In a surprise announcement today, a Grand Central staple declared that its doors have been closed for good. Punky’s Bar & Grill, open since 2015 on the west end of the Grand Central District, served its last drink yesterday.
The owners shared the sad news in a post on facebook today, saying “Punky’s has been such a joy for so many people, but she is ready to retire… gracefully.”
Punky’s built a reputation not just on good eats and cold drinks, but on being a pillar of the LGBTQ+ community in St. Pete, providing a welcoming atmosphere for all, and doing some serious fundraising work along the way. Their patio became a favorite spot in a neighborhood that has grown tremendously in the years since Punky’s opened, and the announcement certainly comes as bittersweet news to many.
John and Lynn, the Punky’s proprietors, noted the $150,000+ raised for charity, as well as the incredible friendships made along the way, as highlights of Punky’s 2,423 days of operation.
“We worked hard, laughed a lot, and made a difference every chance we had,” the post said. “We have become a place of safety for the LGBTQ+ community, a melting pot for people from ALL walks of life…and their pets! We have celebrated victories, survived struggles, mourned losses and came together to help each other and the community.”
What will take over the Grand Central spot?
While the news is sudden, the note also said that ownership will be helping the now-former employees line up new jobs, while also sharing all of the kitchen’s remaining food with employees, as well. While we’re sad to see the cherished business shutter, we wish a happy retirement to the owners and hope for speedy transitions for the staff.
Of course, one of the big questions from the news went unanswered: what will be next for the building? Located at 3063 Central Avenue, it’s far enough from downtown to remain decidedly local, and still tied closely enough to the Grand Central action to be a desirable spot for a new business. A report from Patch quoted an employee as saying the place had been sold to someone with plans to open a sports bar, though property records at this time do not indicate a change in building ownership. Punky’s was operating under a lease.