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New upscale golf simulation concept to debut in downtown

Veronica Brezina

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GolfSuites signage at 123 4th St. South in downtown St. Pete. Image provided.

The historic St. Petersburg Tramor Cafeteria building will become a high-end golf simulation complex.  

Brandon-based GolfSuites Inc. has inked a 20-year lease to open the first and flagship GolfSuites City Club inside the 17,297-square-foot building at 123 4th St. S., a space the former Hofbräuhaus German restaurant occupied until recently. 

“We are going to do our best to melt the old with new, marrying the high-tech look of the simulators while preserving the historic look of the building,” Jerry Ellenburg, Chairman and CEO of GolfSuites Inc., told the Catalyst. “We are like a micro-version of Topgolf with our open-air driving ranges, but we are going to bring what could be the largest fine dining restaurant in St. Pete with 350 seats.”

Ellenburg, who resides in Pinellas County, said one executive lives in Brandon – and Board Director Kevin Harrington, one of the original investors from TV’s Shark Tank, has a home in St. Pete. Harrington is also the Brand Ambassador for the GolfSuites City Club brand nationwide.

“I don’t know how hard I would’ve jumped to be involved in this project if it was going to be somewhere in Denver, Colorado, or Nashville, Tennessee,” Ellenburg said. “From Tropicana Field to downtown, St. Pete is jammed with residential projects like 400 Central and a large business and professional crowd who could join our limited membership base.” 

The GolfSuites City Club will be partially membership-based and will offer eight Golfzon indoor simulators that virtually recreate different championship-level courses.

A Golfzon simulator. Facebook image.

Ellenburg said the team is working with Clearwater-based architect Robert P. Resch III on the design. The team will pump at least $3 million into converting the space, which will debut in summer 2024. 

GolfSuites currently has its traditional open-air golf facilities in Tulsa, Baton Rouge and Lubbock, Texas. 

Ellenburg said the company recently broke ground on an open-air GolfSuites project in Opelika, Alabama, and is under contract to open a fifth one in Birmingham. The company owns a sixth site in Jackson, Mississippi, which will be developed into a GolfSuites Lounge concept.  

The GolfSuites Lounge product has a more “relaxed” environment, Ellenburg said. 

The traditional concept with the open-air driving ranges. Image provided. 

“GolfSuites Lounge is what you’d find in suburban areas with casual dining – pizzas, burgers and tacos. For the City Club concept, we are talking about a different fine dining experience.

GolfSuites will provide guided golfing lessons. Famed local instructor David Leadbetter will spearhead the program. 

Scott McCurry, president and COO of GolfSuites, will help oversee the culinary side and other operations. McCurry previously worked as the national director of operations at Topgolf and was a C-suite level executive at the Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurant franchise.

Ellenburg, Harrington and McCurry toured the property several times over the past six months with landowner Nuri Erol, who purchased the building in a $7.1 million deal in 2021. 

“I bought the property because I planned on creating a food hall. However, after selling my Wiseguy Pizza stores, I realized I didn’t want to invest millions of dollars, work nonstop like I was doing and manage 10 different restaurants,” Erol said. 

St. Pete real estate agent Christina Walker of Realty One Group Sunshine facilitated the new lease transaction, which was executed earlier this month. 

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    Ryan Clark

    October 2, 2023at6:44 pm

    Well this is what a St.Pete downtown for the rich looks like. Not only condos and apartments only they can afford, but also activities that cater to the wealthy too. Welcome to Brickell, I mean, DTSP in 10 years.

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