TAMPA — Natural wine bar and restaurant Bayou Bodega is closing.
The owners cited difficulties with the restaurant’s Davis Islands location as a reason for the shutter and said that they are hoping to relocate to a new spot in the Tampa Bay area in the future.
“We just could never get a consistent crowd in there, ever,” owner Robert Sickler said when reached by phone on Friday. “We’d have (days) where we’d have one, two tables — that’s not sustainable.”
Sickler and his wife, Yarinel Ramos, opened the intimate bistro on E Davis Boulevard in 2021. Inspired by cities like New Orleans and Oaxaca, Mexico, Bayou Bodega sported a menu featuring Creole and Caribbean flavors and was among the first in the Tampa Bay area (and the first in Tampa) to feature a wine program exclusively devoted to natural or so-called low intervention wines.
In the years since, natural wine programs have surged in popularity, and there are now several spots highlighting the wines. Though the restaurant’s food and drink proved popular with diners outside of the Davis Islands neighborhood, Sickler said the program never really took off with residents nearby.
“We had this foolhardy notion that if we bring really good food and really good wine there, we’d be sustained by the island,” he said. “Honestly we had people that lived in Colorado and Ohio that came in more regularly than next door.”
Bayou Bodega will likely serve its last meal on Saturday, Sickler said.
Before opening Bayou Bodega, Sickler and Ramos lived in Colorado, where they operated a New Orleans- and Florida-inspired cocktail bar. Sickler said he hopes to return to the cocktail world and find a new location with a liquor license.
“We really want to do a bar concept, like Bayou Bodega with really solid cocktails,” he said.