The Hub… is not a joke. It’s not for the faint-hearted, the light-weights or the newbies. Actually, everyone is welcome, but you must be warned of what is famously known as “The Hub pour.” On their website, they proudly boast only serving top shelf liquor and they’re “nationally known for having some of the most generously freely poured drinks anywhere.” And they’re not kidding. I’ve heard stories of people, possibly tourists but definitely not regulars, asking for a double and getting kicked out. I don’t know how accurate these stories are but they are surely believable. Pours are already at least a double so ordering one up makes people question your thirst for life. It’s even more dangerous when you become friends with the bartender. “Hi, can I have a shot of Jameson, please. Also, I’d like to remember tonight, thanks”
I first learned about The Hub during my SkyPoint days. Back then, the smell of alcohol would get me drunk. I wouldn’t dare do more than step foot inside and peek around. Some things change and some things REALLY change. The Hub is where Anise’s staff go after work some nights. Usually, it’s the last stop on a trail of bar hops. The Hub is where you end up. Or where you start, depending on what level of debauchery you are trying to unlock that night. I remember a lot and yet simultaneously not so much about my trips to The Hub. One memory stands out above the rest. After one of my shifts at Anise, I went from 0-100 after a few shots of Jameson. Amidst the blur, an angel in blue floated past my friends and me- a Domino’s pizza delivery guy. As I watched him give a man his pizza, I thought to myself “That’s fucking genius. I want a god damn pizza.” Or a GD pizza, for those of you whose vision went blurry from the blasphemy. I asked him when they closed and my heart dropped.
-“We’re already closed… but I’m getting rid of these extra boxes.”
-“What do you have and how much are each of them?”
-“I got a box of wings, cheese sticks, and cinnamon sticks. Five dollars each.”
-“Is there ranch and blue cheese?”
-“Amazing. Here’s a twenty. I want all three.”
I went from the bar to an empty table, opened every single box and WENT. TO. TOWN.
Hair went up and my hands were in everything- dipping the cheesy bread in my ranch, in the marinara, eating chicken wings and licking the juice sliding down my arm. The last thing I remember from that night was dunking my hand in the broken soap dispenser in the bathroom and making sure I didn’t have anything in my teeth. Champ!
Anyway, back to The Hub! This dive bar has been around for 60 years! It opened in 1946 as The Hub Liquor and Package Store. It expanded into a piano cocktail lounge in 1949 and according to their website, most of their clientele consisted of “downtown Tampa’s who’s-who…. judges, attorneys, bankers, boxing champions and mob bosses.” Nowadays, it’s more likely to be hospitality folk, artists, downtown area workers, college students, tourists- anyone looking for a stiff drink. I’ve had fleeting friendships with people that visited The Hub after a convention or tradeshow, a birthday party in a nearby restaurant, or just visiting town. If you’re ever in Tampa and can appreciate a proper [over]pour, please visit the friendly people over at The Hub.
Funny side note. While looking up the history of The Hub before I started writing this post, I came across this article about Haley Joel Osment boasting his love for this dive bar while shooting the movie, Sex Ed. Naturally, I took a 90- minute break before writing this.
719 N. Franklin St
Tampa, FL, 33602
Mon- Sat 10:00AM- 3:00AM
Sun 1:00PM- 3:00AM
Photos Matthew Holler Photography