Popular Tampa sandwich shop still serving one year after Hurricane Irma destruction

Posted at 10:34 PM, Sep 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-10 23:26:05-04

TAMPA, Fla. — One year after Hurricane Irma, a former Tampa hot spot is serving its loyal customers in a unique way. 

AJ's Press, known for their pressed sandwiches, once garnered a top-five national ranking on Yelp. 

“It was so busy, we were turning phones off at times," said co-owner Jill Lynn. 

But at the height of that swift success, Irma struck, destroying the family-owned cafe's dining room. 

“Well, financially, it was devastating, you know," said Lynn. "This was the first time we’ve done this on our own, put a business together.”

Related: Popular Tampa Bay cafe raising money to help staff post-Irma

ABC Action News profiled the damage last year. The Lynn's even set up a fundraising campaign to help keep their employees paid. 

A temporary closure soon phased into having to let go for good. 

Lynn's husband, who created the menu from scratch, now works for a corporate restaurant. 

“I think today he still grieves the loss of this baby that, that was and he knows what it could have been, was on it’s way to being.”

ABC Action News has learned, the popular pressed sandwiches live on. AJ's Press now caters for businesses and large events out of a shared kitchen space on West Tampa Bay Boulevard. 

While it's not the same as having their own restaurant, Lynn is thankful the cooking continues. 

"There’s still so much love in that food," said Lynn. "It's still alive and well. Everything is made fresh every single day.”