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Live music returns, conditionally, to the Hideaway Café

Bill DeYoung



The Hideaway Cafe is considered by many the most acoustically perfect room in St. Petersburg. Photo provided.

At the Hideaway Café, “business as usual” is live music, with a kitchen and a bar. Pretty much in that order (well, with some people the bar will always come first, and that’s just the way it is).

Of course, there hasn’t been any “as usual,” for any public business, for a couple of months. But Hideaway owner John Kelly is making inroads towards giving his customers what they’ve come to appreciate about the Central Avenue stalwart.

Since the governor’s order came down giving restaurants permission to re-open at half-capacity, with proper distancing, Kelly has been serving again.

Next, inevitably, came the return of live music. The Hideaway has one of the best sound systems in St. Petersburg, and musicians love to perform on its intimate, cozy stage with the red velvet backdrop.

Pulley and Pastore

Saturday, Hideaway favorites Rebekah Pulley and Rob Pastore will play the Hideaway, for an audience that won’t – because it can’t – top a capacity of 36. It’s the fourth edition of the #HideawayAtHome Limited Live + series.

“I was able to entertain the idea of opening when we did because we have a food license and operate like a restaurant, in that regard,” Kelly explains. “And, yes, I had to contact the mayor’s office directly to get a full understanding of what we were able do.

“We weren’t ready to invite anyone back in without taking every necessary precaution and doing all we could to ensure social distancing, and to operate as contactless as possible.”

Which means, of course, extra space. Breathing room. Each “exclusive semi-private all-inclusive show, complete with Nibbles and Sips” is for a total of 12 tables, spaced accordingly, with seating for between two and four people at each.

All information and reservations are here.

All three previous shows – including the performance by Kid Royal Blues Wednesday night – have done well, Kelly says. “They’ve all been successful and very needed on all fronts … for our business, for our original-music-loving audience and, of course, for the artists and staff.”

Still, he adds, “We’re still taking every necessary precaution. We’re not ready to be at half capacity, which would be 50, just yet.”

With live music MIA since mid-March, more venues will doubtless be coming back, in some version of limited capacity, as the weeks grind. Ruth Eckerd Hall, in fact, just announced a series of socially-distanced acoustic shows, in the lobby, by area rock legend Greg Billings (details here).

For John Kelly and the Hideaway Café, stepping into the great wide open is a one-foot-at-a-time situation. There’s still a veil over the future. “To say I’m worried is an understatement,” Kelly says. “I don’t think things will be anything like they were before – not any time soon anyway – and we’re happy to reinvent ourselves and see what opportunities we can turn over in this new norm. We’re going to need to continue to adapt like so many small businesses are doing.

“Yes, music is what we do… while there is much uncertainty, we’re hard at it and will continue to do our best to be a home for musicians and artists for years to come.”

Hideaway website




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