Reluctantly, after an hour of listening to and photographing adorable children and talented parents, I approached the karaoke staging area and midway, stopped to apologize to Ledo Pizza patrons for the sound about to come from the microphone.
Barb Burke, Mystic Entertainment, called the youngsters up front to rescue me from singing unaccompanied. It was Barb who would not take no for an answer and said “in order to write about karaoke at Ledo Pizza, you must experience it.”
So with hands shaking and voice trembling, I began to sing. “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat, wouldn’t you think my collections complete….” No one booed, hissed, or gasped. I, too, became bitten by the karaoke bug at Ledo Pizza.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, Ledo Pizza has been around for 10 years, celebrating its anniversary in July. It's “Tampa’s best kept secret,” said owner Patty Trevethan.
It serves beer and wine to its grown up patrons, a TV for the Bucs games (if aired) and on family night, musical entertainment to its younger guests.
If you don’t know where to look, you may drive past it couple of times on Dale Mabry Highway before realizing Ledo Pizza is tucked almost into the corner of a strip shopping plaza.
Once you enter the doors and indulge in a pizza with “crust made from scratch every couple of hours and the sweetest sauce,” said Trevethan, “you’ll be back. We have new customers every single day.”
Seven-year-old assistant Avy Trevethan agreed with her grandmother. “The pizza is so good, everybody wants it.”
Though the pizza has been named one of the top five best pizza restaurant chains in the world by the former-Queen of Daytime TV, Oprah Winfrey, Trevethan also recommended the chicken parmesan dinner or the pasta because “I eat the pasta every day … spaghetti with marinara,” she suggested.
She was proud to tell the story of a particular long distance customer: A man picked up 10 pizzas and told his wife on the phone, “yes honey, I just got here, and I’ll see you at home - in four hours.”
Ledo Pizza fans have driven from as far away as Daytona Beach and Jacksonville to get their favorite pie.
For those not willing to invest the time or gas, Ledo Pizza send their pizza via Fed Ex for a next morning delivery. Customers have ordered from as far away as the Florida Keys and even Texas.
In May, Trevethan partnered with Burke and husband, Kevin to bring family karaoke to restaurant patrons on Wednesday family nights.
From 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., kids and kids at heart choose their favorite tunes to belt out to a packed restaurant. Regular patrons know if they want a table, they must arrive before karaoke on Wednesday “or call and reserve a table,” said Trevethan.
On some occasions, standing-room-only situations have greeted latecomers.
Burke explained she was looking for “a family-oriented, clean, non-smoking restaurant with great food,” while at the same time, Ledo Pizza was looking for Wednesday entertainment. It was a perfect match.
Many parents saw a post on Burke’s Mystic Entertainment Facebook about karaoke at Ledo Pizza, and many more families have followed Burke from previous locations. Burke has watched many of the young performer blossom through the years.
“I love singing,” Gus Emery, 8 explained why he participated in karaoke. “I can express myself. It makes me better in my voice.”
Eric Flasterstein, parent to twin singers Rachel and Leslie, 9 and son Blaze, 4 said that the benefits of karaoke included building confidence and self-esteem at a young age and an unexpected benefit was “a massive improvement in reading because of the karaoke.”
“I’m the bringer-upper of the next karaoke junkie,” described Burke. “There is no other place like this in Tampa where kids can go and sing.”
“With the schools being robbed of music, this offers the kids great exposure,” said Kevin Burke, the other half of Mystic Entertainment. “You get to see the progression fairly quickly – from shaking or laughing (out of nervousness) to being confident and singing.”
“It’s a great way for a family to spend time together,” said Barb. “The parents love it and the kids love it. Patty (the owner) is great. It worked out real well.”
“The place is jam-packed with regular customers that come every week, but the karaoke is open to the public,” said Patty. “Anyone can come and do it.”