Workers hung caricatures of famous names in news, from Hollywood and politics Thursday morning at the CNN Grill.
The restaurant and bar serves as a studio of sorts for the cable news network, which filmed many shows from the restaurant’s floor each day in the shadow of the Republican National Convention at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.
And the bar in the background?
Tampa Bay Brewing Company is supplying the local libations to guests, who have to be CNN employees or on a list to get a seat in the restaurant.
The brewery is offering its Old Elephant Foot India Pale Ale and One Night Stand Pale Ale - shocking brewery co-owner Vicki Doble.
“I didn’t think the masses like an IPA but I was wrong,” she said Thursday.
Although the names might suggest otherwise, the beers were not crafted specifically for the event.
For weeks Doble sent samples of their brews to New York for officials with Union Square Events to taste. There was a lot of back-and-forth for weeks to get the selection just right.
Ultimately the restaurant went with two beers that have been a staple at the Ybor City brewery and restaurant for 17 years.
“It was quite an honor to do that,” Doble said. “Anytime you can get publicity is awesome."
However, she said the brewery offered the kegs for cost and was supposed to get some billing at the event but is not sure if drinkers even know what they are sipping.
Doble said she knew going in that the tap handles would be switched from an elephant foot and image of a fish being hooked to ones that say “CNN Brew.”
“We thought they would give us advertising for (the beer),” Doble said.
While the distinction of having the only draft beers at the CNN Grill is gratifying, Dobles said she is another business owner crestfallen from the expectation of larger crowds coming to town that ultimately never made it.
She said while she took on extra inventory and help, the RNC is not impacting the restaurant as expected.
Aside from some notables like The Daily Show’s Aasif Mondvi and Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey that have come in to dine, the Ybor City restaurant has been nearly vacant this week.
“It’s been absolutely awful, even our regulars are staying away,” Doble said. “It’s a shame because lots of people were hoping for a lot more... It’s just been really dead.”