ST. PETERSBURG — Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, a popular Sanibel Island restaurant with locations on Captiva Island and Fort Myers Beach, will now be able to claim a site in St. Petersburg.
Mayor Rick Kriseman announced Friday that he has selected the restaurant for one of two prime spots at the $76 million, 26-acre Pier District that will open in 2019.
The new Doc Ford’s will occupy the former Pelican parking lot, a waterfront site adjacent to 25 public boat slips.
In a statement, Kriseman said that "after careful consideration," he has selected DF St. Pete, doing business as Doc Ford’s Rum Bar & Grille, for the pier site.
"With three locations just south of Tampa Bay, Doc Ford’s has already established a reputation as a highly successful destination restaurant," Kriseman said.
Mark Marinello, a partner in the restaurant, said his group is excited.
"We are ready to become a big part of the community up there," he said, adding that they have already been in contact with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital to include it in Doc Ford’s charitable giving.
The restaurant expects to hire about 100 people "and maybe a little higher in season," Marinello said.
Kriseman said "the restaurant’s name and Florida theme, based on the novels by New York Times best-selling author Randy Wayne White, will appeal to both residents and visitors."
Local restaurateur Steve Westphal, owner of Parkshore Grill and 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House, had also submitted a proposal for the pier site. He said that he was disappointed not to have been chosen.
While the mayor has selected Doc Ford’s for the former parking lot and will also pick the restaurant that will occupy the pier head, his decisions are subject to City Council approval. A proposed lease with Doc Ford’s is expected to go before the council sometime this spring.
Contact Waveney Ann Moore at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283. Follow @wmooretimes.