CONVERSATION: Vincent Jackson

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Vincent Jackson, center, works with military families through his Jackson in Action Foundation.l

VINCENT JACKSON

SPL recently caught up with former Buccaneer wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Now a respected Tampa Bay businessman and foundation director, Jackson is excited about his future and working in the St. Petersburg community.

 Since leaving the Bucs, you have been very involved with the community. Tell us about your Foundation Jackson in Action and the work it does?

­­­­When I arrived in Tampa in 2012 I was pleased to learn how philanthropic this community is. Community service has always been a major piece of my life and upbringing. My military family background propelled me to create the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation.

Tampa is home to one of the most integral military installations in the country, MacDill AFB. Having that in our backyard is such a treasure, and I wanted to be engaged with supporting the service men, women, and families stationed here.  The Foundation is focused on a comprehensive approach to providing support for military families focusing on the emotional, educational, and physical health of the children.

 We interact with active duty military personnel, spouses, teachers at schools that house military children, and veterans. We have created programming ranging from Employment Symposiums to our Salute to Reading campaign, Military Mom’s Baby Shower, scholarship program for military dependents, and a series of children’s books authored by my wife Lindsey and myself. A large portion of our resources are targeted at the children since I was a military kid myself. My father served over 20 years in the Army. I am proud of what we have accomplished so far and I’m excited to continue this service for many years to come.

 

Jackson and partners Ramon Hernandez and Mario Farias are reviving the Historic Manhattan Casino with two new restaurants.

What inspired you to become part of the restoration of the Manhattan Casino in Midtown St. Pete?

 When I met my partners, Ramon Hernandez and Mario Farias, and I was presented with this unique opportunity, I was drawn to the idea of not only creating a viable and sustainable business, but we have a tremendous platform to impact the community in St. Petersburg. We reside at a location on 22nd St. South that is the corridor between an expanding and flourishing Central Avenue and the south side of the city that has seen less business growth. Through our new restaurant Callaloo, The Historic Manhattan Casino, and Pipo’s Cafe, we will have the ability to create jobs, develop entrepreneurs, improve economic conditions, and serve non-profits and other community organizations. Possessing the ability to affect each of those areas is very exciting to me. Plus, I love food, art, and music. It was really a no-brainer to team up with the City of St. Petersburg and, along with my partners, help bring life to the vision that so many have desired for so long.

 What part will you play in the new restaurant and event space?

 As vice president of the parent company, The Callaloo Group, I wear many hats. I am involved in the design and build-out, menu creation, marketing, developing our standard operating procedures, and helping us continue to expand our reach in the local community and beyond.

Mayor Kriseman personally selected your team and concept for the Floribbean style restaurant. How closely will you be working with him and the city?Are you aiming to keep the historic flavor of the building?

We are thankful to have such an intimate relationship with Mayor Kriseman, St. Petersburg City Council, and many other civic leaders. Through the city’s process of making their selection, we were able to connect with and hear from so many people in the community. This input and feedback were critical as we structured our business plan and integrated the city leaders’ visions.

 The City of St. Petersburg is our landlord, and we welcome their ongoing presence, ideas, and support in all of our activities. The design, decor, menu, and entertainment choices are all made by our team. In a snapshot, we wanted to create a modern and vibrant facade while still paying homage to the historical value of this establishment that was built in the 1920s.

 The Historic Manhattan Casino and Callaloo will house a balance of historical art pieces and a rotating selection of art from local talent. Both venues will also play host to musical acts from all genres, highlighting many up and coming talented artists. It is important for us to acknowledge the significant role African American cultural heritage played in the creation of this facility through our food, music, and art. 

 What are your favorite things about St. Pete?  Favorite restaurants, bars, things to do?

There are so many things to love about St. Petersburg. I personally love its diversity and how much of a hub it is for food, art, and entertainment. Downtown St. Pete and the Edge District are so walkable and offer a plethora of options for the wandering soul. I also am drawn to the Warehouse and Waterfront Art Districts. The Second Saturday Art Walk is such a great concept, and we look forward to becoming a part of that St. Petersburg experience.

Coming next issue: Watch for our review of the new Callaloo Restaurant.