Friday, September 21, 2018
Dining

Bruce Watters building to fall in BellaBrava expansion

BellaBrava partners have announced they will open a yet-to-be-named tavern at 224 Beach Drive NE, currently occupied by Bruce Watters Jewelers, which will move to a new storefront.

"It's going to be a new concept, but we're not quite ready to release a concept or name. It's still in development," said BellaBrava co-owner Robert Sanderson. "It won't be Italian and you can probably put it in the realm of a 'gastropub.' It will fill a niche that hasn't been filled on the street."

Jim Watters of Bruce Watters says the new showroom will be just a few doors away from the existing store. The jeweler has been at this location for 40 years, but in St. Petersburg for 109. As Watters says of the business, "It's the people, not the building."

And while Watters refers to Beach Drive as "our Rodeo Drive," BellaBrava's announcement underscores the street's shift from retail to restaurants.

From Cassis to Moon Under Water to 400 Beach, the short stretch has an increasingly rich culinary scene. Is there room for another?

"I live on Beach Drive," said Sanderson, "so I'm very aware of the high traffic volume. It has become the center of gravity for the dining and tourist scene and I think it will continue to do that."

Sanderson points to the street park and water views, museums and nearby hotels, plus, he says, "there must be close to 1,000 apartments and condos going up in a 10-block area."

Demolition of the current structure is set to begin in late April. The planned 4,000-square-foot new building will feature extensive outdoor seating (a feature that is de rigueur on Beach Drive).

"Not doing a renovation was attractive to us. That should be the better way to get a built-to-suit space," said Sanderson. Meanwhile, business at BellaBrava and other existing Beach Drive restaurants has been gangbusters this spring.

"The weather has helped," said Sanderson. "It hasn't been too rainy or too hot. Tourists like to sit outside."

Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

Comments
New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Billís Off the Hook

New restaurants: Olivia from Chris Ponte, Crabby Billís Off the Hook

COMING SOON: OLIVIAChris Ponte, right, has been a steady and notable culinary leader in our area for more than a decade with his flagship restaurant Cafe Ponte in Clearwater. A couple of years ago he mixed things up a bit by debuting On Swann in Hyde...
Published: 09/19/18
Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

Restaurant review: The Local doesn't stand out enough above its Tampa neighbors to make an impact

TAMPA Do you have this debate? "Florida is not in the South." "Um, look at a map." I guess I am in the former camp: It seems Florida gets more Southern the more north and west you go, accents only creeping in as reliably as boiled peanuts up on the ...
Published: 09/17/18
Updated: 09/18/18
Chefs offer up a taste of whatís coming to Sparkman Wharf

Chefs offer up a taste of whatís coming to Sparkman Wharf

TAMPA ó On Wednesday night, about 60 people got a sneak preview of what Tampa diners soon will experience at Sparkman Wharf, part of the $3 billion Water Street Tampa neighborhood that Jeff Vinik and Strategic Property Partners are developing in what...
Published: 09/14/18
Whatís new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

Whatís new in food: Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week, National Cheeseburger Day

DINE AROUND: CLEARWATER BEACH RESTAURANT WEEKPromoted by the Clearwater Beach Chamber of Commerce, Clearwater Beach Restaurant Week is celebrating its ninth year Friday through Sept. 23. The culinary celebration offers foodies an opportunity to exper...
Published: 09/12/18
Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

Restaurant review: Part fish shack, part high-end cocktail bar, Trophy Fish in St. Petersburg thrives on a fresh approach

ST. PETERSBURGI value restaurants and people the same way, I suppose. I like those with a take. They donít have to be the smartest or the prettiest, but the ones I like have a unique perspective, something that differentiates them from everybody else...
Published: 09/10/18
Updated: 09/11/18
Tampaís Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

Tampaís Fly Bar and Restaurant will move locations

TAMPA ó Restaurant announcements for Sparkman Wharf and Strategic Property Partnersí 50-acre Water Street Tampa project have come fast and furious the past couple weeks. With a price tag of more than $3 billion and reading like a whoís who of Tampa B...
Published: 09/07/18
James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

James Beard winner Anne Kearney to open Oak & Ola in Armature Works

TAMPA ó It was always part of the plan for the 22,000-square-foot Heights Public Market at Armature Works to have two anchor restaurants in addition to the fourteen quick-serve vendors. The developers debuted Steelbach, a sprawling steaks and chops b...
Published: 09/06/18
Whatís new in food: The Artisan, Big Rayís Fish Camp, Joe and Sonís Olive Oils

Whatís new in food: The Artisan, Big Rayís Fish Camp, Joe and Sonís Olive Oils

COMING SOON: THE ARTISANGulfport is heating up. Iíve been hearing raves about Golden Dinosaurs vegan deli, and now it seems that seasoned restaurateurs Michael Stewart, left, and Tom Golden will open an art and food collective called the Artisan in G...
Published: 09/05/18
Updated: 09/06/18
Are tacos the new burgers? A slew of new taco-centric places in Tampa Bay make the case

Are tacos the new burgers? A slew of new taco-centric places in Tampa Bay make the case

One thing has remained constant. Ketchup may give way to salsa as the dominant condiment, with sriracha nipping at its heels, but for decades the hamburger has been the No. 1 most-purchased menu item in food service. There it is, the hallowed beef pa...
Updated one month ago
Tampaís Columbia Restaurant will be tented for termites

Tampaís Columbia Restaurant will be tented for termites

Ringling Brothers may have been put to bed, but thereís another serious big top soon to be erected in Tampa.Tampaís Columbia Restaurant is said to be the oldest restaurant in the state, as well as the largest ó a whole city block in historic Ybor Cit...
Updated one month ago