Dr. BBQ launches Burnt Ends Tiki Bar; an exotic, “not-so-secret” speakeasy

Dr. BBQ launches Burnt Ends Tiki Bar; an exotic, “not-so-secret” speakeasy

Man standing in front of a painting of himself holding a tiki cup

Burnt Ends Tiki Bar joins Dr. BBQ in the EDGE District of St. Petersburg at 1101 1st Avenue South

Deep in the corner of the EDGE’s iconic Dr. BBQ, a black, metal staircase ascends to an out-of-sight destination. Most guests’ conscious would likely filter out these unassuming steps, deeming them an old fire escape or pathway to a storage unit. A lucky few, however, might feel an unexplained tug towards the mysterious staircase. Should they choose to entertain their curiosity, these adventure seekers would not discover an empty hall of closets, but rather Burnt Ends Tiki Bar; the second floor’s best kept secret.

For over 10 years, Datz Restaurant Group’s beverage director, Dean Hurst, has been a Tiki aficionado. In his case, though, the phrase “Tiki” doesn’t refer simply to the “carved heads on Easter Island,” but rather alludes to an entire post-modern movement of individuals. To its followers, Tiki is a lifestyle of exotic music, art, and mysticism. It is a culture fascinated with escape.

“I’ve always wanted to open a concept like this,” Dean shared, running his eyes down the bar’s vibrant cocktail menu. “I’ve been planning these drinks for years. I kept them all in a PDF.”

spam sliders on a plate
Spam Sliders | Photo by Kara VanDooijeweert

Bringing “classic” tiki to St. Pete

Despite his longtime passion for tiki—and determination to bring its classical form to downtown St. Pete—Dean’s aspirations spent years on the down low. With a young daughter to raise, and the recent pandemic delivering a heavy blow to the restaurant industry, the timing for such a project had never felt right. 10 weeks ago, though, things changed.

“Suzanne and Roger (the powerhouse couple behind Datz Restaurant group) also always wanted a tiki bar. And they knew they wanted to do something new with Dr. BBQ.”

Combine those two motives with an empty second floor bar space, and the tiki bar timing suddenly became opportune. In less than 3 months, Burnt Ends Tiki Bar was born, with the physical build-out being completed in a remarkable nine days. Today, you can find Dean himself at the hidden spot each night, finally serving his long-planned cocktails.

A hidden, second-floor secret

Now, you’ve probably caught on to my use of words like “hidden,” so allow me to explain. 

When Suzanne and Roger approached Ray Lampe—AKA Dr. BBQ—about adding a tiki bar to his restaurant, they cited the legendary Chicago speakeasy, Three Dots and a Dash, as the concept inspiration. Similar to this midwestern landmark, the couple wanted their conceptual bar to be somewhat secretive, thus invoking a sense of mystery and excitement amongst guests. As a Chicago native well-acquainted with the spot, Ray agreed. 

With the space secured and drinks planned, all that was missing from the speakeasy was an island-reminiscent menu of late night snacks. Luckily, Burnt Ends’ location above Dr. BBQ gave it easy access to a massive kitchen, high-quality ingredients, and a knowledgeable staff. Despite their close proximity, however, the team wanted the two restaurants to offer exclusive menus, even if the hands cooking them would be the same. There is one exception to this rule, though—Ray’s famous “Sticky Ribs”—which are available (and necessary) on either floor.

cocktail glass with garnishments
Photo by Kara VanDooijeweert

Sticky ribs, coconut shrimp, and island punch

Fast forward to today, and the current menu boasts exotic classics such as kimchi spam sliders, bao buns, and conch fritters. In addition, Ray is in the process of designing a special, tropical barbecue sauce specifically for Burnt Ends. He plans to release it within the month, along with a finalized, expanded menu.

Despite offering some fun bites, however, Burnt Ends true glory lies within Dean’s delicious drinks. With two decades of beverage experience, this seasoned mixologist has masterfully designed fruity cocktails capable of transporting St. Pete locals to the heart of the Caribbean. The pineapple “Planter’s Punch,” for example, will “put you on Island time,” while Dean’s favorite—the “Jet Pilot”—is a “one way trip to paradise.” 

Oh, and if you’re in the niche that prefers to drink out of mugs shaped as Ray Lampe’s head, order the “Navy Grog.”

Leaving the ordinary behind

Relaxing beneath a warm fire lamp after an evening of snacks and drinks, I began to let my gaze drift through the mysterious space. Dean, who sat across from me, did the same.

“At the end of the day,” he said, eyes wandering down the bar, “Tiki is all about escape. People want to get out of their daily lives and go somewhere exotic. That’s exactly what we’re trying to bring to St. Pete.”

Burnt Ends Tiki Bar is located on the second floor of Dr. BBQ at 1101 1st Ave S. For more information on the concept, prospective guests can visit the bar’s official website, https://burntendstikibar.com/, or follow them on Instagram: @burntendstikibar.

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