ST. PETERSBURG — Munch’s Restaurant as we know it is closing.
After months on the market, the iconic eatery has found a buyer. Owner Larry Munch confirmed Wednesday that his family’s restaurant will close Dec. 30.
But there may be more hot dogs and country fried steaks in our future.
“The new owners hope to find a new operator with a shared vision of tipping their hat to the past (Munch’s) while embracing the improvements and growth that is occurring in the area,” wrote Brian Wedlake, the buyer’s representative, in an email. “I can tell you that there will be changes to the existing site (improvements) but I am not able to be specific yet.”
The buyers are waiting until the sale is finalized to go public. But according to Wedlake, the new owners are purchasing the entire site — including the property, business, name and equipment— plus several adjacent buildings. Maybe, they hope, the increase in publicity will help them find the next owner of Munch’s?
In 1952, Dean and Clariece Munch opened Munch’s as a sundries shop and post office. Over the years, the self-proclaimed “favorite breakfast spot and gossip center” of St. Petersburg grew a loyal following.
Their Texas hash and creamed chipped beef drew the attention of Food Network king Guy Fieri in 2011. Re-runs of the “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” cameo continued to introduce new patrons over the years.
Larry Munch, who took over the business from his parents years ago, put the property at 3920 Sixth St. S for sale in June. The eatery and several surrounding properties were listed for $2,700,000.
Munch told the Tampa Bay Times that his 68th birthday in August pushed him to put Munch’s on the market. With no children to pass it down to, he had hoped to find a buyer who wanted to keep the restaurant going.
“The new owners don’t take possession of the property till the end of January,” Munch said. “They requested that the place be closed before they purchase it.”
While the talks of a sale have gone on in the past few weeks, Munch’s has operated on limited hours. Four of Munch’s 11 employees left to find other jobs, worried that they could find themselves unemployed before the holidays.
Rumors started swirling. Patrons wanted to visit one last time, just in case.
The increased demand has brought Munch himself back into the kitchen for the first time in 15 years.
“I’m not near as fast as I used to be,” he said after a laugh. “I was never fast, but now I’m even slower. I go home and I take a bunch of Advil.”
Munch himself has not met the new buyer, only their representative. He isn’t sure who it is yet or what they have planned. He’s not a big social media user, so he hasn’t seen all of the speculation that’s been happening on Reddit and local Facebook groups after an employee prematurely announced the final day.
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His restaurant has always been the place where people come to share the news anyway.
“Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, everybody is very appreciative that we’ve been there that long,” he said. “They hope whoever comes in keeps the legacy going.”
The restaurant will be open today, tomorrow and Friday, then closed for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. During the final week, Munch’s will be open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offer a special limited menu.
“What we’re going to do is we’re going to sell what we’re actually famous for —what was on ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives,’” Munch said.
- Monday’s breakfast will be the triple D, which is shaved beef in gravy over toast. Lunch is meatloaf and mashed potatoes.
- Tuesday’s breakfast is a country fried steak special and fried chicken for lunch.
- Wednesday will start with corned beef hash for breakfast and a hot roast beef sandwich for lunch.
- Thursday will be the Boyd Hill breakfast, a biscuit with ham and some eggs and S.O.S gravy. Lunch is pork chops.
- Friday’s breakfast will be biscuits, S.O.S., Texas hash and maple sausage. The final lunch will be hot dogs, hamburgers and milkshakes.
“And that will end the Munch’s era,” he said.
After all that, he plans to relax for a few months.
Munch wants people to know how much the years of support means to him.
“Our family appreciates the 70 years that we’ve been here and the service that we’ve been able to give the neighborhood,” he said. “And I’m just very thankful that it was a neighborhood restaurant, because I’ve had a lot of friends made through the years here. A lot of families we’ve watched grow. It will be certainly be missed. This is where I come to hang out. “