figure out what to do," she said.
By switching gears to incorporate a dining room, the restaurant positioned itself for an amazing opportunity. Evans said her industry friends told her about applying for Super Bowl LV’s Business Connect program.
"They called me and they were like, ‘Hey, you need to get in contact with Ms. Lakendria, you need to find out how you can be a part of this, it’s going to help your business,’" Evans said.
But, the hype was short-lived.
"In March right after we accepted businesses we had to completely change the program," Business Connect Director Lakendria Robinson said.
As Super Bowl leaders prepared for a site visit in September, they asked Robinson for a list of diverse restaurants to support. That sparked an idea.
"My team and I, we were literally sitting around after that, and we were like, 'why don’t we just make this a thing? Make it a full-on 10-day event,'" Robinson said.
That's how Road to Gameday was born. You can check out pre-fixed menus at nearly 40 restaurants. To qualify, the restaurants had to be 51% women, minority, veteran, or LGBTQ+ owned.
"This will be an opportunity to put us on the map," Evans said. "Just being a part of the Super Bowl and being in that circle is going to help our business a whole lot."
There's another incentive for supporting these businesses. When you buy a meal from Road To Gameday restaurants, a portion of your purchase goes to Feeding Tampa Bay.