A trio of hospitality veterans are uniting the St. Petersburg of yesteryear with the present through their soon-to-launch restaurant. Cafe Ten-0-One and Creative Catering owner Frank Edgar has teamed up with Derrick Harmel and Ed Lowery, who helped open the St. Pete eatery Iberian Rooster (Lowery as executive chef and Harmel as general manager), to bring the Belmark back to the EDGE District.
Shooting for a Feb. 1 debut, this Belmark is a revitalization of St. Pete’s original Belmark restaurant, a local landmark opened in 1949 and closed in 1993, according to Times records, where Cafe Ten-0-One and Creative Catering are at 1001 First Ave. N. The new concept will revamp Cafe Ten-0-One with a chef-inspired menu offered in an old-school diner atmosphere.
“We’re not sticking to the classic diner thing,” said Lowery, whose culinary pedigree also includes stints at Skipper’s Smokehouse and the Refinery in Tampa. “We’re going to be playing kind of interesting music and just making it friendly for everybody around.”
Edgar will continue to helm Creative Catering, while Lowery focuses on the restaurant side of the new Belmark and Harmel leads the marketplace planned for its parking lot and the iKitchens. Multiple iKitchens, or digital eateries, slinging food for delivery will operate from the Belmark kitchen as well.
The original Belmark, which had seven owners throughout its run, was known as an inexpensive spot to grab a meal and for items like meatloaf plates and open-faced sandwiches. Lowery described the restaurant as “just a classic Florida diner.”
Featuring 40 or so seats, the new Belmark will carry greasy-spoon staples with a modern slant, from appetizers and salads to sandwiches and entrees during dinner hours. Breakfast, lunch and Sunday brunch are in store, too.
Much of the menu, including the ground round burger with chili sauce, relish and mustard on grilled brioche and the sticky sweet chicken wings with celery, carrots and buttermilk blue cheese, is a nod to what Lowery grew up eating in his native Rochester, N.Y.
Other highlights: house-made sauces and dressings, plus beef brisket, daisy ham and turkey breast smoked daily on site. Culinary Institute of America graduate Edgar, who is also behind the award-winning Fat Fred’s BBQ in St. Pete and whom Lowery considers a strong pastry chef, will spearhead the desserts and pastries.
And, it turns out, sweets are a fitting addition to this Belmark. The assortment of pies from John and Pat Ivey, who owned the original Belmark from December 1974 to June 1982, were a big hit. Another pair of previous owners, Donna and Richard Lacey, who purchased the restaurant from the Iveys in 1982, told the then-St. Petersburg Times in August 1984 that they “inherited the tradition of making pies fresh every day.”
Outside, the covered, open-air marketplace will showcase fresh produce and local wares, sort of like a miniature farmers market for the restaurant and the public. Harmel hopes to incorporate live music and more elements so it becomes an entertainment hub on weekends.
“It’s about revitalizing old landmarks and old St. Pete,” said Harmel, a restaurant consultant and downtown director for Club Savor. “There’s a lot of big, big restaurants opening up. People are spending millions and millions of dollars to impress people. … I wanted to bring back the Old Florida kind of vibe but updated, and let people know that St. Pete is rich in history. You just got to find those little gems.”