Hallandale Beach Blog - A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida and Europe, especially the UK and Sweden.
In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura. Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Photo in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A, September 2008; March 2018 photo below of North Beach, looking left-to-right, looking north, HYDE Condominium, Etaru Japanese Robatayaki restaurant, and Hollywood Beach in the distance, with umbrellas. All photos by me, © Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Monday, October 31, 2016

How & why #Italy's @tastagelato's first location in the U.S. is a huge coup for #HollywoodFL & #SoFL consumers, #Foodies & families -and a powerful magnet in creating a more dynamic, innovative Downtown Hollywood; Tasta Gelato Naturale

How & why #Italy's @tastagelato's first location in the U.S. is a huge coup for #HollywoodFL & #SoFL consumers, #Foodies & families -and a powerful magnet in creating a more dynamic, innovative Downtown Hollywood; Tasta Gelato Naturale

Tasta Gelato & Cafeteria, 2033 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, FL 33020

All original photos on this page by #HallandaleBeachBlog, a.k.a. #SouthBeachHoosier, October 2016.

Above, the five longtime friends from Italy who have become business partners and put their chips firmly on Downtown Hollywood's future, and the potential to spotlight the best-tasting gelato in the world: Tasta Gelato Naturale - all natural, with no preservatives.

Above, in center, Giuseppe "Peppe" Flamingo, the 33-year old Master Gelato Maker, or Granita, for Tasta Gelato Naturale. He is the third-generation member of an Italian family that has been intimately involved with the Italian Gelato industry for over 55 years, starting in 1960 when they began producing their high-quality ice cream cones for Italy's most-popular gelato makers.
Yes, it all started with ice cream cones...

After opening six very successful Tasta Gelato boutiques throughout Italy and Sicily since 2010, with their first in the Flamingo family hometown of Modica in Sicily, following a decision by the family to diversify its role within the gelato industry, Peppe and four of his longtime friends -one from Rome and three fellow Sicilians- all friendly, business-savvy and very well-educated, became business partners. Together, the five of them set their eyes on opening Tasta Gelato's first location in the United States. 
But where?

Well, NOT New York, Boston, Chicago or any of several large American cities with a large Italian-American heritage, populace or large consumer market, though those all would have been pretty logical guesses, and what you might've expected to hear from the business press.
No, instead, these five longtime friends put their heads together and decided that their dream would be made here in the sunshine of South Florida and the Miami area. 
But where exactly?

Together, they thought long and hard about their personal and business priorities and goals and what sort of location and atmosphere would best serve BOTH their business plan and their future customers. 
What they did next is something that could be viewed as quite unconventional by recent South Florida business standards - consciously choosing to eschew the Usual Suspects, placing their chips and emotional and financial futures on Downtown Hollywood, and Hollywood Boulevard in particular.

Consider the economic ramifications and morale boost to Hollywood of Tasta's decision to locate its first U.S. location there, when so many entrepreneurs and businesses looking to locate in South Florida have adopted a default reaction of saying, essentially: "Well, let's just put a location in South Beach or Wynwood. They have lots of tourists..."

That attitude has been the default position of so many out-of-town businesses that don't do 
their homework -unlike what these five friends and partners have done- and yet that attitude of businesses doing what's easiest also explains why so many innovative retail concepts in South Beach, Wynwood, Palmetto Bay and Boca Raton don't work out, because they didn't know their consumer universe as well as they think they do.

That's something that I have seen many times previously, first-hand, in other places I have lived: Bloomington, Indiana when I was at school at Indiana University, in Chicago and Evanston in Illinois, and in Washington, D.C. and next door Arlington County, VA, some of the hippest, wealthiest, well-educated and upscale locales in all of America.

But these five friends and business partners from Italy I've come to know of late have actually done their homework!

They've chosen to put their money, hard work and years of savvy consumer and technical expertise behind their very talented friend, Peppe, whose goal is a simple one: To make the best-tasting gelato in the world -with raw materials that are natural.

Whether you speak Italian or not, highly suggest you watch this episode of #NaturalmenteSicilia, wherein Peppe Flamingo opens the door to the #TastaLab, and explains both the ideals and history of Tasta Gelato and what some of the secrets are behind their popular ice cream.

