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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.

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Helen Richards

Seabreeze Restaurant

Born in Tampa in 1926 from Spanish and Cuban descendants, Helen Richards has known no other home but Tampa. She remembers growing up near what was then Drew Army Field. She also recalls the abundant dairy farms of Tampa and the rural, empty landscapes. In 1955 she married Robert, who at the time ran a roofing business with his brother Wayne.

Robert longed for a boat of his own so that he could fish commercially, and by the mid-1960s he was working on boats along the Gulf Coast while Helen remained home to raise their four children. He docked his boat next to the Seabreeze Restaurant, which had been owned by the Licata family since 1919 and moved to various locations around Tampa. Robert began renting the small space next to the restaurant, and paid the Licatas for the space with soft shell crab, which was used to make devil crabs that had been served since the business first opened as a shack in 1919.

In 1992 the Licata family sold the restaurant to the Richardses, who ran the restaurant until 2001. Robert passed away in 2012, the same year his daughter-in-law Donna purchased a small building on North Boulevard to roll and sell devil crabs to customers who missed them from the original Seabreeze. The devil crabs are prepared and frozen for customers who take them home to fry them, and they’re also prepared in the trolley next door that serves as a food truck.

Date of interview:

Sara Wood

Sara Wood

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The Southern Foodways Alliance drives a more progressive future by leading conversations that challenge existing constructs, shape perspectives, and foster meaningful discussions. We reconsider the past with research, scrutiny, and documentation.


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