City Selects Callaloo Group for Historic Manhattan Casino

UPDATE [8/18/17]: It appears the city has come to decision on the future of the Historic Manhattan Casino. Officials are expected to award Callaloo Group the project at a press conference later this afternoon.

The concept will add a chef-inspired restaurant called Callaloo, a full liquor bar called The Blue Note, and bring Pipo’s Café and catering to the area. In addition to culinary amenities, Callaloo Group also plans to exhibit art and host live concerts on a near nightly basis — further capitalizing on the event space on the second floor. A full proposal can be found on the city’s website.

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Ever since 22nd Street South lost Sylvia’s, residents have been clamoring to find out what would take its place. The city first received a proposal from the Callaloo Group in June. Upon receipt, the city noted that it would be open to alternative proposals through July 28. Now, four groups have offered up their vision for the historic space.

A tip of the hat to Coast Bike Share for first posting the proposals on its website and providing helpful links to each.

Aside from its historical significance, The Manhattan Casino also offers some alluring specs. The site is equipped with 70 parking spaces, along with a fully built out restaurant on the first floor of the main building, and nearly 6,000 SF of event space on the second floor.

Callaloo Group

The Callaloo Group consists of Ramon Hernandez, President, Vincent Jackson, Vice President, Gary Moran, Executive Chef, and Maria Farias, Director of Development. The group’s plan would transform the restaurant space into a chef-inspired concept called Callaloo. The full service restaurant and bar will be open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. Lunches will range from $8-10 and dinners from $12-$18.

A full liquor bar called The Blue Note will complement the restaurant concept. Joining Callaloo, adjacent to the kitchen, will be Pipo’s Cafe. Modeled after the family’s concept on 4th Street, Pipo’s will bring classic Cuban dishes in a fast, casual environment south of Central. The group will add a locally operated Pipo’s Café/CaIIaIoo food truck where the team’s responsibility will
include preparing an area through exposure prior to the placement of a brick and mortar Pipo’s Cafe.

Callaloo will use part of the space as a commissary to expand their catering operations. Should their proposal be accepted, the group anticipates investing nearly $400,000 into the space. The proposal also indicates the restaurant/event space will feature live music on a nightly basis, and exhibit local art.

Safrone Presley

Safrone Presley, a resident and business owner in St. Pete for over 20 years, and currently runs Saffron’s Catering. Presley proposes the City run The Manhattan Casino. The name will remain The Historic Manhattan Casino, the restaurant space will be scaled down by partitioning off the restaurant space to allow for retail space to rent to small local business, keeping in line with the original intention of The Manhattan Casino, which was to be an Entertainment Facility, Cultural and Social Entertainment location.

This new direction and vision will make The Manhattan Casino the anchor of the CRA development. Presley would serve as the Director of The Manhattan Casino and oversee the daily operation of the facility.

Dazzio Art

Dazzio Art Society proposes a joint venture between the City of St. Pete and their nonprofit organization. The partnership would add a vibrant jazz-themed restaurant, an art supply store, an art exhibition from Dazzio’s Holocaust exhibit, and workshop/exhibit space for teacher and student work.

The art society teaches 100-200 people per week. Manhattan Casino’s upstairs will be used for literary and music events.

Manhattan Casino Legacy Collaborative

The Manhattan Legacy Collaborative has already received full support from Mark Aeling, Board President of the Warehouse Arts District and the Deuces Live Main Street Board of Directors. The Collaborative’s concept includes a Jordan Hall Music Series: weekly small ensemble musical offerings from jazz, blues, R&B, reggae and hip-hop genres coupled with monthly scheduled concerts.

The space will be reactivated with weekly dance classes and events. The Manhattan Casino will also host professional certified lecturers who will present practical programs designed to empower our community to live a healthy, enriching, and productive life. Of course, the Jordan Hall event space will also be available for rent with a catering option available.

A key component of the Manhattan Casino music education initiative will be concerts presented featuring professional musicians in performance “side by side” with aspiring young musicians as a part of the Collaborative’s Artists Mentoring program. Movies at the Manhattan Casino will be a series of historical African-American films featuring many of the artists who performed at the Manhattan Casino.

The culinary experience will feature six distinct concepts within the Manhattan Casino:

  • Hattie B’s Kitchen — Soul food restaurant featuring the best Southern and soul food chefs from around the country.
  • Sno-Peak — Late night cafe featuring soft-serve ice cream, grilled burgers, fried gizzards, smoked turkey and sausage sandwiches.
  • Champagne’s Piano Bar — Live music spot in a more intimate setting. The space will offer craft cocktails inspired by the Champagne Lounge and other lounges of the Deuce’s past.
  • Hot House — Serve guests at private banquets, weddings, dinner dances and performances upstairs.
  • Geech’s BBQ — Historically significant Deuces BBQ featuring slow-smoked meats and fish prepared traditionally over hard woods. It will cater to-go orders and smoked ribs, pork shoulder, house made sausage, turkey trout and mullet.
  • Kookies-N-Kream — Outdoor cafe facing 22nd Street South. It will be a place for coffee, espresso, morning meetings and sweet Southern desserts.

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Written by Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan

Andrew Harlan is the Editor of Follow him on Twitter @harlanyoungII and Instagram @harlanyoung. Send tips and potential stories to