Tampa makes throwback Thursday a reality

by Jack Young

Looking to attract younger crowds and bring them into the Downtown Tampa area, Gen X Tavern appeals to the nostalgia of the ’80s and ’90s. Gen X Tavern opened  their doors in late April for a sneak at what’s to come. Just months later, the downtown bar is still generating buzz due to a lengthy menu and unique atmosphere.

Officially opening just prior to Cinco De Mayo, Gen X was making noise both online and in the campus community. Several articles noted the restaurant well before their opening and many University of Tampa students were excited to travel back in time, figuratively. 

Gen X has many relics from the later decades of the last century including timeless athletic merch, VHS tapes, bobbleheads, floppy disks, personalized lockers and numerous art pieces referring to retro pop culture icons.

The old-school spot serves everything from burgers to tacos, salads to steaks, and the childhood classics: SpaghettiOs and Dunkaroos. But, it wouldn’t be a Downtown Tampa bar without having an impressive cocktail list. Some beverages are named after classic movies or timeless songs and a couple include candies in them, offering a wide variety of drinks.

“Our number one best selling drink is the adult Capri Sun,” said Mallory Schreiber, Manager of Gen X. “Our liquor sales are much higher than our food sales.

Schreiber said that while the restaurant caters to “anyone and everyone,” the majority of their customers tend to be young professionals, usually 21 and older.

“I like the overall vibe of the place, there’s lots of different stuff to do,” said Alex DiStefano, senior psychology major. “All the old sports memorabilia is pretty cool.”

Every day from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Gen X has many happy hour specials which include discounted drinks, a few cheap appetizers and seven dollar cheeseburger and fries. All day, every day Gen X has a ‘dad’s fridge’ two dollar special, where the bartender will pick a beer at random, without telling the customer and serve it to them in a brown paper bag. The Tuesday specials include deals on drinks along with three dollar tacos.

There’s plenty of room to eat, drink, play, or mingle as Gen X has full bar seating, small tables for individual parties, food-court style seating and even couches in the back to lounge on while watching a classic film. With many movies to watch on Hulu and Netflix, customers can request specific programs.

“It’s a really colorful place and I like the retro theme,” said Justin Hedlund, UT alumnus. “But the tacos were soggy and kind of saucy, they dripped onto my plate.”

Schreiber said that their menu has had minor changes in their opening months based on customer feedback and what is and isn’t selling.

“The bill was cheap,” said Hedlund.

In addition to dining, customers can also play board games, shoot arcade hoops, use the pinball or skee ball machines, play Pac Man on an authentic system, or even a legitimate Super Nintendo all provided at the restaurant.

“Downtown Tampa has been in need of a new outlet: something new to spend time at and connect to,” said Chris Falls, general manager of Gen X Tavern. “Those that are generation X, our restaurant brings back a feeling of warmth and nostalgia. And even if you’re not generation X, a lot of this stuff is really relevant to our pop culture today.”

Located on 103 East Jackson Street in Downtown Tampa, Gen X Tavern found themselves prime real estate being just one block from the Kennedy Bridge and right next door to the European Wax Center. They open every day at 11 a.m. and close at midnight Monday through Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, Gen X is open until 1 a.m. and closes early on Sundays at 11 p.m.

When asked about possible expansion, Schreiber said: “I don’t see why we wouldn’t, we’ve been doing really well these first few months.”

“Our goal is always to grow. We’re very happy to be apart of Downtown Tampa,” said Falls.

Jack Young can be reached at jack.young@spartans.ut.edu

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