But understanding Italian definitely helps with this laudatory magazine article, though you can always use Google Translate - though the great photos need no translation!

Mangereste un gelato che si chiama Signor Calacauso? 
(You would eat an ice cream called Mr. Calacauso?)

As of today, Tasta Gelato offers roughly 9 Vegan-friendly Gelato flavors, plus 24 others for a total of 33. It also offers a Breakfast menu, including many kinds of coffee, Muffins, Danish, Cinnamon buns, and five different kind of delicious sandwiches, Cheese Pockets, Tiramisu and Cheesecake.

I will admit that I have been happy to be a small part of their experiment to devise the best-tasting cheesecake imaginable. You know me, I'm all for #innovation!

In my case, above, the delicious cheesecake "experiment" actually required two different small samples to help me decide which was best. 
And they were both amazing.
Clearly, I will have to taste more! :-)

Tasta Gelato uses only products from local farmers using free-range cows that are NOT exploited or housed in unsanitary conditions, and uses biodegradable and compostable gelato cups, spoons and sticks.
"Why is our gelato natural?Our products are made using organic milk, unrefined cane sugar, and organic carob powder. We never use food preservatives, colorings or additives."
Trust me, you can taste the difference -and the quality- from the very first bite.

Days before the Grand Opening on October 23rd, after telling co-partner George my particular favorite ice cream tastes, his intuition told him to offer me a sample of something that nailed my taste preference in one fell swoop: Sette e mezzo with hazelnut, crunchy and gianduja, below.

Peppe's proud first Instagram post after last Sunday's Grand Opening in Hollywood was to the point, and recognized the hard work of all five friends over the past 18 months to make that day more than a dream, but a reality:

"The first dollar.
Here we are 18 months in hopes, work, joy often followed or preceded by discouragement, huge sacrifice, patience and hard work.
Nobody told us how it goes, but we believed it and we wanted to.
And we are here today.
We are at 2033 Hollywood Boulevard.
10km from Miami Beach.
A 8000km from Modica.
One step from the dream.

We hope we do not wake up early now ❤️"

Or, as Nobel Prize-winning author Paolo Coelho once put it: 
"It's the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting."

A photo posted by Peppe Flamingo (@peppeflamingo) on

In the end, the five partners decided they wanted to locate their business, the first Tasta boutique in the U.S., in an area of South Florida where local neighborhoods and a neighborhood sensibility still matter to the people who live and work there.

A place where the concept of a viable central downtown shopping area that offers something for everyone still largely exists, though not without its ups-and-downs.
And finally, they decided they wanted to locate their business in a neighborhood where people were sociable and constantly out-and-about, so they would NOT be so highly dependent and hostage to visiting tourists to make or break their business.

They wanted some degree of "stability," and the ability to develop long-term neighborhood "regulars" who come by by themselves, with their family or friends.
People who would not only patronizethe business themselves, but love to be able to bring visiting family and friends around during the upcoming holidays and say to them, essentially, "This is what we have here in Hollywood. What do you have in your town that can even compare to the briliance of this?"

No, you on't have to be Nostradamus to know that this place will be very popular during the holidays, as locals show-off their new Downtown jewel.
And the idea that there was free parking available in the Downtown Hollywood area during the day for three hours -and even longer after 8 PM- only helped make the partners decision easier.

Instead of doing the easy thing, they've taken a chance on Downtown Hollywood and its efforts to become something considerably more sophisticated, ambitious and, dare I say, worldly, than what it is now.
Now, the discerning people of Hollywood, Hallandale Beach, Aventura, Golden Beach and Pembroke Pines who have always claimed that they wanted something unique or even iconic in their part of South Florida have a choice -the opportunity to actually put their own words and beliefs into action.

They have the freedom to actually shop at and financially support unique and innovative businesses of the sort that they have forever been claiming at government meetings and in emails to me that they wanted to have nearby -but which almost always overlooked them/us- and that includes new and exciting entrepreneur-led businesses like Tasta, whose five partners have made a very conscious choice to locate in Downtown Hollywood, when the reality is that they could have gone elsewhere in South Florida.
Or anywhere else in the United States.
And been welcomed with open arms!

