ST. PETERSBURG — Although downtown St. Petersburg is in a remarkable period of restaurant growth and rejuvenation, there's still a bit of sad news. After four years as a downtown stalwart, the St. Pete Brasserie closes its doors Saturday.
Known for its homey but sophisticated spins on French brasserie classics like duck confit and Alsatian onion tart (one of the Tampa Bay Times' award-winning dishes a couple of years back), the restaurant, at 539 Central Ave., was a large space. And therein lay the problem, according to owner Justin Chamoun.
"Beach Drive is Beach Drive, and the second block of Central Avenue gets a lot of attention with First Friday. They have all the foot traffic down there," he said. "But this is a large space for this part of Central. That's always been a challenge."
The space, in the historic Alexander Building, previously did a short stint as the Table, an interesting "Atlantic Rim" concept that failed after an employee was raped in 2008 during a robbery. As the St. Pete Brasserie, chef J. Ward has presided over a mid-priced French menu beloved for its multicourse prix fixe offerings. Chamoun is undecided about whether he will sell or try a new concept. What he is confident about, however, is the future of this part of Central Avenue.
"It's primed and will start to get attention: Two breweries are coming in, and Rococo Steak is going to do a lot of good things, acting as the bridge between Tropicana Field and our part of Central."
But none of this happened soon enough to save the brasserie. Its 15 employees were told of the closure on Tuesday.
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.