Out of the kitchen and into the V.
Chef J. Sean Squires departed Jeff Knight's new Kitchen in the Jannus Live complex on April 15, only to reappear nearly instantly as the culinary art director of the new V, which opens Friday at the site of the now closed Venue, 2675 Ulmerton Road near the Carillon Business Park in St. Petersburg.
The 28,000-square-foot dining/nightclub complex had lost its way in the past year or so, having chosen to focus on expanding the stage and drawing in bigger musical acts — largely at the expense of its two onsite restaurants.
Under new owner Jeff Bernier and managing partner Daniel Disbro, the V hopes to change all that. Hiring Squires, who has a history of helping to launch notable local restaurants from Island Way Grill, Marlin Darlin' Key West Grill, Salt Rock Grill to 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House, is a first step.
"What was the sushi restaurant at the Venue will now be a sushi restaurant called Crave, and the other restaurant will become Vin, a global fusion tapas restaurant, and the club upstairs will become Club Five. Our goal is to be a multi-concept restaurant, and a nightclub more secondarily," Squires said.
To that end, Squires has brought along several key staffers from his recent stint at the Kitchen, as well as maintaining a number of the Venue's original kitchen crew.
According to Disbro, the direction of V will shift significantly.
"We inherited a beautiful building, and our agenda was to create some excitement for all five senses. We added new landscaping and LED lighting for curbside appeal, stained the floors and enhanced the woodwork, adding modern decor. We're trying not looking to go after the 18-year-old crowd. We're aiming to bring back that prestigious feel, more for grownups with lunchtime, happy hours and things like business person networking groups."
But, says Disbro, a multi-concept project of this scale is hardly a normal venture.
"It's going to be a challenge. Big monster restaurants are kind of a thing of the past, but we have good people in place."
Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293.