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Oral Histories

The SFA oral history program documents life stories from the American South. Collecting these stories, we honor the people whose labor defines the region. If you would like to contribute to SFA’s oral history collections, please send your ideas for oral history along with your CV or Resume and a portfolio of prior oral history work to annemarie@southernfoodways.org.

< Back to Oral History project: Tampa Devil Crabs

ORAL HISTORY

Donna Richards


Seabreeze Trolley Cafe

Born in Arcadia, Florida, in 1967, Donna Richards’s family moved to South Tampa by the time she was three. She grew up down the street on Palm Drive from her future husband, Danny Richards, whose family continues as one of the few remaining commercial fishing families of Tampa Bay.

Donna worked various jobs in the food industry before helping Danny and his family run their former seafood market next door to the Seabreeze Restaurant, which was owned by the Licata family. Danny’s parents, Helen and Robert Richards, purchased the restaurant from the Licata family in 1992, continuing on the devil crab tradition. When Robert and Helen were having a hard time finding people who could roll a devil crab to their standards, Robert asked Donna to move from managing the restaurant’s books to the kitchen to roll devil crabs. Helen and Robert sold the Seabreeze in 2000, but Robert was insistent that Donna continue the family’s devil crab legacy. She rolled devil crabs in a commercial kitchen and sold to former Seabreeze customers.

In 2012, the year Robert passed away, Donna and Danny purchased the small building on North Boulevard and Palm, where she continues to roll devil crabs and Danny sells his catch. One year later a trolley was outfitted and moved next to the building to serve as a food truck, where the Richards continue selling fried devil crabs, along with other fried platters like clam strips, sheephead, flounder, and even Cuban sandwiches.

Date of interview:
2015-02-13

Interviewer:
Sara Wood

Photographer:
Sara Wood

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