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Harvey’s 4th Street Grill celebrates a milestone anniversary

Bill DeYoung

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Harvey's 4th Street Grill has been at 3121 4th Street N. since April, 1984. Photos by Bill DeYoung, unless indicated.

Everywhere you turn inside Harvey’s 4th Street Grill, there’s a little bit of St. Petersburg.

The expansive restaurant/bar’s dark hardwood floors were salvaged from the original, 1925 Vinoy Park Hotel ballroom. The back dining room’s ceiling is covered with boards from the circa-1924 Soreno Hotel.

Translucent etched-glass cubes came from Webb’s City, the legendary downtown department store. And the walls are festooned with signs, posters, photos and other memorabilia from the Festival of States (Harvey’s was a longtime sponsor of the festival 5K run), Sunken Gardens and other icons of local history.

Harvey’s 4th Street Grill celebrates 40 years in business this week – that’s 40 years at the same location, 3121 4th Street N. “I think it’s really incredible,” said business manager Rosie Meyer, a third-generation Harvey. “How many family-owned businesses survive 40 years?”

Family affair: From left Dan Harvey Jr., Dan Harvey Sr., Rosie Meyer and Jane Stovall, in the back dining room. Photo: City of St. Petersburg.

Meyer’s uncle is Dan Harvey, Jr., who started the restaurant in 1984 after leaving the TGI Fridays franchise, where he was being groomed at the corporate level for big things.

According to Meyer, Harvey decided he’d rather be his own boss, and returned to St. Petersburg. His father Dan Sr. and his sister Jane Stovall (Rosie’s mother) were part of the 4th Street Grill team from the beginning.

Today, they’re all still there. Dan Harvey Sr. is 97. Rosie Meyer has a 1-year-old son – his first name, of course, is Harvey – at home.

“There’s nothing like a restaurant to give you an appreciation for hard work,” said Meyer, who began hostess work as a teenager, and then on her summer breaks from college, and has held her current title since 2020. “It’s a hard business, seven days a week. And we’re open early on Saturdays and Sundays. But it’s like hard work for fun, you know?”

Dan Harvey Jr.’s original vision hasn’t changed all that much. “He wanted it to look like it had always been in the community,” his niece explains. “He wasn’t trying to make it look like an ‘80s restaurant.”

The “old St. Pete” theme, added Meyer, was purely organic. “People love this nostalgia stuff, but this is just what we knew and grew up with,” she said. “My mom always says she remembers that they played beach volleyball in the [deserted] Vinoy ballroom, because there was no one in there.”

The Vinoy was shuttered between 1974 and 1992. The hotel’s owners gave Harvey the flooring; a plaque on the restaurant wall commemorates the gesture.

From the Soreno Hotel (1924-1992).

It was Dan Sr. who discovered the ornate wooden planks from the condemned Soreno Hotel, stacked up on a Beach Drive sidewalk in the early 1990s (the building was imploded in 1992).

The wood was eventually used for the grill’s back room, which was undergoing a major expansion at the time. “My first job at the restaurant was piecing together that wood,” said Meyer.

From Webb’s City (1926-1979).

Although there have been modifications – the jukebox and cigarette machine, for example, are history – regulars still gather at the raised bar, to watch sports and talk sports, and enjoy the camaraderie. Dan. Sr. can sometimes be found on his regular stool at the end of the bar (the nearby wall is covered with framed photos of his fishing expeditions).

It feels like family, Meyer said, and that was the intention all along.

“We have a lot of staff that’s worked with us for years. We are incredibly lucky, and indebted to so many people. And in addition to the best staff, we have amazing loyal customers. And I don’t think you could get all of that today.

“We just hope that we’re always part of the community of St. Pete. However that community looks and grows and shifts and changes, we want to be part of the conversation, and be here for all generations of St. Pete.”

The bar. Photo: Harvey’s 4th Street Grill.

 

 

 

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4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Patrice

    April 3, 2024at11:53 am

    When I was an employee of PSCU in the 90s our Supervisor would take us to Harvey’s for any special occasion. Those fond memories still are a part of me even though I’m retired now.I hope others get a chance to enjoy Harvey’s as much as we did.

  2. Avatar

    Scott Simmons

    April 2, 2024at3:28 am

    This article really brings back memories. Hard to believe it has been 40 years! Harvey’s is the place I would pick for lunch if I ever return to Florida. Luckily I have found a seafood restaurant in San Miguel where friends meet every Wednesday. You are looking good Dan. Congratulations!

  3. Avatar

    Page Obenshain

    April 1, 2024at4:39 pm

    Congratulations to our good friends. Many good dinners cooked and served by the very best.

  4. Avatar

    Art Fyvolent

    April 1, 2024at4:02 pm

    We are a few of Harvey’s very loyal customers. Their food is always fresh, consistent and delivered fast. The staff has been there forever so you know what you’re getting every time.

    It’s our “go to” first choice every time.

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