Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Ferg's Sports Bar to expand reach into Orlando

Ferg's Sports Bar in downtown St. Petersburg has long been the "second stadium" of the Tampa Bay Rays. Now owner Mark Ferguson is expanding the Ferg's universe to a long-vacant train depot in downtown Orlando.

Introducing: Ferg's Depot.

It's an overhaul of a depot in the iconic Church Street Station, which for years was Orlando's premier entertainment complex. Built in 1890, it operated as a station for more than three decades. In the 1970s and '80s, the station was a nightclub hub, until declining popularity in the late 1990s brought its heyday to an end.

Within Ferguson's 15,000 square feet — 5,000 of which are air-conditioned — are three buildings. One section, called Ferg's Tap House, will be reminiscent of the St. Petersburg sports bar, seating 75 people. A second section, housed in the old train waiting room, will hold 100 people. It'll be home to an upscale dining room and lounge — and a small nightclub after 10:30 p.m.

A third section will hold an indoor/outdoor oyster bar.

There's also space in a shared courtyard for a tiki bar so close to the street, "you can walk 10 feet and have a drink," Ferguson said.

Bathrooms and kitchens will be housed in shipping containers designed to look like trains.

He is leasing the $3.1 million property with the option to buy. The new location will generate about 60 jobs, he said.

"It's something we're going to build and have for a long time," he said.

Ferguson said the Depot won't affect operations at the St. Petersburg location, which is larger at 20,000 square feet. He hopes to open in Orlando in October or November.

He chose Orlando for its large customer base: thousands of downtown workers plus a vibrant nightlife scene. The advent of light rail and popularity of the nearby Amway Center, home to the Orlando Magic, were also attractive.

"I hope to bring another piece of something that will bring back Church Street Station," he said.

An ad campaign with the slogan "We've been working on the railroad" launches today.

Claire McNeill can be reached at [email protected]

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