Sōl Bistro is bringing a scratch-made menu of “elevated comfort food” to St. Petersburg and you can help finance it.
The restaurant, which focuses on accommodating special diets and specializes in “gluten-free, lactose intolerant friendly, peanut-free, soy-free, and refined sugar-free” food, was announced in July. It will take over the space previously occupied by WEPA Cocina de Puerto Rico. In August, Owners Debbie Devico-O’Neil and Ron O’Neil decided to raise funds through the crowdfunding site, Mainvest. Mainvest allows anyone in the community to invest in small businesses of their choosing, and companies agree, rather than paying interest, to share revenue with investors until an agreed-upon return is reached.
While many people may want to invest in their community, having the money to do so can be an insurmountable obstacle. Through Mainvest, potential investors can participate with as little as $100. Although rates vary from business to business, a $100 investment in Sōl will net $150 by December 2025. Investments of up to $10,000 are accepted, which would then yield a $15,000 return. Businesses can also repay the amount owed sooner than what is listed, and Sōl’s maturity date was originally Jan. 1, 2026. To date, 13 people from St. Pete to Arizona have invested $15,200. The maximum round size is $25,000, and the restaurant will stop accepting investments once that number is reached.
Debbie DeVico-O’Neil told the Catalyst that Mainvest found them and reached out with the proposition to join their crowdfunding platform, just as the owners were looking into potential investors to help get their concept up and running.
“It was actually divine timing,” said DeVico-O’Neil. “They came along and explained their whole deal to us, and it just made sense. It was amazing, and they’re just awesome.”
The $25,000 raised will go towards installing the new concept into the existing restaurant space. “We’re making it look super cool and changing the whole vibe, said DeVico-O’Neil. Funds will also be used for specialty equipment and supplies, and Devico-O’Neil is creating an outdoor garden oasis. She said that she and her husband went into the crowdfunding process with cautious optimism because they have never done anything like that before and were not sure what to expect.
“So, I’ve been very happy at how quickly we’ve been raising money – it’s been going very well,” she said.
DeVico-O’Neil said that they are planning on opening the first week of October. There have been some delays with supply-chain disruptions, and DeVico-O’Neil said they understand that these things take time. Instead of rushing things, she said, “we’re settling in with ease and grace and just going with the flow.”
DeVico-O’Neil added that when people invest in their business, they are also investing in other small businesses and local farms. Sōl will feature locally sourced produce, herbs, and craft beers. Nothing on the menu will be processed or artificial and is always non-GMO or organic when available. There will also feature many grain-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. DeVico-O’Neil said people with food allergies will now have a safe haven and not need to worry about being accidentally contaminated, although the menu will be for “all who want to eat the delicious foods they love without uncomfortable side effects.”
“We’re just really excited to be bringing this unique concept to the community, and I couldn’t think of a better community to do it in,” said DeVico-O’Neil.