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Check Out Audrey Dingeman’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Audrey Dingeman. 

Hi Audrey, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
Golden Dinosaurs opened on August 2, 2018. Gold Dinos is Tampa Bay’s favorite vegan restaurant, serving sandwiches, desserts, kombucha, beer, and wine, located on Beach Boulevard in beautiful Gulfport, Florida. Most items are made from scratch, including all sausages, cutlets, seitan, sliced, sauces, salads, and baked goods. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Smooth? Absolutely not. We opened in 2018 as a brand new, baby business, and immediately needed to hire more staff to keep up with the demand (good problem to have!) So, typical growing pains of a newly opened and in-demand restaurant. The next year we had our own share of growing pains related to expanding our team, menu, and reach. Then COVID hit in early 2020. We changed our entire business plan overnight and became a contactless, take-out-only restaurant and provided our own delivery in an effort to keep everyone on staff. We made it through the initial part of the pandemic fairly well, largely in part to our amazing customer base, our resilient staff, and our ability to turn our business model to one that accommodated the new world of contactless pickup and online ordering. We also created a “feed the frontline” program where folks could purchase 1-100 box lunches and in partnership with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, we were able to distribute over 1100 lunches. 

Last October, we decided to permanently close our cramped, hot dining area (it only sat 12 people) and opened up our patio to allow folks to dine “picnic-style”. We installed a walk-up window and did away with our previous order counter. This allowed us to create a larger staging area that is necessary for our large quantities of online and pick-up orders. We’ve also moved into our old dining room and use it to store the necessary dry and paper goods needed to keep up with our growing demand. 

We’ve had our fair share of struggles with customers who don’t like our policies, politics, and new standards of practices, but they are only a very small fraction of our customer base. We regularly receive notes and letters of encouragement from our fans who’ve been the most supportive and loving customer base a business could ask for, and these notes get taped up and read by all the staff and help keep us focused on being kind and serving the best damn vegan fare in the Tampa Bay area. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I am one of two owners of Golden Dinosaurs, a vegan restaurant located in Gulfport/Saint Petersburg. We specialize in made from scratch, vegan comfort food. We are most proud of the folks we work with every day – the staff of Golden Dinosaurs. Together, we have grown, created, and continued to expand our knowledge of making any and every food item into something that can be delicious and vegan. We are different than most restaurants simply for being vegan; we are different from the vegan restaurants because of our menu, but we stand together with our fellow vegan businesses in an effort to make St. Pete and Tampa Bay a vegan destination. 

Let’s talk about our city – what do you love? What do you not love?
Saint Pete/Gulfport is an amazing, blossoming city with unlimited potential. We love seeing new businesses, creatives, and communities thriving in a town that’s unlike any other. We love the weather, the beaches, the Pinellas Trail, and all the eclectic neighborhoods that make our town different. I do think our community needs to work much harder to lift up and support BIPOC folks and their lives and endeavors, and this includes reallocating funds for police and putting more money back into the neighborhoods and city programs that need it. 

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