Airport Variety Store, gone

Sadly, the little cuban place that my Dad turned me on to many years ago is now a vacant lot.

Airport Variety Store (I didn’t know the name until I looked it up today) was located across from the St. Pete/Clearwater Airport. It was known for its cuban sandwiches, but my father and I would go in for the crab roll. For those not familiar with the crab roll, it is a deviled crab sort of thing they used to keep in a little food warmer on the counter. If hot sauce that was your thing, they would jam a squeeze bottle of vinegary pepper sauce in each end and give it a generous squirt. The resulting mess was wrapped in wax paper and thrown in a paper bag. It was delicious.

Update 2017-03-06: I found a blurry picture of one of these crab rolls from back in 2009. The picture doesn’t really do it any justice, but I thought a bad picture was better than no picture at all.

Crab Roll

This inaugural dinner set the bar quite high for future hosts. For this delicious taste of Catalonia, Dario pulled out all the stops. He even purchased some Spanish style wine glasses. It was like Barcelona… in Brooklyn.

Chorizo, manchego & valdeon cheeses, and olives
Yzaguirre Blanco Reserva Vermouth Spritzer

Warm Spanish Style Giant Bean Salad and Fire Roasted Peppers with Boquerones
Avinyó Cava Reserva, 2013

Almejas con Chorizo
La Caña Alberiño, 2015

Catalan Beef Stew with Mushrooms and Patatas Bravas
Camins del Priorat, 2015

Crema Catalana
Rare Wine Co. Historic Series Charleston Special Madeira

Chef(s): Dario & Matt
Photographer: Angela

Has this ever happened to you? You’re studying the menu on restaurant’s site, and just as you are reading the description for the Moroccan lentil salad, you are shown an annoying lightbox. Did you just win a free salad? No, someone wants to “connect”:

Ellary's Greens Lightbox

Sorry, Ellary’s Greens, I’m going to use your site as an example, even though this is happening on far too many sites right now. I assume that the waitstaff at Ellary’s doesn’t make a habit of grabbing customer’s menus while they are reading them only to ask if they’d like to receive emails about news, recipes and special events. Why should website visitors be treated any differently? This isn’t just a bad user experience, it’s user hostile.

At least the Ellary’s site gave me a few seconds before throwing a lightbox in my face. Many sites obscure their content immediately with a lightbox asking for something, usually an email address. Make magazine immediately comes to mind, but there are too many offending sites to list.

So, what is a designer charged with bolstering the email subscription list to do? Find another place to put your email subscription, don’t put it in a lightbox. Sure the ham-fisted lightbox may get more subscriptions, but how many of those are bogus emails like “micky@mouse.com” and “noway@dude.net”. Remember, those additional subscriptions come at the cost of your users, which you will have interrupted and annoyed.

If my argument isn’t convincing enough, read Please stop french-kissing your site visitors.