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Sophia’s, St. Petersburg Italian restaurant, has closed

The popular restaurant from the team behind Lolita’s Wine Market opened in 2019.
St. Petersburg's Sophia's Cucina + Enoteca has closed.
St. Petersburg's Sophia's Cucina + Enoteca has closed. [ "MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | TIMES" | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Mar. 31
Updated Apr. 1

Sophia’s Cucina + Enoteca, the popular St. Petersburg Italian restaurant from the team behind Lolita’s Wine Market, has closed.

Calling the news “bittersweet,” owners Alex and Kelly Rodriguez made the announcement through email and on their website Tuesday evening.

“The past 12 months have led most businesses, small and large, to evaluate their go-forward strategies,” the couple wrote. “This decision allows us to concentrate on the growth of our other exciting businesses.”

The restaurant, an Italian trattoria on the corner of Central Avenue and 24th Street, opened in the summer of 2019, wowing both critics (including this one) and locals with its approachable and creative spins on modern Italian cuisine and buzzy social atmosphere.

Related: Restaurant review: Sophia’s Cucina + Enoteca brings a modern Italian trattoria to St. Petersburg
Sophia’s Cucina + Enoteca, on the corner of Central Avenue and 24th Street, opened in 2019.
Sophia’s Cucina + Enoteca, on the corner of Central Avenue and 24th Street, opened in 2019. [ "MARTHA ASENCIO-RHINE | TIMES" | Tampa Bay Times ]

Just shy of its two-year anniversary, news of the restaurant’s shuttering came as a shock to many of the spot’s loyal local fans. But the couple said they planned to hold on to the name and concept of Sophia’s, and on Wednesday morning, Alex Rodriguez said that they are looking for a restaurant space with a “smaller footprint” to reopen in the future.

“Kelly and I have evaluated our business structure and will move our company, KA-Boom Concepts, forward with smaller spaces which allow us to have less operational liability,” Rodriguez said. “We feel the operation model we have developed at Lolita’s is our niche and look forward to bringing Sophia’s back in that format at a later date.”

Besides their flagship restaurant, Lolita’s Wine Market, the couple also run a busy catering operation, and in a few weeks they will open Sammy + Paco’s Market Cafe, a new breakfast and lunch spot, at 2735 Fifth Ave. N.

Though no opening date has been announced yet, a new Italian restaurant from restaurateur Nando Silvestri will take over the Sophia’s space on Central Avenue. It will be called Matteo’s, after Silvestri’s son.