ST. PETERSBURG — What Cassis American Brasserie advertised was a beach party theme. What was delivered when it opened its doors Friday teetered on the edge of going too far.
Sand, tons of it, layered thickly over the smooth tile floors. Surfboards and skateboards hanging along the elegant mirrored walls. Little palm trees rooted in burlap sacks, scattered between the bistro tables. Waitresses wrapped in inflatable inner tubes; boats and antique cars parked outside.
During Friday's lunch hour, Cassis owner Philippe Berriot stopped to greet St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon, who were dining in a window booth as sand crunched underfoot.
"I think you've lost your mind," Foster told Berriot.
Berriot and several employees and friends helped transform the restaurant at 170 Beach Drive NE into an indoor beach for the weekend. Workers trucked in a boatload of sand to create the new look. They shoveled it in after hours Thursday night, so it was ready when they opened for breakfast Friday morning.
"I just wanted people to walk up and go, 'Wow,' " Berriot said. "I wanted wow."
Reno Beach Surf Shop brought in surf and skate gear and will be selling merchandise at Cassis. A huge pile of sand sat out front early in the day, waiting to be sculpted into something splashy Friday night, Berriot said. The bar also is featuring beach-inspired tropical drinks for $5.
The beach theme was designed to kick off the summer, and Berriot plans to have similar, themed displays for Bastille Day in July. Other surprise themes will follow, he said. But they may not be as messy.
"All this sand," Berriot said, looking around. "It will be gone after this weekend."