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October 13, 2011

Liquid Living Magazine


Polished Palate Biography

Eric Schiller, Co-Owner, Gaspar’s Grotto

Eric Schiller

Captain Eric Schiller , originally from Boston and a 25 year resident of sunny Tampa , is Co-Owner and proprietor of Gaspar's Grotto. He is affectionately known by the crew at Gaspar's as Captain Ehab. He is a retired Sea Captain who commanded supertankers on global trade routes for more than 20 years. A graduate of the United States Merchant Marine Academy , Captain Schiller had always thought he would open a world class bar after retirement from sea, having been on the front side of many such establishments during his travels. Gaspar's Grotto is the culmination of a lifelong dream. However, he has been heard to remark that he needs to go back to sea to get a rest!

Shere Schiller, co- owner of Gaspar's Grotto, hails from Pittsburgh , PA. She recieved her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics Education at Mansfield State College and her Masters in Education at Penn State University , which explains her afinity for a place called Happy Valley . Shere, also known as the head bar wench, has been an educator, interior designer, early interventionist, sales representative, entrepreneur, businesswomen and philanthropist.

The Schiller's, who are proud parents of three children, are extremely active in the community and participate in many foundations and charitable causes, which explains Gaspar's Grotto's rising stature as a venue for fundraising and charitable events. For many years, the Schiller's also sponsored a college scholarship for deserving local youth.

Our Founding Principles:

Captain Ehab, in his many travels abroad took copious notes on what makes a great bar, such as: Raffles in Singapore , Pat O'Briens in New Orleans , Hemmingways in Paris , The Golden Key in Santos , Brasil, The Buena Vista in San Francisco , John Bull's in Pireaus and many others.

He found that all great bars have a few simple elements in common.
1. A central location
2. A highly diverse mix of patrons.
3. Bartenders and staff that absolutely love their work and are fully committed to service of the patrons.
4. Eclectic entertainment, including the strange, the bizarre, the odd and the unexplainable
5. Persnickety management setting and maintaining high standards.
6. Laughter--and lots of it.

Read more about Eric Schiller here
So...Gaspar's Grotto was born in Ybor City , Tampa , Florida , the former center of the Cigar world. Surrounded by history and steeped in a multicultural background, Ybor City was the perfect location. The building Gaspar's is located in was built earlier this century and has been used as a furniture store, art gallery, carpet warehouse, hardware store, pawn shop and now a world class bar. The extensive outdoor patio--which includes a stage, outdoor bar and numerous fountains--was the former site of a poultry slaughterhouse which provided fresh poultry to cigar workers many years ago.

Gaspar's Grotto, named after the notorious Pirate Jose Gaspar, who plundered this part of Florida is committed to being a fun, safe and delightful place for those over 21. The bar is classified as a stand alone bar and smoking is allowed inside. Cigar smokers are encouraged to enjoy the patio when the bar is crowded. No one under 21 is permitted inside and those under 21 run the risk of a keel hauling by the master at arms. Entertainment is eclectic featuring magicians, stilt walkers, statue men, contortionsts, mimes and others. Adults simply love Gaspar's warmth and fun.

The next time you find yourself on 7th Avenue and the sun is over the yard arm stop in at Gaspar's Grotto at 1805 east 7th. We recommend a portion of Gaspar's Grog for all hands. Whatever you do, do not miss the opportunity to meet Tanker Ray, Bar Cat Extraordinaire. He will make your day!