ST. PETERSBURG — Downtown St. Petersburg is poised to welcome another big handful of restaurants and food businesses. But let's wager that only one of them will be selling this: grasshoppers.
The Lure, which opens officially today at 661 Central Ave. in the space formerly occupied by Octave, will be serving them atop the Kwai Chang tacos, one of six taco options. Corn tortillas, sliced avocado, spicy jicama slaw and — drum roll — jerk seasoned and deeply sauteed "chapulines."
That's grasshoppers. Because, as partner Tom Golden says, "Only 17 percent of the world doesn't eat insects, and we're it."
Chapulines on the menu follow a strong national trend toward insects as grub (and yes, grubs are among them), a sustainable and ostensibly delicious source of protein. At the Lure, with the tagline "cold dead fish," the chapulines are just one tiny part of a vast menu that includes sushi, flatbreads, wraps, sandwiches, tapas and more.
Golden, along with partners Richard Alday (formerly of the Rack in Tampa) and Michael Stewart (co-owner of Tampa's Ava), aims to debut a something-for-everyone approach. With two red-felted pool tables and a wall-length mural by David Boyd of Boyd's Clocks, the Lure will be alluring for, "bikers to judges, University of South Florida students to Shorecrest moms," said Golden during an exclusive walkthrough for the Times on Tuesday.
He said the team had looked at space in St. Petersburg several years back and worried that it "couldn't support a Sunday to Thursday crowd."
"You could shoot a cannon down Central midweek," remembers Golden.
Alday says the recent growth in St. Petersburg echoes the feeling in Hyde Park in 2002 during one of its dramatic growth periods.
"That's when we took a big chance and opened the Rack," explains Golden. "Sushi and billiards? What's that?"
The Lure won't just be the Rack West. With an inviting industrial-steampunk feel (think light fixtures strung from antique box springs) to the reimagined 100-year-old building, it will showcase some novel strategies. Each flatbread was created by a different local chef, with $1 of every one sold going to a charity of each chef's choice. With 3 Daughters beers on draft (all draft beers are local, nationals only in bottle), 50 cents of each beer benefits three charities chosen by Golden's three daughters.
"There are six or seven places doing sushi downtown," says Alday. "But I don't think there's an amalgam approach like ours."
Amalgams are good, but for now how about those chapulines on the side?
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293.