Tuesday was groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting day for two businesses on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.
Construction work is underway at Grand Central Brewhouse, a two-story, 10,270-square-foot microbrewery and beer garden with an adjacent restaurant at 2324 Central Ave., while Tropez St. Pete held a grand opening celebration for its restaurant and lounge at 437 Central Ave.
“I love groundbreakings and I love ribbon-cuttings because they both signify someone, or sometimes a group of people, who are willing to make an investment in our community,” Mayor Rick Kriseman said at the Grand Central Brewhouse groundbreaking.
St. Petersburg views itself as a city of arts and culture, so Grand Central Brewhouse will fit right in, Kriseman said.
“I can’t think of anything that’s as much of an art as craft brew making. There’s a reason it’s called craft. It is a craft and it’s not something everyone can do. I can’t do it. To have another great craft brewery in this city in another great location, to fill in this space that really has needed a little love and care and investment, is incredible,” Kriseman said.
The brewhouse is being built on the site most recently occupied by Taco Bus. Long before that, in the 1950s and 1960s, it was a Cadillac dealership, said Kevin Milkey, Grand Central Brewhouse owner.
Owning a craft brewery has been a long-time dream for Milkey, a recently retired executive vice president at American Strategic Insurance Corp. in St. Petersburg. There were just two or three craft breweries in St. Petersburg in 2014, when Kriseman was elected, but there are now 11 and soon to be 12, Milkey said.
Both Milkey and Kriseman said the craft brewing industry locally is very collaborative.
“They’re very supportive of each other, they collaborate with each other. They’re not looking at each other as the competitor or the enemy. They recognize that when everyone is successful, everyone benefits from that. That’s really unusual,” Kriseman said. “I talk to mayors from all over the country and I don’t hear that about their communities. That’s one of the things that makes St. Pete special.”
Grand Central Brewhouse, scheduled to open in summer 2020, will include:
• A craft beer taproom and a second-story outdoor roof terrace that will accommodate about 250 people combined.
• An open-air beer garden will be able to host an additional 375 guests.
• A second building, on the other side of the beer garden, will hold a third-party restaurant, which has not yet been determined.
Milkey has brought on Tyler Singletary as head brewer. Singletary, a veteran of the local craft brewing industry, also has an ownership interest in Grand Central Brewhouse.
The brewhouse will serve about 16 beers, all brewed on site. There will be a lot of lagers and a full spectrum of ales. The microbrewery will serve craft beer directly from the tank, implementing a European beer tank technology. These advanced-serving tanks hold high-strength bag liners with a self-cooling, bag-in-tank system that will be used directly in the taproom. With less beer handling involved, this technology results in fresher beer than keg storage and a longer shelf life, a news release said.
Place Architecture is the architect on the project. Boyd Construction is handing the buildout. Milkey also is working with Freedom Bank and with Hype Group on branding.