Dina stands in front of the Café Alfresco sign on the outdoor patio.

Dina started working at Café Alfresco in April 2009, making her one of our longest-tenured servers and most familiar faces. Always in full makeup, always smiling, Dina has an infectious energy that’s enjoyed by each of her regular guests and fellow staff members. A thirty-year veteran of the restaurant business, Dina has worked everywhere from large-scale hospitality corporations to hole-in-the-wall bars and has definitively determined that Café Alfresco is the best place she’s worked.

A frequent rider on the Pinellas Trail, Dina took notice of Café Alfresco on her regular bike ride through Dunedin. She noticed the activity and energy of the restaurant – week after week after week – and knew right away when she walked in for the first time that she would want to work here.

More than a decade later, she’s still talking about what drew her to the Café. “I love the natural light from the floor-to-ceiling windows,” she says, “it just creates such a nice, happy environment. The windows not only brighten the restaurant but let guests see downtown from their table.” And Dina is no doubt a downtown cheerleader. “The murals are amazing. Where I’m from in New Jersey we have nothing like this,” she says, smiling ear to ear, “there’s color everywhere here. I love the colorful houses in the neighborhood near Beltrees and seeing the homes on the water as I bike on Edgewater Drive.”

One thing Dina never leaves home without is a positive mindset. She tells me, “I joke with my regulars that I don’t do it for the money, I do it because I have fun with them.” Whether it’s a first-timer or one of our frequent guests, it’s clear that Dina enjoys being the Café’s friendly face and showcasing the personal service that the Café is well known for. That may be her favorite part of the job, but her favorite perk of the job is unequivocal: “the coffee. It’s so good, and there’s no coffee pot to mess with!”

When she isn’t working, Dina is at home… working! She is the founder and creative mind behind Amber’s Shipyard, a business that makes science fiction models of ships and characters from different shows and movies. A self-proclaimed ‘Trekkie’ (fan of the science fiction show Star Trek), Dina’s interest in models was piqued in the nineties, but she rediscovered her passion a few years ago and has taken it to the next level. In fact, she recently won third place in an international model-building competition! “It’s been really nice to discover this whole community of model builders in Tampa Bay,” she explains, “one of my friends owns a hobby shop and I’m part of a local modeling club, and it’s amazing to meet so many people with this shared passion.” To see some of her models, and to keep up with her competitive adventures, visit her website: www.ambershipyard.com/finished-projects.

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  • Man serves a burger from the kitchen of Café Alfresco

With more than a decade at the Café under her belt, Dina still loves the variety and quality of Café Alfresco’s food. However, since she’s been in a relationship this past year, “I try to eat healthier when I’m working so I can enjoy dinner with my girlfriend. That’s what a relationship will do to you!” She says she opts for a salad with salmon when she’s trying to be healthy, but when Jaime is on the grill she has no choice but to order a cheeseburger. For a special occasion, however, “nothing beats the sautéed scallops.”

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