Given the very close walking distance between Tasta Gelato and so many things that draw large crowds in Hollywood's Downtown area, esp. the Young Circle/ArtsPark two blocks away, whether Monday night's very popular weekly Food Trucks event that's long drawn fans from neighboring cities, or the very popular Friday Night Funtastic Friday's for Kids events, and the ArtsPark Movie Nights afterwards, Tasta could hardly be more of a bulls-eye and magnet for the particular kind of consumer-friendly businesses that city officials, the Hollywood CRA and the Downtown business community has actively been courting and desperately praying for: One that lures families and singles who are actively interested in something out-of-the-ordinary because of the consistent quality and customer service they receive.

In the case of Tasta, that comes via an out-of-the ordinary deliciousness in the form of gelato and other natural treats that people will quickly become addicted to! 
As I can say from experience! :-)

A final word from me, someone who has come to know these five young entrepreneurs a tiny bit, and have heard them talk out loud about their ideas for the future.
Like, for instance, their plans to greatly expanding their menu offerings in the future, because unlike so many extant businesses in this area, they don't want to place limits on what they can offer, just because others have not chosen to do so, or been successful at it. 

(More details on those forthcoming menu additions will be on the blog soon: with photos of delicious things to come!)

These five people are clearly among the sharpest and most-creative minds I've met since leaving the Washington D.C. area in late 2003 and returned to South Florida. Really.

Whatever you do, don't wait to be the last person in your circle of friends to come by Tasta, and see for yourself what a difference great natural products, high quality control and friendly customer service can make when you offer the public delicious natural food products that literally make you stand in awe.
Don't wait for the positive word-of-mouth from your Foodie friends or your cook-up-a-storm neighbors, or the soon-to-come glowing newspaper and TV reviews.
The ones that will, inevitably, cause even more people to claim to have "discovered" it first.

No, what you faithful blog readers in South Florida need to do now is show some initiative and enthusiasm and simply do what so many of you have told me for years that you'd do if ever given half-a-chance: patronize new, different and exciting things in our area that have the means of changing the very dynamic of the area we live in.
Especially when it comes in the form of an innovative, socially-conscious company offering the public such consistently delicious taste in so many forms.
And friendly customer service! 

Be the #EarlyAdopter that you've forever been telling me that you really were.
If you do, I suspect you will become a Tasta true-believer, too.
Tasting is believing!

A presto! (See you soon!)


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Hallandale Beach's latest scandal grows by the day. Fact update, with new info re #HallandaleBeach's corrupt and unethical govt./political sensibility. Long past time for Alex Lewy to answer some hard questions from public & press about what he knows or has any involvement in the electronic surveillance scandal

Hallandale Beach's latest scandal grows by the day. Fact update, with new info re #HallandaleBeach's corrupt and unethical govt./political sensibility. 
Long past time for Alex Lewy to answer some hard questions from public & press about what he knows or has any involvement in the electronic surveillance scandal

This is an important update to my last post, of October 21, 2016, Unethical and corrupt political & govt. culture of Hallandale Beach City Hall being exposed for what it is tonight on Local10 News, via Bob Norman; So what have Alex Lewy and Joy Cooper been commiserating about recently? Their mutual Keith London & Michele Lazarow obsession!

Necessarily, I'll be incorporating much of what I wrote then into this piece so I'm going to try to join them together so that you have a much better understanding of what's been going on in Hallandale Beach for many, many years with the current incompetent Joy Cooper Rubber Stamp Crew holding the reins of power, while the vast majority of South Florida's press corps looked on, drolly, saying and reporting precious-little-to-nothing.

So, I have received quite a lot of responses from my email and blog post of late Friday afternoon, most of it, though not all, positive.

