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Datz to open in St. Petersburg, join the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

Lunch guest eat at Datz Deli at 2616 South MacDill Ave. in Tampa. Times files.
Published Sep. 26, 2017

Now Datz news.

Get it? Tuesday, Datz, the longtime line-out-the-door, oft-Instagrammed and -Yelped Tampa stalwart known for shock-and-awe sandwiches and oh-so-much bacon, announced it is coming to St. Petersburg.

Scheduled for a spring 2018 opening, Datz DTSP will adjoin the forthcoming James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art with a restaurant at 180 Central Ave. This will be the first Datz to open outside of its flagship location in South Tampa. They will also open a small Datz cafe inside the museum.

Suzanne and Roger Perry, who also own Dough and Roux in South Tampa, already had their eyes on St. Petersburg and will launch a restaurant called Dr. BBQ with celebrity barbecue champ Ray Lampe early in 2018 at 1101 1st Ave S., in the city's EDGE District.

The Perrys originally had plans to open a Datz in the parking lot next to Dr. BBQ. But now, that parking lot is back on the market.

"We're in the process of selling the parking lot and I can't talk about what it's going to be," Roger Perry said. "But it will be good for the EDGE District. So we decided to move Datz to another location. Lo and behold, we had an opportunity to bid on this restaurant."

Since Dr. BBQ will be over 200 seats and they envision a second Datz at about that size, Roger Perry said, they were concerned about having two huge restaurants side by side. He views the new location as a hot spot, "at the corner of Main and Main."

"If we were to pick a location in St. Pete, it would be there."

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Once a city parking garage, the corner of Central and Second Street S is being transformed into a museum and retail experience. At the helm of the development is project manager Laura Hine. Harvard Jolly Architecture will be designing the new Datz restaurant in addition to its work on the museum.

The complex is big, almost 7,700 square feet. The Perrys will launch Datz with approximately 150 seats indoors and another 100 on a patio, its bar with two sides facing the patio (heavy on the happy hour, Roger Perry said). They will also operate the small cafe inside the museum, a Southwest theme, although a menu has not yet been established. And they will utilize the museum's huge catering space for special events.

With another Datz not too far away, does this cannibalize their flagship?

"To some people in St. Pete, Tampa is out of town," Roger Perry said. "We did a Facebook questionnaire and asked where people would like to see a second Datz. The overwhelming choice was St. Petersburg."

Datz started in 2009 as something of an homage to the country's ambitious but old-school delicatessens. It morphed over time, ditching some retail, adding macarons and other fancy baked goods, but through it all cultivating a sassy social media style that has garnered attention from USA Today, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, Food Network, FYI and Good Morning America.

The St. Pete location may not have the benefit of the snarky billboard out front (best one recently was a Hurricane Irma lament based on the 2012 "Ermahgerd" meme: "Irma Gerd"). But Roger Perry said the look of the place will be very similar to Tampa's, the menu will be identical and many of the core staff members will switch sides of the bay.

Despite the deluge of new restaurants, craft brewers and artisanal food businesses in downtown St. Petersburg, Roger Perry is bullish about the prospects of this Datz.

"We did our homework on this one."

Contact Laura Reiley at lreiley@tampabay.com or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley.

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