ST. PETERSBURG -- Texas Cattle Company, beloved for its birthday specials, has closed its sole Tampa Bay location after 32 years.
Sales had been declining for a decade at the steak house on 34th Street N in St. Petersburg, said Seth Miller, vice president and chief operating officer of parent company Talk of the Town Restaurants.
"It was an iconic area at one time,'' he said, "but most of the dining business had moved away from where we were.''
St. Petersburg has enjoyed a restaurant renaissance in recent years as dozens of new eateries sprang up in the downtown, Edge District and Tyrone areas. The city's dining scene was far more limited in the 1970s when Talk of the Town opened a restaurant by the same name at the 34th Street location. It became Texas Cattle Company a decade later.
Though its dark interior reminded some customers of a bordello, the restaurant remained popular for its steaks, smoked over citrus and oak woods, and family birthday parties. A customer celebrating a birthday that day could show a driver's license and get a free entree.
Miller said 20 percent of Texas Cattle's 40 St. Petersburg employees have gone to work for other Talk of the Town restaurants, including Charley's Steak House in Tampa's Westshore area. The other 80 percent received severance.
Though closed to dine-in customers, the building at 2600 34th Street N is still being used for Texas Cattle's catering business, a $1 million-a-year operation. Miller said his company is looking for a new Tampa Bay location for the restaurant; the only remaining Texas Cattle is in Lakeland.
Like many other parts of St. Petersburg, 34th Street is in the throes of a redevelopment boom. The now-shuttered restaurant is a block from a big new Goodwill retail center and a few blocks from a Starbucks that opened last year. Miller said Talk of the Town has not decided whether to sell its property, valued for tax purposes at almost $1.2 million.
Talk of the Town operates about a dozen restaurants, all in Central Florida. In addition to Texas Cattle Company and Charley's, it has Johnnie's Hideaway, FishBones, MoonFish and Vito's Chop House.
Contact Susan Taylor Martin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8642. Follow @susanskate.