State criminally investigating Hallandale Beach political spying case
Politicians say they discovered illegal tracking devices attached to their cars

By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter
Posted: 7:00 PM, October 21, 2016
Updated: 7:18 PM, October 21, 2016

Plot thickens in hallandale beach political spying case
By Bob Norman - Investigative Reporter
Posted: 5:59 PM, October 24, 2016

First, what I heard from you, and then what I realized I neglected to mention yesterday 
in the email that might've better helped your understanding of the facts. 
To wit, some useful context and nuance.
I was pressed for time as it neared six o'clock but in retrospect, I wish I'd have waited 
that extra minute or two to get it in...

I've edited some of this to make it clearer, since some of you might not be as familiar 
with the pertinent facts as others.

"David, How come you did not mention that as a HB Commissioner, Alex Lewy 
voted for the 2000 S. Ocean Drive project that allowed a 36-story building be built,
practically in the ocean, and much closer to the actual shoreline than other HB 
buildings, thus ignoring not only global warming concerns, but also approving
the variance without the developer meeting the City of Hallandale Beach's OWN 
criteria for going past the Florida Coastal Construction Line, CCL?
The direct result of this move was tBLOCK the views of roughly 250 condominium 
owners to the ocean, even though 95% of the HB residents who actually took the 
time to attend and speak at the HB City Commission meetings on the project clearly
and publicly OPPOSED it?"

Some of you will recall that this was the very same development project that involved 
former HB City Commissioner and state Rep. Joe Gibbons, that I wrote about several 
times via emails, tweets and blog posts, raising questions whether he had, in fact, 
followed the city's rules requiring him to register as a lobbyist on the matter, and the 
potential he had to make up to $200,000 if he succeeded.


As to the link of Alexander Lewy that I included yesterday that was the original tweet 
that Mayor Joy Cooper was responding to on September 20th when she wrote
can't think without him !! Pitiful

Lewy's twitter feed has been changed to private very recently. I wonder why. 
He was always so keen to tell everyone just what he thought.


Now when some of you went to Lewy's initial tweet, it showed nothing but the news that his Twitter handle was now PRIVATE, after being public for many years. 
Nothing was ever too personal for him to not share and reveal it.
So what happened?

When Alex Lewy first posted this specific tweet and I first saw it -and Mayor Cooper 
as well- what he had uploaded to his Twitter feed were strange-looking photos of Hallandale Beach City Commissioners Keith London and Michele Lazarow outside of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel building, where they were being interviewed that day as part of the newspaper's candidate vetting process, such as it is.

(Notwithstanding their recent endorsements in Hallandale Beach, 
@SunSentinel To change decorum and direction, choose Anabelle Taub 
and Michele Lazarow in Hallandale Beach http://sunsent.nl/2ePhNdh 
for many years I have been very critical of the Sun-Sentinel's coverage of Hallandale 
Beach and the Editorial Board consistently ignoring controversial issues in HB for many, many years that if they happened almost anywhere else in Broward County, would have likely been the subject of a series of blistering editorials, most especially re the HB CRA scandal and the millions of CRA dollars that went... 

One of the many reasons for that opinion of mine was that it's clear from people who were physically present in the room during past interviews that that the people on the Editorial Board asking questions, themselves, frequently did NOT know basic 
facts that most HB voters and residents already knew and were considering, or even quite angry about.
Not that the paper wrote about that particular anger or why it existed.

Like, for instance, how many people were running for the seats or why HB voters were recently NOT allowed to vote for a candidate for each open seat, and instead, could only vote for two people, with the candidate coming in third being elected as well. 
Who voted to make it that way for voters? 
Cooper, Lewy & Sanders.

Another reason for that opinion is the case of one person involved in the endorsement process showing overt favoritism for Comm. Sanders in ways that seemed particularly egregious, and the Editorial Board not directly challenging Sanders on any of the MANY controversial and unethical things he has done since being appointed to the Commission in an anti-democratic fashion in August of 2008, rather than the Mayor simply following the city's written rules for filling a Commission vacancy. 
Instead, Cooper demanded a vote many weeks BEFORE it was necessary -or there even, legally, WAS a vacancy- and never allowed the public to speak that night.

