Oxford Exchange owners to open library inspired cafe in St. Pete hospital

Published April 4 2018
Updated April 4 2018

ST. PETERSBURG — The family behind Tampa-favorite the Oxford Exchange is launching a new restaurant across the bay inside of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital.

The Peabody — slated to open Sept. 21 — will have an identity separate from its Tampa counterpart, but capture the same bookish and conversational atmosphere.

"When we went to the Oxford Exchange and saw what a catalyst it is for connection and people engaging in conversation, we knew that’s what we needed for our new research and education building," said Sylvia Ameen, the hospital’s vice president of marketing and communications.

Previous coverage: New building will attract research and talent to All Children’s

Hospital CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen, asked Oxford owners and siblings, Allison Casper Adams and Blake Casper, to create the restaurant space in the new 225,000-square-foot research building in 2016.

Instead of building a smaller Oxford Exchange, the Caspers — whose family controls more than 50 McDonald’s franchise locations — decided to use Johns Hopkins University’s own history to influence the space.

Its name — the Peabody — comes from the George Peabody Library in Baltimore, which is the 19th century research library of Johns Hopkins University.

Adams said she and her team used the historic library’s aesthetics in their cozy and welcoming design.

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Unlike the Oxford Exchange — an abandoned arcade turned restaurant, retail and meeting space — the Peabody will be a 4,000 square-foot cafe.

It will have grab-and-go options and room for 160 guests between its outside and inside dining areas. It will be the only restaurant inside the hospital’s new research building, which has a planned opening date of Sept. 20.

While likely to become a go-to spot for hospital staff, the cafe will be open to the public seven days a week as well — 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. during on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekends.

"It’s not just the people in the campus we’re bringing together," Ameen said. "It will bring the community to the table to have conversations about how to improve the health care of our children."

Contact Sara DiNatale at [email protected] Follow @sara_dinatale.