Sunday, May 27, 2018
Bars & Spirits

The Independent bar is returning to downtown St. Petersburg

ST. PETERSBURG — Opened in 2005, the Independent was at the vanguard, an early prophet preaching the joys of craft beer.

In 2012, John Vellines, one of the heroes of the Tampa Bay beer scene, closed this St. Petersburg institution, reopening for a bit as Empouria, the Art of Beer. Part of the reason for the name change was practical: After a divorce between Vellines and his wife, Veronica Danko, she kept the location in Seminole Heights, opened in 2009, while John kept the St. Petersburg space with the proviso that he'd change the name.

Well, now the Independent is coming back to St. Petersburg. In May, Danko contacted a business broker who told her about a building at 1049 Central Ave. that housed the Amsterdam. There was a contract on the building at that time, but that buyer chose to pass on the opportunity and Danko and her business partner were able to hop on it, purchasing the building in June.

In the next month, she will reopen the Independent, St. Pete's "Original World Class Beer Hall," at this location.

"For several years, people have been asking me to bring back the original … Indie. I have been talking to people and thinking about it, but the opportunity has never arisen until now," Danko said. "After speaking with former customers, beer industry representatives, brewery owners and other St. Pete business owners and residents, I am convinced that the St. Pete Indie is a welcome addition to St. Pete's booming beer scene."

Currently in the interior design and planning phase, the 1,600-square-foot space will be a more contemporary interpretation of the original Independent. Dan Schmidt (from the Independent Tampa and Independent St. Pete) and Ryan Fouche (from Independent Tampa and Jug & Bottle Dept.) will share responsibilities as the general managers of the St. Pete Indie.

There will be 25 constantly rotating local, national and international drafts on tap, a limited number of curated craft bottles, a unique wine selection and a few specialty beverages. There will be no food at this location.

Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

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