‘Burg Built: How Social Roost elevates the downtown dining scene

‘Burg Built: How Social Roost elevates the downtown dining scene

Social Roost is one of the newest, and most celebrated restaurants in downtown St. Pete. The glistening foodie concept debuted in 2020 with a menu that reinvigorates classic poultry-based dishes. Locally-grown and locally-owned, Social Roost is brainchild of Rob Bowen and Jason Teabout.

Both Bowen and Teabout were born and raised right here in the Sunshine City. The couple have seen St. Pete evolve over the decades and have now carved out a special place for themselves in the ‘Burg’s burgeoning culinary scene.

How do you build one of the best restaurants off of Beach Drive? It begins and ends with meticulous vision, and assembling a team that shares your passion for this city, and for food. Joining Rob and Jason are Chef Susan Burdian and Bar Manager-turned-General Manager Max Blowers.

We sent over some questions to the Bowen and Teabout to not only learn about their business, but to get to know the owners better too.

Feast first with your eyes, St. Pete. The dishes here are sure to be as Instagram-friendly as they are palate pleasing. 

Bowen’s extensive background in interior design will ensure that the Sunshine City’s new local hub is as beauteous as the dishes. 

Fried chicken and waffles on a large black plate
Chicken & Waffles with Maple Bacon Butter | Photo by Ysanne Taylor

What’s your favorite way to unwind in St. Pete?

Anything outdoors. We love outdoor workouts at North Shore Park, bike rides throughout downtown St. Pete and Snell Isle, and relaxing at Sunset Beach. 

Is there a local event you most look forward to every year? 

Because we love exercise and enjoy being philanthropic, the event we most look forward to every year is the Celma Mastry Ovarian Cancer Foundation One Step Closer to a Cure run.  They offer a one mile walk for survivors, a 5k run and a 10k run.  It is a great event held annually at Airport Park in downtown St. Pete. 

a half chicken covered in spices placed with rice and beans
Peruvian Chicken with Sweet Plantains, Rice, Beans, and Citrus Pico | Photo by Ysanne Taylor

When did you know you wanted to open your own restaurant?

Jason grew up in restaurants since the age of 13 and subsequently served 23 years in the US Army, during which the first part of his Army career he worked in restaurants. I was floating around in the Mediterranean in 2018, Jason was retiring and since we both had a passion for food, community and entertaining , we decided we would bring all of the international dishes we have experienced throughout our world travels back to the community in which we both grew up in a space we designed for our friends, family, and community.

Can you describe what it was like preparing to open amidst a pandemic? And how does it feel now that we can safely gather again?

We actually started construction pre-COVID.  We took Social Roost on as a dirt floor and two concrete walls. We started to build the space out and the pandemic hit.  With Rob’s strong work ethic as owner of Rob Bowen Design Group and Jason’s military background- there was no option for failure.  Persistence and teamwork was key.  We have always told each other that together, we can accomplish anything- and we did!  We could not be any more ecstatic about our team, the space, the food, and the drinks!  All of the hard work and perseverance paid off. 

mussels and large portions of bread on a plate covered in yellow curry sauce
Curry Mussels | Photo by Ysanne Taylor

How has St. Pete changed over the years? You have a real unique perspective since you both have really intimately known this city from the time you were born. 

When we were growing up, there really was no true core to downtown St. Pete.  We remember coming downtown to visit the Pier and leaving.  To see the city develop through the years has been refreshing.  We love St. Pete, we call it our little big city.  With the growth, St. Pete can sometimes have a big city vibe, but it is still a comfortable city to live and work in without all of the major congestion of a big city. 

Social Roost is known for its play on poultry, but what dish do you recommend beyond the bird? 

For Jason it is the SHORTRIB!  It literally melts in your mouth. Rob’s favorite is the ahi tuna Poke and the Curry Mussels! Chef Susan has done a fantastic job all around with the menu, it is all amazing, but we definitely have our favorites!

You’ve handpicked two fantastic people to head up your bar, and kitchen programs. What qualities do they possess that make them a perfect fit for your vision of Social Roost?

We could not have selected a better team. It was kismet. Chef Susan worked at a restaurant we used to frequent in NYC, Max was recommended by a friend of Chef Susan’s and it turns out Max’s family grew up with Rob’s family. They are both pretty amazing individuals. 

What would you like St. Pete diners to know about your General Manager and your Executive Chef? 

Chef is a New York native and brings a unique flair to Social Roost.  It was super fun collaborating with her in our kitchen as she presented dish after dish.  Every single thing she prepared was a home run. Chef Susan is really talented and not only is she a creative genius in the kitchen, she effortlessly orchestrates the kitchen crew during the busiest of times. What our guests should know about Chef Susan is that she has a vast array of experience from casual to fine dining.

She is formally trained with emphasis on whole foods, vegan, vegetarian, and organic foods. Chef has also cooked for Anthony Bourdain and was hand selected to cook for the James Beard Foundation.

Max was born and raised in St. Pete and moved to NYC for 16 years.  During the pandemic and about two months before Social Roost opened, we found Max though Instagram and Chef’s recommendation as they had mutual friends in NYC. Max’s creativity behind the bar is equal to that of Chef’s in the kitchen.

Max started as our Bar Manager and is now our General Manager. He had his work cut out for him because we provide him with names of cocktails and had him make a cocktail based on the names. 

Usually the cocktail comes before the name.  Rob and I are tequila fans and the moment Max made the Goddess for us, we knew he was the one!  It was literally the best cocktail we have ever had in our lives and our guests echo that same sentiment routinely.  Max is the glue that holds the family together at Social Roost and we are very proud to call him our GM. 

Assortment of red and white wine in tall glasses on a marble bar

What’s your personal favorite dish at Social Roost, and your favorite cocktail?

Jason’s personal favorite dish is the Chicken Parmesan. Chef Susan has Italian roots and the Chicken Parm is a family recipe that Chef was so generous to share with us. 

Rob’s favorite dish is the tagine. It is unique and it is one of the first dishes Chef made for us. It also reminiscent of our travels and feels good!

What local small businesses (artists/retailers/a barbershop) do you personally love and would recommend. 

We love all of our local small business owners and are thankful to be a part of that group with two small businesses of our own.  We recommend the Shave Cave, Art Fusion Gallery, The Rock Chiropractic Clinic, and our friends over at Jackie Z. 

What’s the best deal at Social Roost right now that folks need to know about?

We always have something fun up our sleeve at Social Roost! Right now the best deal is Wine Wednesdays, where we offer half off select bottles of wine and our daily happy hour, which we call Social Hour, where you can find $10 appetizers, $7 red, white, bubbles, and wells and $3 Corona and Bud Light bottles.

Follow Social Roost on Facebook and Instagram for updates on new menu items, happy hour specials, and events.

150 1st Avenue North

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