From Soap Opera to Restauranteur – A Discussion with Ciccio Group Partner Jeff Gigante!

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In this segment of the program, we spoke with well-known Tampa restauranteur Jeff Gigante.  From the St. Petersburg, FL soccer fields to the kitchens of New York City and back again to Tampa Bay, he has learned a lot about how to build a successful business with skyrocketing growth and shares with the listeners his path to success.  Originally from New Jersey, Jeff relocated to Florida in 1971. Soccer was his life for over 15 years before he attended Florida State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Studies. From there, Jeff went on to earn his Master of Arts from the Burt Reynolds Institute for Theatre Training.   Jeff took his talents to the Big Apple in 1991, with the dream of becoming a successful actor. Like most aspiring actors, Jeff entered the restaurant industry, where he was groomed and cultured by some of the best restauranteurs in New York City, including the Lanza family.  He had a role in the Soap Opera “Loving” but after that focused on the business of food.  Jeff knew that his hometown was prime for new restaurant ideas, so he partnered with James Lanza to bring one of their successful concepts to Tampa. In 1996 he opened Ciccio and Tony’s in the SoHo District. The restaurant thrived, and Jeff and his associates at Ciccio Restaurant Group are now the Caesars of a small empire of restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.  Today their brands include the Lodge, Fresh Kitchen, and Green Lemon just to name a few and he shares with us the reason for the name change from Lime to Green Lemon which effectively is still a Lime!

Knowing that part of their restaurant’s success was due to the growing community, Jeff formed SoHo Business Alliance with over 30 restaurants, bars, hotels and shops. This new alliance coordinates improvements and expansion in the area, which supports every business. Jeff also helped establish the SoHo Business Watch Program to combat thefts and crime in the growing area. This is a great segment for aspiring restauranteurs and any entrepreneur needing inspiration!  Find out more about their brand at and catch this and many more interviews at and please subscribe to our Channel to help support #entrepreneurs in the community!  To get on the #MorningDiscussion too, visit for more information!


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