Zoie’s, a bar and restaurant on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, has closed. On Sunday night, owner Jeff Baker announced on social media that the closure follows his cancer diagnosis.
Dubbed “a place for everyone,” Zoie’s opened in November and quickly became an LGBTQ+-friendly staple downtown. Baker wrote in a post that the diagnosis has made him “reassess what’s most important in life,” leading to the decision to close the restaurant for his health and family’s well-being.
Comments on the announcement are still rolling in, with people wishing Baker well and noting how much they’ll miss Zoie’s. One person thanked Baker for creating the restaurant, and another wrote, “You created a space of inclusion that hopefully inspired many.”
In the time that it was open, Zoie’s hosted multiple events, including regular drag brunches, trivia nights and live music performances. Supporting local talent was central to the restaurant, which had murals and other pieces painted by local artists — notably one of Baker’s dog, Zoie, the namesake of the restaurant.
Baker called the experience of owning Zoie’s a dream in the restaurant’s announcement post and credited its loyal guests for turning it into a reality.
The restaurant served Southern comfort food, from fried green tomatoes to barbecue peach-infused pork chops. It also boasted “specialty Southern cocktails” complete with catchy names like the “Southern Belle’s Mint Julep” and “Ginger? I Barely Knew Her!”
Baker couldn’t be reached for comment. In the post, he thanked Zoie’s staff for being the “heart and soul” of the restaurant and central to its success.
“Zoie’s has always been more than just a restaurant. It’s a brand that stands for community and goodwill. We’ve had the privilege of partnering with numerous local organizations, contributing towards making our community a better place, and this is something I will always be proud of,” the post read.