John has hospitality in his blood and beer on his mind. He was born in New Orleans and has lived in Georgia, California, and Arizona. John has called Tampa Florida his home for over 30 years, drawing much of his inspiration from West Tampa and Ybor City. A passion for bringing people together through food runs deep in him. His Southern mother and Sicilian grandmother passed on their love for food and showed him how to use cooking as an expression of creativity. John’s father operated the historic Elmwood Plantation restaurant in New Orleans and entertained famous stars such as Dean Martin, Buzz Aldrin, and Jesse Owens. His uncle owned numerous bars and restaurants around the Big Guava, including Brother’s Lounge, a key cog in the 80’s jazz club scene. Spending over fifteen years in the restaurant, catering, and bar industry enabled John to hone his culinary knowledge and skill. John’s understanding of classic French techniques and Latin cooking took root at Tampa’s Mise en Place Bistro. The next stage in John’s journey found him catering for private parties and teaching cooking classes.
In 2009, John needed a creative outlet for his cooking and founded LOKO Cuisine. Working full time as a special education teacher, John felt owning a restaurant or food truck was not feasible. Instead, John sought to partner with Tampa breweries to create beer forward events that showcased his food and the Bay Area’s distinctive beers. With a unique name stemming from the union of John and his wife’s last name, LoScalzo and Kojima, LOKO Cuisine wrote its origin story. LOKO’s philosophy is a simple one: “beer and food go hand in hand. I feel that beer is an underrated ingredient in the kitchen and has a complexity of flavors and styles that it can shine in any meal for any occasion.” To date, LOKO has created events with Cigar City Brewing, 7venth Sun Brewing, Coppertail Brewing Company, Late Start Brewery, Hidden Springs Brewery, Green Bench Brewing, Webb’s City Cellar, BarrieHaus Beer Co, Cycle Brewing, Funky Buddha Brewing, Stone Brewing, New Belgium Brewing to name a few. Also, LOKO has produced delicious beer collabs with these breweries.

The best place to see John in action is at Eggs & Kegs, a monthly pop-up brunch where LOKO Cuisine teams up with local breweries and business. Every third Sunday, hungry regulars, foodies, and newbies can be seen lining up to enjoy a beer-inspired meal, a pint of brew, and experience the fun side of food and drink pairings. Due to Covid-19, this has evolved into Grab & Go style, where guests can still enjoy both food and beer to-go.

No matter what, John always creates a uniquely themed menu and piles on the flavors and good times!