Make us your home page

Bar review: Park and Rec game bar takes over WoB

The neon sign above the bar reads, "youth has no age." That much is clear, considering the continued rise of the game bar nationwide, and the conversion of downtown St. Petersburg's former World of Beer space into a late-night hangout populated by full-grown adults rolling Skee-Balls, smashing air hockey pucks and mashing buttons on a variety of classic arcade consoles.

Park & Rec is the anchor in a trinity of First Avenue S businesses owned by Stephen Schrutt's Hunger + Thirst Restaurant Group, which also owns Kings Street Food Counter a few blocks west on Central Avenue.

Along with neighbors the Avenue and Proper Kitchen & Cocktails, Park & Rec is the final third of Hunger + Thirst's food, drink and entertainment block — a single, sprawling entity, where you might have happy hour at the Avenue, dinner and drinks at Proper and games (and more drinks) at Park & Rec.

If you liked the World of Beer, you'll probably get along fine at Park & Rec.

There's more wood than brick now, and some of the seating has been displaced by arcade consoles and an air hockey table, but the overall layout will be familiar to former WoB patrons. Some will see this as a shortcoming, but it's a smart layout, and changing too much would spoil a lot of built-in functionality. If it ain't broke, and all that.

If any updating stands out, it's the on-the-nose marketing to millennials. From the #getrecd stickers to a wall of 100 emojis — if this doesn't make sense to you, you may not be in the target demographic — and aggressively loud Top 40 tunes dominating conversations even on weekday nights, it's clear who Park & Rec is mostly for.

On weekends, that makes it a pretty happening party spot. I feel that a lower volume might be the right play on weeknights, where the bar is more modestly filled. Then again, I've never even used the 100 emoji.

The best feature at Park & Rec, save the arcade games, is the spacious front patio, bordered by a newly turfed cornhole area — a smart use of space that was once just an awkward extension of the parking lot. Lots of room to stretch out on the patio, and it extends right into the outdoor dining area of Proper.

Park & Rec is a game bar. Skee Ball, air hockey, basketball and a slew of vintage video games are available to play, including classics from Galaga to Mortal Kombat.

Unfortunately, many of the games need some real TLC. I've heard reports of the air hockey being out of order, and the multicade console's joystick flat out doesn't work. Most tragic of all, one joystick on WWF Superstars has only partial functionality, making it impossible for Hacksaw Jim Duggan to properly set up a running clothesline against Big Boss Man. That's just no fun.

On the upside, Park & Rec stocks about two dozen beers on draft, as well as some very affordable canned options. The wine list is simple and reasonable, and there's full liquor. The cocktail list is surprisingly ambitious given the unpretentious, "party" feel of the place. Some of the cocktails are prepared in bulk and served on draft during the weekends, a cool timesaver. The nine house signature drinks have range, as well as a few funny names, like Make America Grape Again, much needed comic relief.

Look, this is a full-liquor bar that slings high-end cocktails alongside rounds of Tekken Tag. The sale practically makes itself. But there are improvements to be made, and I hope the management considers them. Cut the volume down a touch on slow nights and fix up those poor arcade machines. Park & Rec has a good location and vibe to do okay with a bunch of half-working arcade games, but why not spend a few extra bucks and make the experience excellent? That, truly, would be keepin' it 100.

Park & Rec

100 Fourth St. S, St. Petersburg; (727) 245-9100;

The vibe: A high-energy arcade and sports bar that also serves craft cocktails, if you can believe it.

Food: A limited menu is available for delivery from Park & Rec's neighboring sister restaurants, the Avenue and Proper, $8 to $14.

Booze: Beer, wine and liquor. Beer, $3 to $7; wine, $8; liquor, $6 to $10.

Specialty: Try the house cocktails, many of which are handmade in bulk and served on draft during busy weekends. Some have hilarious names, like Make America Grape Again (Tito's, grape puree, lime, ginger beer); and I'm Not a Hipster, I Just Bike a Lot (Sailor Jerry, allspice dram, lime and an improbable addition of Pabst Blue Ribbon). For a proper classic arcade tie-in, go with the Donkey Kong: Monkey Shoulder blended scotch, maple simple syrup, cardamom bitters and a Filthy Food maraschino cherry.

Hours: 2 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tuesday through Friday; noon to 3 a.m. Saturday and Sunday; closed Monday.

Bar review: Park and Rec game bar takes over WoB 02/09/17 [Last modified: Sunday, February 12, 2017 12:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bar review: Les Partners Lounge goes old-school in Clearwater

    Bars & Spirits

    There are some local places that I'm shocked aren't more well known, and I think that's the result of a general aversion to stepping out of one's comfort zone. I make regular concerted efforts to step outside of mine, which often leads me to strange and rewarding drinking establishments.

    Les Partners Lounge is an old-school, smoker-friendly cocktail lounge and live music venue tucked away in a nondescript shopping plaza in Island Estates.
  2. Local craft beer of the week: Plongeur a L'eponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co.

    Bars & Spirits

    Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. has a somewhat idiosyncratic approach to wild ale brewing, utilizing an open brewing approach involving uncovered fermenters in order to brew beer with local ambient microbes, reminiscent in some ways to the fermentation techniques used by rustic farmhouse breweries in Belgium …

     Plongeur a?€š€™L?ˆš??ponge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, 6/23/17  Electric Chair Sour Shandy, Angry Chair Brewing, 6/30/17   Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA, Motorworks Brewing 7/7/17
  3. ‘80s acts dominate lineup of 2017 Epcot Food and Wine Festival


    Oh, yes. Christmas is coming early this year to ‘80s fans in Florida. Disney’s Epcot Center has announced the lineup to its “Eat to the Beat” concert series that coincides with their annual International Food & Wine Festival.

  4. Equality Florida leader honored at Tampa U2 concert


    TAMPA — Equality Florida director Nadine Smith couldn't attend last week's U2 concert in Tampa, but she can tell you which of her friends had great seats for the June 14 show at Raymond James Stadium.

    Nadine Smith, Equality Florida founder and CEO, received a unique distinction last week when U2 included her in a montage of photos saluting activism and women leaders.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for June 23


    Leslie Odom Jr.: A solo concert by the Broadway star who won a Tony for his performance as Aaron Burr in Hamilton. 7 p.m., Ferguson Hall at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, 1010 N MacInnes Place, Tampa. $35.50-$55.50. (813) 229-7827.

    Leslie Odom Jr. accepts the award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical in "Hamilton"  during the 70th Annual Tony Awards  on June 12, 2016.  (Getty Images for Tony Awards Productions)