Canadian NFL star goes deep for Tampa Bay

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 15: Guard Ian Beckles #62 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blocks against the Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Stadium on October 15, 1995 in Tampa. Florida. The Buccaneers won 20-17. (photo by Allen Steele/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Bucs guard Ian Beckles #62 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blocks against the Minnesota Vikings at Tampa Stadium on October 15, 1995 in Tampa. Florida. (Photo by Allen Steele/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Ian Beckles of Montreal found a professional home playing for the Buccaneers and remains active in the Bay area of Florida.

Story by Rod Charles

TAMP BAY, FLORIDA — Ian Beckles may be the ultimate snowbird. Born and raised in Montréal, Beckles made a name for himself in the NFL as a guard for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles.

After a 12-year stint on radio, Beckles found his entrepreneurial side working with What’s Hot Tampa Bay Magazine. Today he spends most of his time on his business DignitaryCard.Com, which Beckles describes as a concierge card for influencers in the area, providing discounts to all the great spots in the area. When he isn’t promoting Tampa Bay, you can find him diligently working on the Ian Beckles Foundation, a charity that is dedicated to helping children. Beckles enjoys life with his wife of 21 years, Dayle, and his three children, Zayna, Marques and Payton.

With a beautiful family and a summer season that never seems to end it’s unlikely we are going to get Beckles to leave Tampa and return to Canada any time soon. There is good news, though — he will always be a Canadian at heart.

“I’m always going to be Canadian, because that’s where I was born, and I’ll always be proud to be Canadian. But right now my home town is Tampa Bay. I’ve been here since 1990, I’ve actually been here longer than I’ve lived in Canada,” he says. “I’ll always love Montreal but now Tampa Bay is my home town. I don’t think there’s a better city in the United States.”

Beckles took a few minutes out of his schedule to share the things he loves most about his favourite city. He says it doesn’t matter what your interests are, Canadians can find tons of fun things to do in Tampa Bay.

Ian Beckles’ Top 10 Tampa Bay Picks for Visiting Canucks


Chef Marc Murphy at Grey/Salt (Seminole Hard Rock Casino).

1. Seminole Hard Rock Casino
Address: 5223 Orient Rd
Phone: 1-813-627-7625

Why Ian loves it: I think it’s the best casino in the nation. And it’s the busiest casino in the nation, believe it or not. A lot of people think it’s just about gambling, but they have two of the best restaurants in the Bay area, Council Oak and they also have Grey/Salt. They have a great buffet there. It’s owned by celebrity chef Marc Murphy. It’s just a good place to hang out if you want to go and have a drink. And they have a lot of great events at the Hard Rock Cafe, so I spend a lot of time there.

2. Acropolis Greek Taverna
Address: 1833 E 7th Ave, and two more locations
Phone: 1-813-242-4545

Why Ian loves it: Acropolis has the best authentic Greek food in town. Great atmosphere and an upbeat vibe. Try the Athenian Fish, it rocks.

3. Square 1 Burgers & Bar
Address: 3701 Henderson Blvd
Phone: 1-813-414-0101

Why Ian loves it: Well, I fell in love with Square 1 Burgers a long time ago, I’m a big burger guy. I love food, I love to cook as well. They have one of the best burgers out there. They are almost like gourmet burgers, but they’re also big enough to keep a big guy like myself satisfied. So when I crave a burger, I head over there.

4. Mini Doughnut Factory
Address: 2109 S Dale Mabry Hwy
Phone: 1-813-254-5374

Why Ian loves it: I got exposed to them, I met the owner, great guy. He actually got the concept when he was in Canada somewhere, not sure exactly where, might have been Tim Hortons. But he makes these hot, mini doughnuts, kind of like doughnut holes, and I was just exposed to it and it’s one of the best products that’s been around in awhile. Delicious, and very addictive as well. They have a maple bacon, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.

5. The Jerk Hut
Address: 4495 W Gandy Blvd, and two more locations

Why Ian loves it: My father was from Trinidad, my mother Guyana, so I’m West Indian at heart and in my blood as well. I love West Indian food, Caribbean food. And the Jerk Hut — they have three of them here in the Bay area — and the owner Andrew is just true to the heritage and the food is delicious. I just need to get a curried chicken and a beef patty into me once in awhile. I frequent the Jerk Hut Downtown Tampa but the Jerk Hut on Fowler has the best buffet in town.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning Game (Amalie Arena)
Address: 401 Channelside Drive
Phone: 1-813-301-6500

Why Ian loves it: I’ve been blessed to see two different NHL teams win the Stanley Cup, Montreal being one and then Tampa Bay being the other. And, yes, I celebrated to the wee hours of the night on both occasions.

So I’ve had pretty good exposure to hockey at the highest level. We’re relatively new to hockey in Tampa Bay, but the passion for hockey is equivalent to that of Montreal. People love hockey here to the point that it’s probably the number one sport in Tampa Bay as far as popularity, people love to go to hockey games. It’s where all the good-looking people are, they dress up real nice. It’s totally hot outside, but it’s always nice and cool inside. It’s just a good feel and the Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik is beloved in this whole area. He’s done wonderful things to revamp the Tampa Bay area. So as far as all the professional teams, the Lightning probably get the most love.

TAMPA, FL - NOVEMBER 15: Pirate ship of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on November 15, 2015, in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers won 23-19. (photo by Eric Larson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

Pirate ship of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Dallas Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium on November 15, 2015, in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers won 23-19. (photo by Eric Larson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers Game (Raymond James Stadium)

Address: 4201 North Dale Mabry Highway
Phone: 1-800 795-BUCS (2827)

Why Ian loves it: Well, I’m a Buccaneer, I wore the orange back in the 90s, so I got that in my blood. You’ve always got to support the home team, they finally have the franchise quarterback in Jameis Winston so I think all the fans are eager to get this season going. Everyone has genuine expectations of this team going back to the playoffs, they had their heydey for 10 straight years, and then things have kind of fallen off a bit. But I believe everyone believes this is the year to get back on again.

8. Cigar City Brewing
Address: 3924 W Spruce St
Phone: 1-813-348-6363

Why Ian loves it: The owner Joey Redner, I saw him pretty much start the company and grow it into a premier craft beer brewery in Florida. It’s one of the most popular breweries in this area, it’s a great product.

9. Ducky’s Sports Lounge
Address: 1719 West Kennedy Blvd and two more locations
Phone: 813-254-6160

Why Ian loves it: This is a new sports bar concept that was opened by Evan Longoria, who is a star third baseman with the Tampa Bay Rays. So they’ve got a place here in South Tampa, they have a place in the stadium, and they also have a place in the airport as well. They serve great food and they’ve got indoor bowling. It’s a great place to hang out and have a good time and watch some sports.

10. Long Ash Cigars
Address: 1728 E 7th Ave
Phone: 1-813-374-0346

Why Ian loves it: I like to smoke a cigar once in awhile and Tampa Bay in general is known for cigars. If you want to get an authentic cigar, go to Ybor City. Everything’s made right there in house, you can have a coffee or a cognac with a cigar. It’s right there on the strip in Ybor City on 7th Avenue. Just a great feeling, you’ll get the whole feeling of Ybor City.