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Timelapse #1: The Hot Tomato Sandwich Shop

We knew what it looked like but not what it could become. So photographer Andy Ledoux and I set out for The Hot Tomato sandwich shop on Route 674 in Ruskin FL. This local eatery serves fast food like everyone else. It does well, despite stiff competition from Burger King, Denny’s, McDonalds, and other nearby highway restaurants. The tomatoes aren’t actually spicy, nor particularly hot unless they’re in the occasional tomato pie with cornmeal crust, a Florida specialty. What is unique about the place is its atmosphere, its tempting bakery, and a great facade.

There’s a competitor next door, a mobile sandwich truck whose grizzled owner said she’d just heard on her police radio that they were looking for a road rage perp. She pointed to the helicopter circling overhead. I assured her I wouldn’t try to photograph him if he showed up. According to one of the locals, she sells “dynamite burgers.”

Plunked in a lawn chair, filming this sequence with my Canon EOS-M (which took 25 minutes), I was approached by a young couple. I described what I was doing and the girl said, “oh, an artist!” and rushed to her car. She returned with her drawing pad and showed me her picture-in-progress. With its lurid fantasy theme, it could work both as a tattoo or a local band’s CD cover. I said it had potential and wished her luck.

The music is a selection from Study for Player Piano No. 35 by Conlon Nancarrow. It was not sped up.

Peter Bates

Peter Bates is a writer and photographer living in Florida. He is the administrator of this blog and runs the blog Stylus.

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Published in Articles & Reviews Timelapse Videos


  1. Cary Cary

    Nice. Reminds me of an all-night Dunkin’ Donuts timelapse I did from my rooftop in ’76.

  2. This is a great project.!! I enjoy nostalgic moments that remind me of NYC Bronx back in the early days.

    Another interesting artist that runs an art gallery inside of his covenient store is Thomas Thong.

  3. The blog post “20 Seconds at the Hot Tomato Sandwich Shop” on HDR Bodega Photo features Peter Bates’ experience creating a timelapse video at a local eatery in Florida. Bates shares the unique atmosphere of the Hot Tomato Sandwich Shop and his interactions with the people around it, offering a glimpse into the local culture and community.

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