Politics | WCTV Eyewitness News: Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta

Silver Slipper Slips

By: Liza Park Email
By: Liza Park Email

It's the end of an era... for both the Tallahassee Community, and Florida politics.
After 71 years as a local restaurant and icon, the Silver Slipper, closed its doors over the weekend.
People say they're surprised and certainly sad and are talking about with others around town.
Many are remembering its historical significance to Florida politics.
The Silver Slipper first opened its doors during the Great Depression in 1938 on Adams Street just across from what was to become Florida A&M University... and just down the street from the Florida Capitol.
That was soon after Governor Frederick Preston Cone took office and about the time when two new wings were being built on the old Capitol.
Tallahassee native and former legislator Sandy D'Alemberte says he literally grew up where the new capitol now stands and says political activity would just flow right down into the Silver Slipper.
"An awful lot of contact just among legislators. They would all go to that place. There were other places to go but so often people would meet there. The Silver Slipper was the place to go," explains D'Alemberte.
When D'Alemberte began serving in the legislature in the 1960's, the Silver Slipper was still a part of Florida politics.
The restaurant moved to the Northwood mall when it suffered a fire in 1974, and then to this place on Silver Slipper Lane where it remained a iconic restaurant for those involved in Florida politics.
"I first came to Tallahassee to go to work for the board of Regents. The first night I was here I had to have my rite of passage at the Silver Slipper," recalls Mark Levine, the attorney for the owners of the Silver Slipper.
Many say that the Silver Slipper had private dining areas from the very beginning, and that allowed for lawmakers to get business done after hours. Of course, that was at a time way before Florida's open government Sunshine laws.
Levine says he just doesn't know at this point whether the Silver Slipper will stay closed or it they may make a comeback. He says they've got to figure out what the owners want to do.
Levine says the poor economy may have contributed to slowed business for the 71-year-old restaurant, but the says it has more to do with the gift ban laws.
The restaurant has survived many other recessions and lean times since it opened in 1938... Levine says the gift ban law that went into effect a few years ago made quite a dent in the Silver Slipper business.
... can't take them to dinner."
But some lawmakers, lobbyists and other politicos say they have no problem with the gift ban that prohibits anyone from giving gifts... even food and beverages... to lawmakers.
They say Tallahassee restaurants should learn how to survive without depending on business from the legislature.
Even so, pictures of top politicians and other celebrities make it to the the impressive wall of fame at the historic restaurant... making what some call a "mini museum." Six former U.S. presidents, including John F. Kennedy are proudly displayed on the walls.


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