Chief’s Creole Cafe in St. Petersburg has closed

The restaurant opened in 2014 in St. Pete’s historic 22nd Street South corridor.
Chief's Creole Cafe in St. Petersburg has closed.
Chief's Creole Cafe in St. Petersburg has closed. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published April 7|Updated April 12

ST. PETERSBURG — Nearly 10 years after serving its first bowl of gumbo, Chief’s Creole Cafe has closed.

Owners Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy took to Facebook on Friday to announce their celebrated Creole and Cajun restaurant in St. Petersburg’s historic Deuces corridor had permanently shuttered.

“Thank you for 10 years of support,” the post read. “Chief’s Creole Café is now closed. Mr. & Mrs. B are moving to their next chapter. We wish to thank our staff for their dedication, loyalty, and commitment.”

The restaurant, which opened in 2014 on the corner of 22nd Street and Ninth Avenue South, became an anchor for the local community and a destination restaurant for diners all across the Tampa Bay area hankering for a taste of South Louisiana.

Crawfish, gumbo, po-boys and red beans and rice were among some of the restaurant’s staples, served at the bright coral building emblazoned with the larger-than-life mural of legendary jazz icon Louis Armstrong.

The Brayboys grew up in the neighborhood and remember when the same building housed the Sidney Harden Grocery Store, which for decades was the only grocery store serving St. Petersburg’s Black community. When they first purchased the building, the plan was to lease out the space to a restaurant or cafe. When that didn’t happen, they decided to give the restaurant business a try themselves.

Nearly a decade later, it was time to say goodbye.

“You know, I turned 74 last month and I told my wife, I was ready for something different,” Elihu Brayboy said when reached by phone on Friday. “In the restaurant business you have to be 100 percent or nothing — it’s a good time for us.”

The couple, who have been active members in the revitalization of 22nd Street South, say they’d like to go back to their original plan, and lease the space to a new restaurant owner or culinary entrepreneur.

“We would love to meet someone with a culinary desire who are looking for a great location in this city,” Brayboy said. “I see this city as being a tight space, with all of this construction coming up...and rates that might knock out the locals.”

Up next? The pair hopes to work on providing affordable housing for essential workers in the city.

For now, they’re taking a well-deserved break.

“The restaurant business sucks up all the oxygen,” Brayboy said. “It doesn’t leave much room for your personal life.”