The Lure Ono adds gooey, cheesy melts to St. Pete’s Central Avenue

one hand holds melty gooey grilled cheese sandwiches stacked together

The Lure Ono recently opened on Central Avenue’s 600-block with a simple goal: to make good grilled cheeses. 

Now, as a grilled cheese fiend, that mission alone was enough to get me into the restaurant—but I’m a picky cheeseaholic. In order to get my A-plus, stamp-of-approval, a sandwich needs to be next level. Like 5-star-yelp-review-Instagram-shoutout level. 

Luckily for me (and the rest of St. Pete’s humans), The Lure Ono hits that mark. In fact, this hole-in-the-wall style newcomer is transforming cheese, bread, and butter into some of the tastiest sandwiches from the Edge to Beach Drive. 

So, if you’re also a fan of toasty bread and gooey cheese-pulls, read on. 

And if you’re not—you’re lying.

A grilled cheese sandwich cut into four squares

St. Pete’s newest melt shop

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tom Golden, owner and operator of elevated bar and grill, The Lure, found his flagship restaurant overwhelmed with the sudden influx of to-go orders. “I originally bought this place to use as a ghost kitchen for the Lure,” he shares in regards to Ono, “It was just meant to help my guys with their takeout and delivery sushi orders.”

Hold up— sushi? So where, I asked, did the grilled cheese thing come from? Tom elaborated. After the closing of Central Melt, the 600s block had a melted sandwich void to fill and the perfect space to do it. Seizing the opportunity to satisfy the market, he enlisted the help of veteran Central Melt chef, and close friend, Tarina Abraham to design a menu that would combine the best of both restaurants. The result: a top-notch selection of grilled-cheeses to order, with a to-go case full of fresh sushi and prepared meals.

So, essentially, Ono is a grilled cheese restaurant with a corner fridge full of sushi. It’s pretty much the epitome of the St. Pete’s millennial. To-go case aside, however, let’s get back to those glorious, in-house grilled cheeses.

the interior bar of The Lure Ono

Here are some of my favorites, and what makes them so great:

  • The Krabby Paddie – Sticking with the idea of grilled cheese/fish fusion, this sourdough sandwich comes stuffed to the crust with cheddar, pepper jack, and a Maryland style crab cake.
  • The Green Jeans – On the avocado toast bandwagon? Then this is the grilled cheese is for you. Also on crisp sourdough bread, the Green Jeans layers nature’s favorite green fruit (yes, I’m on that side of the debate) between sliced provolone and smoky bacon.
  • The Ed – A fan favorite from the Central Melt menu, and an ode to its former owner, this sandwich is a pizza-reminiscent melt of mozzarella and pepperoni. The bread choice is up to you, but they have garlic toast… so that should make the decision easy.
  • The Rich Ono – In Hawaiian, “Ono” means delicious, and this grilled cheese is just that. Filled with 3-day, slow-marinated pineapple pulled pork between a creamy combination of muenster and pepper jack, this tropical style treat is a chef’s specialty, and was definitely my favorite on the menu.

The Takeaway

According to Tom, the best thing about Ono is its commitment to making good, simple food. To Tarina, it’s the warm, friendly comradery. Sitting behind the wooden counter, golden-brown sandwich in my mouth, I watched as the two bantered playfully. They’re both right.

Diners can visit The Lure Ono at 685 Central Ave, St. Petersburg, or find them on Facebook.

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Kara VanDooijeweert is a current journalism student at Rutgers University. If you can't find her in the Bay's best restaurants, she's probably off exploring the wilderness. Catch her on Instagram, @karanicolev.