The Editorial Board has never asked Comm. Sanders how he could justify voting for every single development project that has come before him at City Hall. 
Not 85% or 90% as might be common in most cities over such a period of time, but 100%. 
Really, 100%? Yes. :-( )

To be honest, my initial thought upon seeing the photos of London and Lazarow were that they looked exactly like photos that a private investigator might take if he was tailing someone for a client.
Which, quite naturally, makes me -and perhaps you as well- wonder who took the photos that Lewy posted publicly in an obvious attempt to infer something sinister, when it also could be seen by most people, much less, people who live in HB and who know them, to be seen as two friends who happen to be candidates, talking outside of a place where they were there to talk about their candidacies with other people who could actually play a role in THEIR futures.
Frankly, it would be weird for them to not be talking, given that they are friends. 

That Lewy was foolish enough to post it should not be surprising to anyone who kept their eyes focused on him and noticed the sorts of curious things that always seemed to be going on around him, including his often-messy personal melodrama that some of you have been privvy to.

There's a sound and compelling reason why I first started calling Alexander Lewy "Lewy the Liarmany years ago on my blog after I saw and experienced first-hand his phony, self-serving nature. In fact, I coined that nickname six years ago this past weekend:

Lewy has clearly thought for quite some time that he could (and perhaps even had) fooled nearly everyone hereabouts, including the press corps, and made his over-weaning personal ambition and personal nastiness fairly well disguised as public service to fool most people, but it hasn't worked for most of the city's well-informed citizenry, including many of you.
Most of you know exactly who and what kind of person Alex Lewy is.

Whether this city's well-informed citizenry actually constitutes a majority of HB voters is the question that will be decided on Election Day.

#HollywoodFL based photographer/entrepreneur Esther Chuang

#HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy
Thumbs up! What a night! #HOLLYWOODFL based photographer and entrepreneur Esther Chuang with a very elated Hollywood Mayor-elect Josh Levy at his Victory Party, held at Leo Anato's Atelier3/AT3 on Harrison Street & S. 19th Avenue, Hollywood. AT3's great environment and the amazing variety of food prepared by chef Kevin Dreifuss, former owner/chef of now-closed ENDS MEAT restaurant, was SUPERB! November 8, 2016 Esther Chuang, Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2015
Above, perhaps my most-favorite photo ever of Esther, which is really saying something considering the THOUSANDS that I've actually seen of her, from all over the world. But despite the fact that you can't actually see it here, trust me, her amazing smile and inner and external beauty are there. This photo is an even more amazing achievement when you know the backstory of what it took for Esther to get to the top of the mountain, since it's NOT for the faint of heart. Next time you see her, ask her about that! Morro Dois Irmãos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on her birthday, July 10, 2015. That's the Christ The Redeemer statue atop Mount Corcovado way out in the horizon on the top of another mountain, to the left of her head. To the right is the world famous beach of Ipanema and to the left is the equally famous beach of Copacabana. In case you forgot what the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio looks like, up close, plus the Amazon area of Brazil that Esther grew up near in Manaus, here's another Brazilian beauty to connect-the-dots for you: Gisele Bündchen, aka @Gisele.

Abençoado por Deus e bonito por natureza!✨ ������

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

A floresta Amazônica tem um papel fundamental no equilíbrio do clima na Terra e, portanto, na vida de cada um de nós. Nos últimos anos a proteção diminuiu e o desmatamento aumentou drasticamente. E o que já era ruim, pode ficar ainda pior. Se as medidas que o governo vem tomando não forem vetadas, nosso futuro estará ameaçado. Diga NÃO à diminuição da proteção da Floresta do Jamanxim! Diga NÃO à exploração de minério no coração da floresta! #TodosPelaAmazônia #342Amazonia #TodosPelaAmazonia Assine a petição: link na bio. ������✨���� The Amazon Rainforest plays a key role in balancing the climate on the Earth and therefore in each of our lives. In recent years, protection has decreased and deforestation has increased sharply. And what was already bad can get even worse. If the measures that the government has been taking are not vetoed, our future will be threatened. Say NO to the reduction of the Jamanxim Forest´s protection! Say NO to ore mining in the heart of the Forest! #togetherfortheAmazon

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on