TALLAHASSEE -- The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association named Bill Shumate of Square 1 Burgers & Bar along University Parkway and in Fort Myers and Tampa the owner of Bella's Italian Café to its Hall of Fame.
Shumate was awarded the 2014 Restaurateur Hall of Fame Award Tuesday.
Shumate opened his first restaurant in Norman, Oklahoma in 1964, a burger joint called "Across the Street." It was located across the street from the University of Oklahoma. In the late 80's, Shumate decided to launch his misson of bringing the people of Tampa authentic Italian cuisine. Twenty-four years later, he's still running Bella's Italian Cafe alongside his business partner and Executive Chef Joanie Corneil.
Inspired by a yearning to go back to his burger restaurant roots, he began developing a new concept in 2006 for "Square 1 Burgers," bringing Shumate back to Square 1.