ST. PETERSBURG — The craft beer craze ventures into new territory when Hops & Props opens tonight at the St. Petersburg Museum of History.
The arrangement has been in the works for nearly a year. Officials at the museum have been in a long-term relationship with the owners of Hops & Props, Lucy Ziegler and her son, Eric Starr.
The mother-son duo are no strangers to downtown St. Petersburg. Patrons of Hooker Tea Co. are familiar with their scones and other offerings. But last year they sold their interest at Hooker Tea so they could look around for other options in the city.
It didn't take long for them to form a working relationship with the museum.
The cafe will offer 24 local craft beers on tap.
Don't let the name fool you. Hops & Props is a cafe — with a full menu — serving appetizers, salads and entrees.
"We have a full liquor license for our catering division, but for the cafe at the museum, we'll just offer beer and wine," Ziegler said.
And the name? "Hops for the beer and props for the aviation and boat props at the museum," Ziegler said.
"We've been doing catering since March, but our ultimate goal was to open the cafe," she said, adding that the museum was the perfect fit.
Museum officials agree.
"For a few years now we've been discussing having a cafe in the museum, similar to what the Dalí and the MFA (Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg) have been doing," said James Parrish, the history museum's event coordinator and marketing director.
But the closing of the Pier also factored into the decision to open the cafe.
"We lost some walk-up traffic after the Pier closed," Parrish said.
The city owns the property, which means the museum was limited in leasing space to Ziegler and Starr.
"Originally, Hops & Props wanted to lease the space, but due to our agreement (with the city), that is not allowed," he said.
So to stay in compliance, the museum owns all the inventory, while Hops & Props is the managing company of the cafe.
The new venture kicks off tonight.
Unlike the setups at the Dalíand MFA, which are open during museum hours, Hops & Props has a license to be open until 3 a.m. Ziegler says the cafe will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
Sandra J. Gadsden can be reached at email@example.com. Follow @StPeteSandi on Twitter.