ST. PETERSBURG — Durty Nelly's Irish Tavern, a bar that draws punk rock or hard core clientele, has found a new home in the BayWalk Midcore building.
Known for its Wednesday night $2 domestic pitcher specials, forest green walls and DJ nights, the bar thrived through the patronage of a large, mostly young following at 661 Central Ave., steps away from the State Theatre and a row of long-shuttered shops.
Its new home at 149 First Ave. N, behind BayWalk, is a world away. The new bar includes wood paneling, cork flooring and a cork-lined bar left behind by Tastings, a wine bar that departed more than a year ago. The bar's neighbors include Starbucks, the Atlanta Bread Co. and the soon-to-be revamped Jannus Landing.
Co-owners Stephen Smith, 29, and Mike Pestke, 32, former employees of Jannus Landing, signed an eight-year lease and plan to open Friday.
"We had to spend a lot of money to make it look bad. It was a really nice space for us," Smith said, joking about the approximately $10,000 the partners spent moving in. "Not make it look bad, but make it more like Durty Nelly's."
That included bringing over many of the old stools, the framed map of Ireland, the vintage illuminated Mickey's beer sign and "Durty Drew," the quirky doorman who Smith said stands below 4 feet. They are keeping the drink specials, which include $1 well drinks and, if you have a tattoo, 25-cent beers on Thursday nights.
New additions are pay-per-view on large-screen TVs, a streaming Webcam, a photo booth and bigger restrooms with the men's room featuring a "bathroom guy with a tuxedo T-shirt." They will open before noon to accommodate the snowbirds' desire for a Bloody Mary.
"They are planning on upscaling their image a little bit. I think it's going to work out nicely," said leasing agent Fred Bullard III.
BayWalk might be suffering from low occupancy rates and dismal crowds, Smith said, but good things are happening downtown, such as the recent Bishop Tavern and Jannus Landing renovations. The Midcore building is owned by the city.
In the old space, parking could be difficult, but Durty Nelly's new location is below a 1,350-space city parking garage, where patrons get four hours of free parking through June.
According to the bar's owners, the rent has roughly doubled, though the 3,600-square-foot space is about the same.
Smith said in its former location Durty Nelly's was known for fistfights before he and Pestke began enforcing a no-tolerance policy. He said the new Durty Nelly's will be a "melting pot for all sorts of people."
He added: "We're happy to step in and show people that not all things BayWalk (are) bad."
Luis Perez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2271.