Founder Tom White on Stage with The Lent Rollers Sunday night (Sept. 27) during the 40th Anniversary celebration. Courtesy of Skipper's Smokehouse
As people throughout the Tampa Bay area decry Tom White’s decision to retire and sell his iconic, if ragtag rock and blues venue, he is counting on the 40,000 Facebook followers of Skipper’s Smokehouse to spread the word that it’s for sale.
The outdoor oak-draped concert venue, dance floor, and mullet shack at 910 Skipper Road have shared four decades of music with the masses. And while White plans to continue with his concert-booking business, he is hoping a local will step up to take over the remainder, says Cricket Larson, Director of Marketing for Skipper’s. “It’s not going to be an Amscot if I have to take my sleeping bag and sleep on the floor,” she says.
But for now, the venue is dark after a packed weekend of celebrating its 40th anniversary.
“We don’t have a definitive date to sell by and we are not listing it with anyone. We are counting on our friends,” Larson says.
Skipper’s, which White started with two of his Air Force buddies in 1980, has introduced such notable acts to its stage as John Lee Hooker, John Mayall, Derek Trucks, and Buddy Guy. When Florida’s own Tom Petty died unexpectedly in October 2017, Skipper’s quickly put together a memorial concert with local bands that packed the house.
“We are really trying hard to see the silver lining,” Larson says.
“Tom will be 74 in two weeks. He wants to retire. COVID has kind of pushed us over the edge,” with concert cancellations and closed doors.
The selling price for the 1.62-acre property, which is zoned C-1 Commercial Intensive, is $1.5 million.
“We are committed to finding someone, hopefully locally, that gets and understands that Skipper’s is a cog in the wheel of this community,” Larson says. “Our number one priority is getting somebody who will make this brand survive for the next generation.”
Larson will be handling the sale.