Doors open Friday at the Birchwood hotel's restaurants, a soft opening with lunch at 11 a.m., dinner beginning at 5 p.m. and the rooftop lounge welcoming guests starting at 4 p.m.
Chuck Prather, owner of the 1920s Spanish Mission-style hotel at 340 Beach Drive NE on the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront, initially hoped to have the inn open by December but the $6 million renovation ran long. The newly renovated hotel was formerly called Grayl's and before that, Lantern Lane.
"Friends and family" nights have taken place this week to work the kinks out in the farm-to-table restaurants before they open to the public. Expectations are high: Prather has hired a notable culinary team to oversee proceedings at the 225-seat fine-dining Birch & Vine on the hotel's first floor and the more casual rooftop Canopy bar and restaurant. For general manager he has tapped Robert Snow, who was with Roy's for 17 years, much of that time as the managing partner of the Tampa location.
In the kitchen, Prather and Snow have brought on Jason Klein, who received critical raves for his work as executive chef at Tampa's Bin 27 Bistro. Todd McNulty, most recently of St. Petersburg's Wood Fired Pizza, serves as wine and spirits director.
In the main restaurant, which will feature a lobby bar and lounge as well as sidewalk seating for 50, appetizer prices will run between $8 and $18, with entrees between $18 and $40.