TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A new bakery and speakeasy in Ybor City is keeping Tampa Bay’s Black history alive by honoring a woman who was essential in making downtown Tampa what it is today.
Roast is the newest bakery and deli to hit 7th Avenue in Ybor City.
“We have fresh breads we make everyday, unique sandwiches and we have our cookie station where everything is made homemade,” said Khalilah McDuffie.
McDuffie is a restauranteur, chef and co-owner of the new spot. While curating the design, menu and concept, she said they did it for the community and for the culture.
“We’re doing it not only for ourselves, but for our community,” McDuffie said. “Our sandwiches tell a story too and are named after historic Black neighborhoods across Tampa Bay.
That’s not where the history ends. Once patrons push through a bookshelf door, they enter the Madame Fortune Dessert Parlour.
“I wanted this space to be centered around Tampa’s Black history,” said Dr. Jamaris Glenn.
Glenn is a restauranteur and co-owner of Roast/Madame Fortune. Together the business partners deliver upscale meals sprinkled with Black history lessons on top.
“When I first heard her story, I was just compelled because you always hear those stories about Tulsa, Oklahoma and Black Wall Street, but not realizing that Tampa was it’s own Black Wall Street and had it’s own thriving neighbors,” Glenn said. “Not only that, a Black woman essentially founded the city of Tampa.”
Her name was Madame Fortune Taylor. She was once enslaved, but moved from South Carolina to Tampa with her husband, Ben Taylor after the Civil War. Taylor was a citrus farmer who grew guavas, oranges and peaches on 33 acres of land.
After her husband died, she received a grant and bought the land. The land is what the area knows as downtown Tampa and East Tampa.
“We cultivated a lot of the spaces here now, we owned a lot of the land, we helped build this city, we helped build America honestly,” Glenn said. “We are woven into the fabric of this country.”
Madame Fortune Taylor’s land spans from the Hillsborough River to the Oaklawn Cemetery. When vising the Straz Center, the Barrymore Hotel and driving all along Fortune Street, that was her land. It was stripped from her for just $252 when former Mayor Henry Clarke needed the land to create a city, now known as Tampa.
“People need to know where you come from to know where you’re going,” Glenn said. “Especially in the Black community it’s important to know that we have a place here in the city of Tampa.”
Many may not know the name, or know a Black woman’s land is what they drive, bike or play on. However, with Fortune Street, the Fortune Taylor Bridge, historical markers and now the dessert parlor, her legacy lives on.
“I wanted to say her name and let her spirit live on,” Glenn said.
Glenn and McDuffie incorporated Taylor’s history into the design on the restaurant/parlor as well. From their drinks to the fruit across the design is to pay homage to the former citrus farmer.
To book a reservation or visit Roast/Madame Fortune, click here.