ST. PETERSBURG — A deal has been signed for a restaurant to go into the Kress building, a historic property in downtown St. Petersburg. And the name should be familiar to some.
Michael Cecere, the personable owner of St. Petersburg's Bowled, which opened in October 2008, has just taken possession of the property at 475 Central Ave. to launch his second restaurant, no small feat in this economy.
Taking the space of what is now Shah Abbas Rugs, Cecere will have to start from scratch, building out a kitchen and defining a restaurant space.
His aim this time around is something more upscale: "We're going to keep with our comfort food roots, but take it up a little, with a concept that is more of a restaurant and lounge."
Samuel Boutros, a lifelong St. Petersburg resident, bought the building earlier this year from George Rahdert, a developer who also is an attorney for the St. Petersburg Times. The 39,000-square-foot building was built in the 1920s by Samuel H. Kress, founder of the S.H. Kress chain of discount stores.
Brokered by Buddy Sauter and Brian Sprague, the deal became official Tuesday, and Cecere aims to open his new restaurant by the end of the year. Having begun his restaurant career at California Ciccio and Daily Eats, Cecere has had an uncanny ability to pinpoint what diners yearn for, offering brightly flavored, healthy dishes at reasonable prices.
His new effort, as yet unnamed, will be a welcome addition to the increasing rich downtown landscape.