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Asian steakhouse Fortu coming to downtown St. Petersburg

A restaurant with cherry blossom aesthetics will take over the spot of the former Ceviche restaurant.
Fortu is an Asian steakhouse coming to St. Petersburg's Beach Drive and Central Avenue in early 2023.
Fortu is an Asian steakhouse coming to St. Petersburg's Beach Drive and Central Avenue in early 2023. [ Courtesy of Benson Hospitality Group ]
Published Sep. 16

A new Asian-inspired steakhouse will open at Ceviche Tapas Bar & Restaurant’s former home on St. Petersburg’s Beach Drive and Central Avenue next year.

The restaurant space at the Ponce De Leon Hotel has been empty since last year when Ceviche relocated to 332 Beach Drive NE. Now it has a successor: Fortu.

Fortu is an upscale eatery from Shan Bakrac, who runs Black Cattle Burger and Top Slice Pizzeria. He’s also the son of the Ponce De Leon Hotel’s owner, Savni Bakrac. The menu will offer a variety of Asian food and steakhouse staples like beef tartar, gyoza, braised beef wontons and Japanese wagyu steak. Prices will range from $20 for shared plates, $25 to $50 for meals and up to $90 for select beef cuts.

Fortu will have wood columns that resemble cherry blossom trees and red accents representing happiness and fortune.
Fortu will have wood columns that resemble cherry blossom trees and red accents representing happiness and fortune. [ Courtesy of Benson Hospitality Group ]

Benson Hospitality Group is the newly formed company behind Fortu, combining Shan Bakrac’s other St. Petersburg operations with the chef-owned CCM Hospitality in Orlando. The group is focusing on expanding in St. Petersburg by franchising Black Cattle Burger and Top Slice Pizzeria. Fortu is their first fine dining concept.

“It’s an elevated dining experience,” said Cory Saffran, Benson Hospitality Group’s vice president of operations. “We want to attract the locals looking to go out for a nice dinner and the tourists who are here for the day.”

The name of the Asian steakhouse restaurant is a made-up word that pays homage to fortune and Asian culture. The name is especially meaningful to Bakrac, who said he’s come full circle from working as a food runner at Ceviche in his youth to now opening his own restaurant here.

The menu will have Asian and steakhouse staples like beef tartar, gyoza, braised beef wontons and Japanese Wagyu steak that range from $20 to $90.
The menu will have Asian and steakhouse staples like beef tartar, gyoza, braised beef wontons and Japanese Wagyu steak that range from $20 to $90. [ Courtesy of Benson Hospitality Group ]

Fortu’s design will have large wood columns lit to look like cherry blossom trees, lantern lamps, red accents throughout the seating and neon signs of the restaurant’s logo.

“Red is a bold color, and in a lot of Asian cultures, it means happiness, wealth or fortune,” Saffran said.

The 5,000-square-foot restaurant can fit up to 150 people and will have outdoor patio and sidewalk seating. There’ll also be a private dining room set for visitors to book for events. Fortu will open early next year at 95 Central Ave.

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