Today we’d like to introduce you to John LoScalzo.
Hi John, we’d love for you to start by introducing yourself
In 2009, I was searching for a creative outlet or side hustle, if you will, for cooking but also worked full-time as a special education teacher, so owning a restaurant or food truck wasn’t feasible. Initially, I catered to people’s homes and pop-up food events at other businesses like restaurants, pet stores, vintage thrift shops, book stores, wine bars, farms, or anywhere people would let me. Eventually, I found a perfect fit with local craft breweries to create events that showcased my food and Tampa’s distinctive beers. To date, I’ve collaborated with the likes of Green Bench Brewing, Cigar City Brewing, 7venth Sun Brewing, BarrieHaus Brewing, Late Start Brewing, Coppertail Brewing, to name a few. The best place to see LOKO Cuisine in action is at our monthly Eggs & Kegs brunches, where we dish out uniquely themed beer-inspired food and fun. LOKO comes from my Italian last name LoScalzo and my wife’s Japanese surname Kojima.
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Overall, it has been a relatively smooth road sprinkled with minor challenges here and there. Over twelve years ago, we had to seek out venues and sell businesses on the idea because they weren’t familiar with the concept of pop-up events. In no time, people loved the idea, and we created a large following that enjoyed the unique dining experience. The recent pandemic was a slight challenge, but we shifted our model from in-person events to grab-and-go packaged food and growlers of beer to-go. Now we’re pretty much back to pre-pandemic guest numbers and serving practices. We’re very fortunate to have a devoted following of repeat guests who enjoy our events every month.
Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
Hospitality is definitely in my blood, but it’s not my primary calling in life. I’m in my 22nd year as a special education teacher in Hillsborough County, where I teach adult students with disabilities pre-vocational training and work skills. I’m most proud of helping my students find jobs and program placements after they graduate. What sets us apart is that we have a niche concept with breweries that don’t serve food, our menus are different every month, plus we pile on the flavors and good times.
We’d love to hear about how you think about risk-taking?
The most significant risk for me was to put my creative ideas of food and events out there and trust that people would like them.
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Website: https://www.lokocuisine.com/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lokocuisine/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LOKOCuisine