ST. PETERSBURG — Where’s Jubes, a new Australian brewpub and restaurant, opens Thursday in downtown St. Petersburg.
Except that it’s not really a restaurant just yet. Or, for that matter, a brewpub. But cocktails and a handful of local beers are on tap, the tables are all set up and the bar is open for business.
The rest will follow, sooner or later.
Like many other local restaurateurs grappling with how to open a new business right now, owner Josh Cameron has faced ongoing supply chain lags, permitting and construction setbacks. It doesn’t help that he’s still waiting on a federal brewing license and on a shipment of Australian hops — pivotal in the production of the Aussie-inspired beers central to his new business — that are stuck on a ship at the Port of Los Angeles.
But rather than wait a day (or several months) longer, Cameron is instead launching the business in phases, starting this week.
First up is a craft cocktail bar with beer taps featuring a rotating number of local brews, including selections from Cigar City Brewing, St. Pete Brewing and Coppertail Brewing Co., among others. Though cocktails weren’t a part of the bar’s original plan, they are now, and they take a cue from the overall Aussie theme. Drinks include the Eucalyptus Gimlet, made with gin, eucalyptus honey, lemon juice, absinthe and orange bitters; the Budgie Smuggler, featuring gin, strawberry liqueur, strawberries, lemon juice and basil syrup; and the Sticky Wicket, a combination of vodka, melon and elderflower liqueur, pineapple and cranberry juice.
The 1,600-square-foot space inside the building on the corner of Central Avenue and Third Street N has sat vacant since late 2019. The building, which for years still carried the name of the previous business (Lucky Dill Deli) underwent a slow progression of changes over the past few months, most notably new signs and an eye-catching black-and-yellow paint job. The spot features outdoor lounge-style seating and will eventually include garage doors that open up to the inside, outfitted with repurposed Australian poplar and industrial steel.
Cameron owns a handful of other downtown St. Pete bars and restaurants, including nearby Oyster Bar, Crafty Squirrel and A Mano, inside the old Gigi’s space on Fourth Street N. For his latest endeavor, Cameron — who is originally from New South Wales, Australia — wanted to focus his efforts closer to home. The bar’s name is a nod to the nickname Cameron said he acquired from his staff and co-workers over the years.
Dig in to Tampa Bay’s food and drink scenes
Subscribe to our free Taste newsletter
You’re all signed up!
Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.Explore all your options
Cameron partnered with Australian brewer Brian Watson, who created the SmartBrew brewing system, a process that involves Watson making and importing the wort used to make beer to breweries, who then create and fine-tune their own recipes. The beer is brewed on site and fermented through an automated tank system, which helps streamline the process.
Once the brewing license, hops and a few other ingredients arrive, Cameron and his team can start brewing and selling the Aussie-style beers at the bar. With cheeky names like Iron Knob (a West Coast IPA with Chinook, Citra and Simcoe hops), Koolanooka (a red lager with Centennial hops) and the Spanker Knob (a Pacific pale ale), the selection will offer a unique detour from St. Petersburg’s local-centric beer scene.
Cameron said he’s hoping to move into phase two sometime in July, when the bar will host a grand opening party.
For phase three — the restaurant portion — folks will have to wait a bit longer. Permits for the kitchen still need approval before construction can begin, which could take additional months to complete.
Once the food program debuts, Cameron said diners can expect a selection of Australian-inspired snacks — dishes that pair well with the beers featured — and classic steakhouse fare.
“Growing up, we were surrounded by farms,” Cameron said. “But I didn’t realize how good of steaks we were eating.”
Cameron said the menu will feature both familiar high-end cuts — prime rib, ribeye, porterhouse — as well as a selection of cuts more unique to Australian traditions. The steaks will come served with a selection of sauces and several “toppers” guests can add on, including scallops, shrimp and crab.
If everything goes to plan, Cameron said he’s eyeing early next year for the restaurant to launch.
“We’re going to keep pushing,” he said.
Where’s Jubes is at 277 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. wheresjubes.com.