ST. PETERSBURG — A new open-air seafood restaurant and bar is opening on downtown St. Petersburg’s First Avenue N next month.
A raw bar and seafood steamer menu will debut May 4 at Cap’s, which is opening at 226 First Ave. N, inside part of the space that was — until very recently — home to MacDinton’s Irish Pub.
The new spot is a joint venture from Jannus Live proprietor Jeff Knight and Jon “Reno” La Budde, who are also opening a separate bar and live music venue called Welcome to the Farm together with country music star Chase Rice in the next-door space. That concept, which La Budde hopes will help St. Pete attract up-and-coming country music acts, is slated to open this summer.
Cap’s was inspired by Knight’s great-grandfather, Eugene Theodore “Cap” Knight, a rum smuggler who in the 1920s opened Cap’s Place, a restaurant, speakeasy and gambling den on Lighthouse Point on the east coast of Florida. Both Knight and La Budde grew up near the coast (in Florida and the Bahamas), and the restaurant’s seafaring menu was borne out of their love for fresh seafood and the open water, La Budde said.
“The hook is, it’s also really quick and it’s healthy,” La Budde said.
The business is a three-pronged operation and includes a separate full-liqueur coffee shop called Coffee Grounds (formerly located on Treasure Island), which is now open and features pastries, sandwiches, Kahwa coffee beverages and alcoholic drinks. A raw seafood and steamer bar will open May 4, and in the following two to three weeks, the full restaurant menu will debut, said executive chef Jason Gordon, who together with his wife Ashley Simmons is running the spot’s restaurant operations.
Gordon was previously the executive chef at The Big Catch at Salt Creek (which La Budde also owns) and designed the seafood-focused menu, which is divided into shared plates, salads, flatbreads and grilled items.
Starters include snacky, shareable dishes like garlic prawns, tossed in togarashi butter and mango curry served with rice noodle crisps ($14); conch fritters with remoulade ($14); prosciutto and manchego croquetas served with a roasted garlic aioli ($12); and a barbecue chicken flatbread ($13).
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Larger plates include a selection of grilled dishes, like grouper ($17) or shrimp ($14) tacos; a brisket and rib smashed burger topped with caramelized onions, smoked white cheddar, tomatoes and arugula ($16); a 10-ounce gaucho flank steak served with patatas bravas, confit red peppers and a cilantro salsa verde ($26); and a smoked pulled pork sandwich ($15).
For the raw bar, guests will have the choice of raw seafood selections like half a dozen or a dozen oysters on the half-shell ($14/$26), tuna poke ($13) and a sashimi of the day ($13). A choose-your-own-adventure setup for the steamer bar lets diners choose from a variety of seafood options by the pound and half-pound (scallops, clams and mussels). Following a 90-second steam, there’s a choice of several different bases (saffron rice, bucatini noodles, sauteed vegetables) and sauces (garlic butter, Cajun butter, white wine lemon cream sauce).
Once fully open, the restaurant will operate as an entirely al fresco spot, with the raw and steamer selections displayed at two street-facing bars and sidewalk seating for roughly 80 people.
In a nod to the nearby nightlife scene on downtown St. Petersburg’s busiest bar block, Gordon said he plans to run a separate late-night menu and the raw and steamer bar options till 2 a.m. There is also a full bar program (the menu is still in development) and drinks will be served till 3 a.m.
If you go
Cap’s is located at 226 First Ave. N, St. Petersburg.