One of the most haunted and historic buildings in all of Pinellas County is decked out in appropriate style this Halloween season. Sesh restaurant and brewery, housed in the haunted Earl Gresh Cottage, is already a new star for its tasty eats, fantastic beers and delightful cocktails. In perfect form for the season, Sesh is now fully decorated in spooky attire and dishing up tantalizing eats and drinks in honor of Halloween in its home at 2221 4th Street North.
From candy corn and jalapeno-glazed wings to the “Vampire Kisses” cocktail that would make even Dracula drool, Chef Tyson Williams and his crew have come up with some incredible creations for the holiday, and we got our first taste this week. Spoiler: those wings soaked in a glaze of candy corn and jalapenos are an immediate star (the perfect balance of sweetness with a soft kick).
Meanwhile, the entire facility is bedecked in ghoulish vibes, from mermaid skeletons and a full graveyard to messages in the mirrors and tarantulas crawling under seats. The theme is of course appropriate, as legend has it the building itself is quite haunted, regularly attracting ghost hunters and paranormal enthusiasts, including a visit from Spirits of St. Petersburg that discovered more than a few unseen residents.
The entire concept has leaned into its history, with its appetizer list dubbed “APParitions,” and cocktails such as the Evil Eye, Ectoplasm, and Ghosted. Award-winning head brewer Alex Garcia has also crafted an amazing lineup of Halloween beers, including The Monster Mash (a peanut butter cup imperial stout), Harvest Moon (a pumpkin spice blonde ale), and the mouth-puckering Death By Rainbow (a Skittles sour).
In other creepy concoctions from the bar, the Nightmare on 4th Street comes with a “bleeding” sugar rim, while the glittery Hocus Pocus swirls with magic and mystery. The aforementioned Vampire Kisses comes with a “strawberry blood” rim complete with bleeding vampire teeth, giving the full Halloween effect.
To encourage full Halloween fun, Sesh is actually hosting a surprisingly gigantic giveaway for those who arrive in costume. Their “professionally amateur” judges will be giving out three prizes for the best costumes this Halloween season. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place receive $1,000, $500, and $250 in cash, respectively. The staff is allowed to participate, too, so be prepared for competition on the other side of the bar.
Sesh was a dream years in the making
After literal years of anticipation (we’ve been tracking this one since 2021), Sesh St. Pete finally opened its doors to the public this summer, debuting its restaurant, bar and brewery at 2221 4th Street North. The incredible new space is a joint project from the creative and culinary minds behind the popular beach brewery Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company.
While the building was most recently The Melting Pot, historically, the Earl Gresh Cottage was one of the city’s original roadside attractions. The Sesh team has painstakingly restored the historic portions of the two buildings, while also going all in on artistic nods to the decades of stories asserting that the building is haunted.
As for the food and drink, the deep menu offers something for everybody, with all the creativity and attention to detail that Chef Tyson Williams has become known for at Mad Beach Brewing’s popular restaurant. There are well-prepared pub standards such as gigantic nacho plates, chicken wings, grouper sandwiches, baby rack ribs, and build-your-own smash burgers.
And then the creativity comes in with the jelly donut burger (Angus Ground Chuck burger with raspberry jam, crispy bacon and two slices of sharp cheddar sandwiched between two glazed donuts, garnished with powdered sugar), Sesh Oysters (oven baked Virginia oysters with with bacon-and-pesto-stuffed blue crab, topped with gluten-free bread crumbs and parmesan), and perhaps the tastiest and most tender alligator po-boys we’ve ever had, served on La Segunda Cuban bread.
The full menu includes a wide variety of appetizers (punnily titled APParitions), salads, chilled starters such as oysters, steak tartare and scallop ceviche, build-your-own bowls, fresh catch fish dishes, steak, desserts and even a kids menu. While we loved everything we tried, we did get a bit of order envy when we saw the decadent scallop and bacon mac-n-cheese come out to another table. Sunday Brunch is also available weekly.
Of course, the food is only half the allure at Sesh. Head brewer Alex Garcia and the brewing team behind Mad Beach’s award-winning beers have set up a tremendous and modern brew house in the back of the cottage, creating a tap list of two dozen craft beers of all types and tastes.
Meanwhile, Sesh also has a full liquor bar, and the cocktail list is unlike anything we’ve seen, including “The Evil Eye” which comes with a floating lychee eyeball. The ghostly theme continues here, as well, with cocktails such as “The Haunting,” “Ectoplasm,” “Banshee” and “Ghosted.” The bar also offers house and seasonal sangria, and a lengthy wine list.
One of St. Pete’s most ‘haunted’ buildings honors its roots
The team behind Sesh (owners of Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company) has wanted to open a St. Pete concept for years, so when the historic building in a prime location became available, they jumped on their chance. In fact, several businesses jumped at the chance, but the city balked at the plans of some to tear down the old museum and roadside attraction designed to look like an English cottage.
In a deal brokered by Steve Coderre of Coderre Real Estate and Development, Sesh bought the property with plans to not only keep the building intact, but to make its history a central feature of the new brewery and restaurant.
Chief among the historic touches is the massive brick chimney built into the wall of the main dining room, which Sesh uncovered and now showcases after it had been paneled over by previous ownership. The chimney itself was built in the 1930s with bricks from Fort Dade, the ruined military fort built on Egmont Key during the Spanish-American War.
Owner Matt Powers also brought a gigantic and supposedly haunted old mirror from the back room into the main bar. Staff members of the various businesses housed in the building over the decades have sworn to mystery handprints appearing on the glass after they would walk away from the mirror. In fact, a local group of ghost hunters even made the trek to see the mirror and the cottage for themselves, claiming they found a few energies in the building, but that “they were all quite friendly.”
As part of their plans to restore the building’s grandeur, Sesh also has an indoor/outdoor bar facing 4th Street with an expanded patio and beer garden wrapping around behind the chimney in the open outdoor area of the U-shaped structure. The back half of the building was the original structure housing Earl Gresh’s wood museum, before being expanded shortly after to the massive “cottage” now standing on the property.
“We want to pay our respect to the history of the building, while adding our own touch of color,” Powers said. “We love the property. You walk in the door and it just looks like a pub.”
The name Sesh comes from the annual 420 Sesh party at Mad Beach, a celebration of all things tasty and fun. The event has inspired a number of past creations, including the introduction of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos crusted cheese sticks.
Ultimately, Powers said, it’s all about having great food and drink with friends and family. Put simply, he hopes that Sesh will give St. Pete a place they can be surrounded by history, while enjoying themselves in the present.
“A ‘sesh’ is just defined as a period of time spent enjoying an activity with friends,” Powers explained.
St. Pete can now experience plenty such instances.