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South St. Pete has a new ‘Catalyst’

Mark Parker



Elihu Brayboy, owner of Chief's Creole Cafe, has selected someone to reimagine the property in South St. Pete. Photo by Mark Parker.

Elihu Brayboy previously said he wanted young entrepreneurs – preferably with a culinary background – to reimagine the Chief’s Creole Café site and “take it to another level.”

He got his wish.

Brayboy, 74, abruptly closed the popular establishment April 7 as the daily grind of running a restaurant for 10 years took its toll. Chief’s Creole Cafe played a significant role in revitalizing the Deuces, and Brayboy wanted to ensure the new operators were also committed to helping the 22nd Street South corridor achieve some of its former glory.

Jason Bryant and his business partner, Jeffrey Copeland, are eager to carry the torch. They enlisted the help of Chris, Sheldon and Andrew Steele, owners of Sid’s Caribbean Grill.

“Jeff (Copeland) is a native as well, and we really want to bring back the Deuces like it was before,” Bryant said. “It’s not just about bringing people to our establishment, but all the surrounding area.

“The Deuces are back.”

The Steeles once operated a brick-and-mortar location on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg’s Grand Central District, and Chief’s Creole Café will transform into Sid’s at the Catalyst. The historic building, built in 1939, will also feature a speakeasy lounge – The Catalyst on the Deuces.

Bryant is a business consultant and founder of New Era Thinking. He is also a member of the Urban Collective, which opened a food hall and event space at the Manhattan Casino in 2021.

Last November, city officials chose not to renew the consortium’s lease, for several reasons. Bryant called the venture an emotional investment and said he planned to take some time away from the hospitality industry.

However, he has a “soft spot” for South St. Pete, and Copeland approached him with the idea after speaking with Brayboy. While Bryant initially declined Copeland’s pitch, Brayboy’s desire to relinquish the facility to “someone local who cares” resonated.

Jason Bryant plans to “enhance” the patio area at the former Chief’s Creole Cafe. Photo: Facebook.

Bryant believes that reimagining a successful restaurant is “a better deal” than trying to restore and attract people to the Manhattan Casino. Bryant also noted the intersection of 22nd Street South and 9th Avenue, known as the Deuces Corner, features more traffic.

He called the new venture a blessing and a continuation of his initial vision for the Manhattan Casino. Bryant said he is proud to participate in the Deuces renaissance after growing up hearing about its glory days.

“We’re really giving people on the southside somewhere to go,” Bryant added. “The Brayboys, obviously, vetted us to make sure we’re good. They’ve been extremely supportive of everything we’re trying to do.”

He has already contacted surrounding business owners and Terri Lipsey Scott, executive director of the adjacent Woodson African American Museum of Florida. Bryant envisions Sid’s and The Catalyst as an alternative to downtown St. Petersburg establishments, and the corridor again becoming a regional destination.

Bryant said his group is planning for the future and how to integrate and evolve alongside a myriad of projects coming to the Deuces.

“It feels good just to be a part of that because I used to always hear stories about what went on in the Deuces,” he added. “Ironically, the place where we are right now used to be a place called George Washington’s – I believe – and it was basically a speakeasy bar. So, we’re going to try to almost revive that, with a modern taste to it.”

Brayboy previously said there was “zero” chance of him selling the property unless someone “waves a check so big I get choked up.” Bryant said they have yet to discuss ownership, and that he would lease the building for the foreseeable future.

The two concepts will utilize the site’s vacant spaces, and Bryant noted the group is enhancing the patio. They are also improving interior aspects, and Bryant said he is applying lessons learned from the Manhattan Casino’s food hall.

Sid’s at the Catalyst will feature live music, poetry nights and art. Bryant said several local musicians have offered their services, and he is calling on connections made through previous ventures.

“Everything St. Pete is what you’ll see in there,” Bryant said. “We really want to make it a destination.”








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  1. Avatar

    Kari M

    May 18, 2023at3:16 pm

    This concept sounds interesting and I’m excited to see what they end up doing. It seems like it could be a cool new destination in the Deuces!

  2. Avatar

    Jay Poindexter

    May 18, 2023at3:39 pm

    Since moving to south St. Pete in this past year, I am looking forward to how this develops. It’s always good to eat, shop, and explore locally. South St. Pete was a source of all of that and is ready to rise again. Why not. 😎

  3. Avatar

    Amber Bennett

    May 18, 2023at3:41 pm

    I’m excited to go once its opened!

  4. Avatar

    Gina Marie

    May 18, 2023at4:52 pm

    Woohoo! I can’t wait! Jason, Jeff & team, Congrats! Excited you are all carrying on the torch. I will always and forever miss Creole Cafe and the personalized touch that made us all feel so welcomed, special and a part of, but excited for this new beginning ❤️ Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy continue to always be fun, cool and full of surprises! 😊. Best of luck to you gentlemen, it will surely be a hit!

  5. Avatar

    David Johnson

    May 18, 2023at8:10 pm

    Sounds awesome! Can’t wait to check it out once it’s open. Any idea when that will be?

  6. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    May 19, 2023at9:37 am

    We need some good food. That is all I ask nephew.

  7. Avatar

    Chrisshun Cox

    May 22, 2023at8:56 am

    There is already good food on 22nd Street all you have to do go there, and these restaurants have been there for some time now. You have Lorraine’s ( which has been there for many years, then you have Heavy’s which has been there for almost a year, and then across the way on 9th Avenue you have Juggler’s. So, there are already great soul food on 22nd Street, this would be an addition.

  8. Avatar

    Charlie Guy

    May 22, 2023at3:34 pm

    “Mr. B” & Carolyn Brayboy are continuing their long crusade to bring new life the 22nd St So corridor. 1st with the creation of The Deuces Live, Inc. (FL non-profit) & then selecting a very skilled executive director: Veatrice Farrell. She worked tirelessly with the City & the Warehouse Arts District Association in the creation of the very exciting WADA/Deuces Live Joint Action Plan & most recently now with our Southside Greenway’s biking & pedestrian rebranding efforts of the corridor as the Deuces Bikeway to maximize this targeted traffic from the Pinellas Trail Loop to Lake Maggiore Subtropical Ecosystem (Dell Holmes Park entrance). With Jason Bryant now developing continuing an African American dining experience at THE CORNER of the Deuces Live, the Brayboy’s will have even more time in developing their other long-term goal of creating new truly “attainable housing” opportunities for the neighborhood!
    Charlie Guy, President, Southside Greenway, Inc., FL non-profit

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