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Campy, gay-friendly Hamburger Mary's comes to St. Petersburg in August

Kenny Lawson performs in a drag show at the Hamburger Mary’s in Clearwater in May.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Kenny Lawson performs in a drag show at the Hamburger Mary’s in Clearwater in May.

ST. PETERSBURG — Mary is coming to town.

Hamburger Mary's, the famous drag-queen eatery with spots already in Ybor City and Clearwater, will open in August across from Tyrone Square Mall. It goes into a nearly 6,000-square-foot former Hooters location that most recently housed Bia Maria's pizza.

South of Market in San Francisco, Hamburger Mary's was the ultimate rebuttal to the 1980s fern bar. Gay-friendly, it was divey and free-spirited, with ruby slippers as planters, baby bottles serving as coffee creamers, and lots of people with suspiciously big feet dressed as women. It was a cross-dressing and gay hangout in which straight folks felt just fine, a warm and inclusive late-night destination where a messy burger and slightly sodden fries were the inevitable capper to carousing.

There never was a Mary, but in the 1990s her cheeky concept was franchised across the country, with almost 20 units at its peak. Tampa's Centro Ybor got one in 2009, the shambling 240-seat burger emporium settling in and immediately drawing crowds for its female impersonator shows "Maryaoke," drag queen bingo and such. The check comes in a vampy red stiletto, the fried Twinkies and tabletop s'mores are a hoot, the soundtrack an eye-rolling trip down 1970s memory lane.

In 2013, the Ybor City location owner, Kurt King, opened a Clearwater location. King, who will helm the St. Petersburg Mary's at 2901 Tyrone Blvd., said Sarasota may be next.

St. Pete will meet the Sloppy Mary, the Spicy Mary and the Queen Mary (all burgers, this last comes with grilled onions, bacon strips and a slather of Thousand Island) as well as shock-and-awe sandwiches like the Mac Daddy, whereby you can top your patty, be it Angus ground beef, turkey or garden burger, with a big scoop of housemade mac. Add to that a full array of cocktails (many with sly gay innuendo names like the Zipper Ripper or the Long "Guy" Land Iced Tea) and some hilariously excessive desserts, and it's not hard to adhere to the tagline: "Eat, drink and be Mary."

Contact Laura Reiley at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.

Campy, gay-friendly Hamburger Mary's comes to St. Petersburg in August 07/22/16 [Last modified: Friday, July 22, 2016 8:26pm]
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