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After delays, Good Night John Boy will soon bring disco to St. Petersburg

The Studio 54-style dance club is coming to downtown St. Pete in early 2023. Here’s what to know.
The interior of the Cleveland location of Good Night John Boy, a 1970s-style disco nightclub. A St. Petersburg location will open in the former Ringside Cafe building at 16 Second St. N in downtown St. Petersburg in February or March.
The interior of the Cleveland location of Good Night John Boy, a 1970s-style disco nightclub. A St. Petersburg location will open in the former Ringside Cafe building at 16 Second St. N in downtown St. Petersburg in February or March. [ Courtesy of Forward Hospitality Group ]
Published Dec. 16, 2022|Updated Dec. 20, 2022

Celebrate good times: Downtown St. Petersburg will finally get its disco-themed nightclub in early 2023.

Cleveland-based club Good Night John Boy announced plans to open a second location in the Sunshine City back in February. The former Ringside Cafe location at 16 Second St. N would be transformed into a glitzy wonderland of orange shag carpeting, Technicolor lights and Studio 54 flair. Local ABBA lovers rejoiced.

After nearly a year of delays, the project has finally gotten approval and owners are optimistic about opening in a few months. The Tampa Bay Times caught up with one of the club’s owners, former Cleveland meteorologist Beth McLeod, to find out what to expect.

What’s the vibe?

Think your grandmother’s basement, with an Instagrammable flair. A lineup of local DJs will spin funk and disco hits from the 1970s and ′80s. Expect to hear a few modern tunes, too.

The 4,000-square-foot space will be home to a sprawling light-up dance floor, sofas designed to be stood and danced on and, of course, a disco ball. There’s even original brick-pattern linoleum from the ′70s.

“The guy gave us a good deal because he was sick of it sitting in his warehouse,” McLeod said.

A designer spent weeks scouring eBay and garage sales for groovy vintage pieces, from corded phones and funky wallpaper to “an unbelievably huge poster of Farrah Fawcett.”

“It is definitely eye candy everywhere,” McLeod said.

Wide windows will allow people to see the flashing lights from across the street. A 1970s trailer will peddle merchandise, Jell-O shots and boozy pops. Unlike the Cleveland location, the property also features a second level with its own bar, where patrons will be able to look down at the dance floor below.

“You don’t have to dance, just come and watch,” McLeod said. “But most people end up dancing.”

The interior of the Cleveland location of Good Night John Boy, a 1970s-style disco nightclub. A St. Petersburg location will open in the former Ringside Cafe building at 16 Second St. N in downtown St. Petersburg in February or March.
The interior of the Cleveland location of Good Night John Boy, a 1970s-style disco nightclub. A St. Petersburg location will open in the former Ringside Cafe building at 16 Second St. N in downtown St. Petersburg in February or March. [ Courtesy of Forward Hospitality Group ]

What was the holdup? And when can we boogie?

Cleveland-based Forward Hospitality Group, behind nearly a dozen Ohio businesses as well as St. Petersburg’s country-music joint Welcome to the Farm, acquired the space in January 2022. While they submitted plans to the city soon after that, it took months to get approval. The same buzzing growth that attracted the company to St. Petersburg has also caused delays.

“Cleveland has one big building going up and the growth is pretty slow. There in St. Pete, we’re going up against your buildings department that has, I don’t know, 15 high-rises going up,” McLeod said. “So it’s hard to be the small guy with one project when you’re dealing with skyscrapers.”

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The property has already been demoed. The funky furniture has been ordered. Pieces of the disco floor, which arrived in July, are sitting in boxes, ready to be assembled.

Construction finally began this week. Owners are shooting for a February or March opening.

Who is this club for?

The name “Good Night John Boy” comes from a signature catchphrase made popular by 1970s television series “The Waltons.” McLeod thinks the club will appeal to both people who grew up in that time period as well as younger generations.

“Disco speaks to all ages — the old, the young, everyone in-between,” she said. “What’s fun is the older people will come in clothes they actually wore in the ′70s and the young people have all these cool new outfits.”

This summer in Cleveland, the club even hosted a 100th birthday party. The universal appeal of this era is what makes the concept stand out.

“We don’t have just one demographic of people coming to the club. And I think St. Pete is so diverse and so international that I think it’s going to be a home run,” McLeod said. “When we play ‘Dancing Queen,’ everyone jumps up and runs to the dance floor.”

Ready to get down? Follow @goodnightjb on Instagram and facebook.com/goodnightcle for updates.