Home is where the heart is: Anise and Because of Ezra join hands


After decades of living in Europe, I’m now experiencing Tampa as my first real American hometown. As large as the city is, I didn’t expect it to feel like a hometown, but the smallness of it—and I mean that in every positive sense of the word—has surprised me time and again.

Tampa is dynamic and young and exciting, but more than anything I’ve found Tampa to be compassionate, true and future-centered.The entrepreneurs I’ve met here, like Xuan and Kevin from Anise Global Gastrobar or Julie from Bake’n Babes, are compassionate people who play a compelling paelixirrt of a caring Tampa where people are determined to nurture their world and help their neighbors.

There are only two other places I’ve ever experienced this same level of enthusiasm, compassion and teamwork: on the field of athletic competition and in the hearts of people dedicated to serve others.

Both of those things—a solid sense of teamwork and vision and a passion for helping those beyond themselves—are part of the spirit I’ve found at Anise Global Gastrobar and part of what I am learning to love about Tampa.

The latest compassionate endeavor at Anise involves actively raising funds to donate to the inspirational Tampa-based organization called ‘Because of Ezra,’ a group whose mission is to raise funds and awareness for neuroblastoma cancer research. Neuroblastoma, a particularly heinous solid-mass pediatric cancer, took the life of Tampa resident Ezra Matthews just shy of his third birthday.

Ezra’s parents, foundeezrars of ‘Because of Ezra,’ have raised thousands of dollars in memory of their son and in hopes of finding answers, so that other families don’t have to experience the pain and loss they’ve endured. Surrounded by the caring people of Tampa, they have found a way to focus their grief in a compassionate and enduring manner.

Anise is no stranger to ‘Because of Ezra.’ The restaurant catered the Karaoke for the Kure event this summer and plans to continue their partnership. Known for its craft cocktails, Anise’s recent initiative centers on a seasonal elixir, a portion of the proceeds of which are directly donated to ‘Because of Ezra.’

Created by bar manager Ryan Brown, this season’s elixir features Reyka vodka, Allspice liquer, Sweet Potato beer and fresh lemon capturing all the lovely flavor of the season.

This particular elixir is the second in a year-round initiative Anise has adopted to raise money for ‘Because of Ezra.’ One dollar of each elixir sold
is donated to the project.

The “seasonal elixir,” aptly named by Anise, conjures images of magicians and alchemists, who once believed they could produce gold and prolong life. And in a sense that’s still true—although only a small gesture in a big world, it’s the believers: Ezra’s parents, the many Tampa natives who have risen to the call, Anise Global Gastrobar, who make the difference.

People taking care of people. After all that’s what hometowns are for…and it’s what I’ve found Tampa and Anise to be all about—all year long. It’s caring communities like this one that will work together to do the big things like cure cancer.