ST. PETERSBURG — A new tiki concept from the owners of Dr. BBQ is opening this weekend in St. Petersburg’s EDGE District.
With a rum-forward cocktail menu heavy on tiki classics, Burnt Ends Tiki Bar will open March 20 at 1101 First Ave. S. That address should ring familiar to Dr. BBQ fans: The new concept is essentially a rebranding of the second-floor bar at the popular barbecue restaurant.
The idea for the new “sub-concept” bar — hatched by Dr. BBQ and Datz Restaurant Group co-owners Roger and Suzanne Perry — was to bring some of the tiki cocktail culture they’d discovered in other cities closer to home. In particular, the couple said they were inspired by dual concept bars and restaurants in Chicago, including the iconic tiki speakeasy Three Dots and a Dash.
The couple are co-owners in the project with the restaurant’s namesake, Ray Lampe, the celebrity pitmaster known as Dr. BBQ. In addition to several Datz locations, the Perrys recently opened Donovan’s Meatery, an upscale-casual steakhouse in Riverview.
Last year, shortly before the pandemic, the couple had plans to open a standalone tiki bar. But as restaurateurs, they felt a little unsure of getting into the bar business. And once COVID-19 caused the widespread shutter of bars and nightclubs for several months, the Perrys said they were happy they waited. Now, with the opening of a cocktail lounge attached to their successful barbecue restaurant, having one foot in the bar business feels a lot more approachable.
“This is actually not a new idea for us — to use one space for more than one concept,” Suzanne Perry said. “I think everyone is in the mood to have fun.”
Those familiar with the restaurant’s second-floor bar will hardly recognize it now, Perry said, describing the space as “dramatic.” The team consulted with Frank Simotics (locally known as the Tiki Rancher) to design the bar with classic tiki accents.
Patrons can enter through the staircase downstairs, where an 8-foot moai-like statue of Lampe greets guests. Upstairs, the bar is outfitted with a thatch and bamboo awning, and the dimly lit space features charred wooden planks with backlit red lighting to simulate the glowing embers of a fire pit. Local artist John Mulder is designing several limited-edition tiki mugs that guests can purchase at the bar to take home.
Helming the drinks program is veteran mixologist and Datz Restaurant Group beverage director Dean Hurst, who spent several years running the bar program at the Hukilau, the yearly celebration of all things tiki in Fort Lauderdale.
The opening menu is anchored by tiki classics like Mai Tais, made with Jamaican rum, dry curacao, lime juice and orgeat; Mr. Bali Hai, a cocktail made with rum, coffee and pineapple; and Three Dots and a Dash, made with rhum agricole, Martinique and Demerara rum, pimento, velvet falernum, orange and lime juice, honey syrup and angostura bitters.
There is also a selection of lesser-known bourbon and gin-based tiki creations, including the Port Light — made with bourbon, honey, passionfruit, lemon, grenadine and egg whites — and the Saturn, a combination of gin, velvet falernum, passionfruit and orgeat.
Though the bar will feature food from the same kitchen as Dr. BBQ, the menu at Burnt Ends will be distinct, and diners won’t be able to order off the Dr. BBQ menu. Instead, guests can nosh on small and shared plates like Spam sliders, fresh grilled fruit, fried shrimp, burnt end bao buns, Hawaiian pork ribs, pork belly satay and chile garlic edamame. Of course, if imbibers at the bar are really craving some smoked brisket and fried avocado wedges from downstairs, Perry pointed out that they could easily order food to-go on the restaurant’s app and eat it at the bar.
Once open, Burnt Ends Tiki Bar will share similar hours to the restaurant and be open daily from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., though Perry said it’s likely the bar will stay open later, especially on weekends. “We expect the bar to kind of take on a life of its own,” she said.
Eventually, the Perrys hope to host live music like rockabilly nights, burlesque and tiki-themed special events, but for now, they are still limiting capacity.
“We’re being careful,” Perry said. “We’re going to wait till people feel more comfortable. But coming down the road, you can expect all kinds of fun things.”
Burnt Ends Tiki Bar, 1101 First Ave. S, St. Petersburg. 727-443-7227. drbbqs.com.