Despite the challenges of the ongoing pandemic, business is bustling on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
Several new restaurants, bakeries, a kinky tea shop and more have opened recently or plan to open by early next year. Some of these will take the spots of the Brass Bowl Kitchen and Juicery, Leafy Greens Cafe or the vegan-friendly Cider Press Cafe, which is moving to another location in town.
The flurry of new openings is perhaps a small sign of recovery after the ups and downs of the last year, after the coronavirus impacted businesses across Tampa Bay.
Also happening on Central Avenue soon, two miles going from Martin Luther King Jr. Street to 31st Street will be open to pedestrians only for Halloween festivities from noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 31. It’s part of an effort to highlight Edge District businesses and Car-Free St. Pete’s vision for what Central Avenue could like without vehicle traffic.
Here’s nine new businesses that just opened or about to open on Central Avenue.
The Half Baked Potato
There’s lots of butter, lots of cheese and even more potatoes.
The Half Baked Potato hopes to bring a bit of New Orleans energy to Central Avenue, owner Ozzy Castetter said. It’ll offer nostalgic Carnival-type faire, and has a Mardi Gras aesthetic. Castetter said he has plans to crank the music up in the evenings.
The restaurant serves three options of potatoes: baked, mashed and “smashed” (meaning it’s fried and covered in Cheeto and bacon dust). There are about 24 recipes with toppings like mac and cheese, shrimp Alfredo, sloppy joe, fries and more.
It opened Sept. 22.
Address: 1626 Central Ave, St. Petersburg
Current hours: Wednesdays to Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The Candle Pour
A Tampa candle-making shop is expanding across the bay.
The Candle Pour is opening its second location in the Edge District, according to their Instagram account. Visitors will be able to make their own candles out of more than a hundred fragrances. There are also flameless options such as reed diffusers, sprays, wax melts and pure-fragrance oil.
The Tampa store is also relocating from S. Village Circle to Hyde Park Village at 1619 West Snow Circle.
Address: 1128 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Opening: Early 2022
A tropical menu is coming west of 6th Street.
Mangosteen is a cocktail bar and restaurant, according to its website, and will have an assortment of dishes: tapas, sushi, tacos, stir fry and yakitori which is Japanese-style chicken on a skewer.
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Address: 656 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Opening: October 2021
Founded in an Irish immigrant neighborhood of Stamford, Conn., back in 1935, Colony Grill is opening its first Florida location, according to Instagram. The restaurant only serves pizza and is known for its pepper-infused “hot oil” topping and thin Connecticut crust. There’s also salad pizza on the menu - it’s topped with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and balsamic vinaigrette.
Address: 670 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Opening: Fall 2021
St. Petersburg and the Mediterranean coast of Sicily have a lot in common, said Bonu’ Taverna manager Mia Maccarrone: sunshine, blue waters, calm people, a vibrant art scene and a love for oranges.
Bonu’ Taverna will take Cider Press Cafe’s space and bring a taste of Italy to the corner of Central Avenue and 6th Street. Owners of the Cider Press Cafe have plans to open a vegan gastropub and patio bar in Kenwood by the end of the year, according to an Instagram post.
While there’ll be some Italian staples many Americans love, Maccarrone said, the menu will feature dishes with southern Italian or Sicilian flair: deconstructed cannoli, octopus, a charcuterie board, plus pasta with eggplant, basil and ricotta salata.
Address: 601 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Opening: Spring 2022
The popular Tampa Bay food truck is opening a dumpling house, according to a post on Instagram. The women-owned vendor is known for offering soup dumplings, bao buns, and an assortment of vegan options. The stationary location is set to have steamed dumplings, made-to-order gyoza, shumai and mandu.
If you can’t wait, Shiso Crispy is testing menu items at Flying Boat Brewery on 1776 11th Ave N in St. Petersburg.
Address: 2300 Central Ave, St. Petersburg
Opening: December 2021
This tea shop has a kinky twist. A local LGBTQ-focused health center, Metro Inclusive Health, opened Inclusivitea with the hopes of teaching the community about sexual health.
Inclusivitea will have the staples of many cafes like tea, coffee, baked goods and WiFi — but also sells adult sex toys and Pride merchandise in its retail section. In addition to the cafe, HIV testing is available and there are two medical exam rooms. Brian Bailey, chief marketing and experience officer, told the Tampa Bay Times it was designed to be a place where people could feel comfortable talking about sexual health.
Address: 2235 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Current hours: Tuesdays to Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. It closes at 10 p.m. on weekends.
A new Italian gelato shop opened this month, according to Mammamia Gelato’s Instagram. The dessert shop features artisan gelato flavors like Speculoos, mint chocolate, pistachio and creamy coffee. Mammamia also serves frozen yogurt, vegan and gluten-free pastries, crepes, waffles, coffee and granita (similar to sorbet or Italian ice).
Address: 1691 Central Ave, St. Petersburg
Current hours: Mondays to Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Daddies Donuts and Delites
It’s all pretty in pink with Daddies Donuts and Delites’ pink walls, chairs, neon sign, merchandise and to-go boxes.
This new dessert shop serves a variety of donut creations such as raspberry white chocolate, peanut butter and jelly, French toast and many more, according to its Instagram. There’s also donut, cookie and brownie sandwiches filled with ice cream.
Address: 449 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg
Current hours: Tuesday, Wednesdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.