Oak & Stone with self-serve beer coming to St. Pete, South Tampa’s Byblos to reopen

Published November 15 2017
Updated November 20 2017

COMING SOON: OAK & STONE

Been to Oak & Stone in Sarasota? In early 2018 weíll get one in St. Petersburg at 199 Central Ave., next to the newly constructed Hyatt Place. The concept is wood-fired pizzas mated with a self-serve beer wall highlighting craft beers (mostly locals like 3 Daughters, Cycle and Green Bench as well as other regional brews). The beer wall will be the largest in the region with more than 60 rotating selections. The owners, Joe Seidensticker and Brett Decklever, long-time friends, chose St. Pete for its great reputation as a craft beer and food destination, as well as its blossoming downtown.

Hereís how the beer thing works: To pour the self-serve taps, guests use a RFID-enabled wristband to engage the brew tap desired. Technology in the wristband links to software that starts the guestís tab based on how many ounces are poured during the visit and automatically stops after a total of 40 ounces. Guests can then "reload" their bracelets with more ounces.

Burgers, entrees, salads and soups round out the menu with starters such as pretzel-crusted tuna sashimi, triple cheddar pale ale mac and Oak & Stoneís signature wood-oven wings.

Oak & Stone will have room for 300 diners, between the 6,000-square-foot restaurant and a 3,000-square-foot outdoor deck with tables and chairs for dining, couches and fire pits, large-screen televisions, billiards and corn hole.

On weekend evenings and during special events, the restaurant will feature local DJs.

Itís a formula that has proven successful for the Sarasota location, which debuted in 2016. Still, thatís a lot of craft beer and a lot of pizza in downtown St. Pete. Room for all of it? We will see.

ReOPENING: BYBLOS

This is more of a redux situation, but Byblos, the long-standing South Tampa Lebanese and Mediterranean restaurant, has announced it will reopen at the end of November. Iíve been zipping by the construction site every few days and it still seems a ways off, but they claim they will be ready to reveal a newly renovated interior, a revised menu blending longtime favorites with new chef-inspired dishes, a refined collection of craft cocktails and high-end wines, plus a stylish, covered patio area reminiscent of South Beach.

This has been a South Tampa classic since 2001. Owners and siblings Roger and Ziad Estephan began the extensive redesign of the restaurant this summer, reconfiguring the bar, cocktail lounge and dining areas to more comfortably accommodate guests. The new look features upscale furnishings like mahogany tables and custom-made high-back leather banquettes, floor-to-ceiling windows, and an open-air seating area accented by a water feature bordering the patio and a built-in fireplace.

Executive chef David Puatu, former chef de cuisine at Council Oak in the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Tampa, has developed a new selection of meze, or small dishes, plus new entrees and brunch dishes that will include regionally sourced foods and freshly made pastas. General manager Manny Quinones, formerly of the Hard Rockís Grey Salt restaurant, has been busy mixing up a new lineup of cocktails showcasing additions like house-made infusions. 2832 S MacDill Ave., Tampa. (813) 805-7977. bybloscafe.com.

PDQ: NEW MENU TIME

The Tampa Bay concept PDQ is rolling out a new menu and testing it in a number of local markets before debuting it in all 62 locations starting Dec. 12. The new menu includes an array of salads and bowls, such as the Yia Yiaís Greek or the Queso Crunch with crispy chicken, black beans, chili lime corn, salsa verde, grape tomatoes, queso drizzle, scallions, Fritos and rice.

PDQ will open its first new Tampa Bay locations in more than a year in Seminole (7400 Seminole Blvd.) in January and Westchase (8730 W Linebaugh Ave.) in December. It will also debut in the Tampa International Airport in early 2018, serving breakfast for the first time.

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