Thirsty First will soon move into Acropolis Greek Taverna’s former building, more than tripling its current space and allowing owner Greg Mikurak to bring his vision to fruition.
The sports bar has occupied a location befitting its name near the intersection of 1st Avenue and 1st Street North in downtown St. Petersburg since 2016. Mikurak said Thirsty First outgrew the space and the kitchen he built “underneath a parking garage, basically.”
The moving trucks will only have a half-mile trek from 119 1st Ave. N. to 515 Central Ave. Mikurak said the two-story building would allow him to significantly expand the menu and showcase every sport simultaneously from myriad angles.
“When you walk in there, it is wall-to-wall, corner-to-corner, 70 TVs,” Mikurak said. “There are 13 TVs going into a full wall. It’s a really cool, immersive experience … and we’ll be able to rent out the whole second floor.”
Mikurak, who also owns Ride ‘Em Cowboy and co-owns Whiskey Exchange, said he signed a lease on the former Acropolis space nearly 10 months ago. According to Mikurak, extensive legal wrangling ensued when the previous lessees failed to vacate the building.
Remodeling efforts are now in full swing as he hopes to open the new location in early January. The College Football Playoff National Championship is Jan. 8, and Super Bowl LVIII kicks off Feb. 11.
“Obviously, with building and permits and all that kind of stuff, it’s an open date,” Mikurak said. “But we’re definitely pushing as hard as we possibly can for that.”
He said the current location encompasses 2,700 square feet, while the two-story building provides nearly 9,000. Although Mikurak plans a bevy of new menu items and features, he said the Thirsty First name will remain.
Mikurak said he and his wife established the Thirsty First moniker before securing the serendipitous spot on 1st Avenue. “The first thing you do when you go to a place is order a drink,” he explained.
“So, you’re thirsty first,” Mikurak added. “It just so happened that our first place was on 1st Avenue.”
He said a common complaint about the current location is the omnipresent smell of fryer oil. Mikurak said permitting issues impeded the installation of a complete filtration system.
While he half-jokingly said the french fry smell became a part of Thirsty First’s identity, patrons will no longer have that problem. In addition, Mikurak said he could now expand its brunch, lunch and dinner offerings to include seafood and steaks with a “real kitchen.”
“We’re upscaling our sports bar aspect, as well as the whole ideology of what a sports bar really is,” Mikurak said. “We were never just a sports bar.”
He said the new location would also feature a stage for live music, karaoke nights and local artists. Mikurak said patrons could watch 13 various games on the video wall.
Thirsty First quickly reaches capacity during its signature mixed martial arts and boxing events, something Mikurak said the two-story building would alleviate. However, he stressed that the concept enjoys a diverse, “eclectic crowd” rather than just “the bros.”
“There’s a ton of stuff we’re expanding on to have it as a really cool, full experience,” Mikurak added. “That’s why it’s taking a long time for us. We’re going to make sure we do it right.”