Three Birds Tavern is one of the most celebrated restaurants in St. Pete. Just one taste of the oh so sweet potato fries tossed in sea salt, honey cinnamon-bourbon butter and you can taste why Three Birds is so beloved. Robin and Jack King, owners of Three Birds Tavern in St. Petersburg for more than twelve years, are retiring and passing the nest along to local hospitality professionals John and Haley Ruetz.
We will miss the gregarious, charismatic, and assiduous Kings, but we are delighted they’re ready to take this well deserved step back. It’s encouraging to see a new pair of local entrepreneurs take up the mantle of this 4th Street gem.
Let’s hope the Bread Pudding for Breakfast stays on the brunch menu because it is our favorite way to wake up on a Sunday — especially on the outdoor patio.
Three Birds Tavern restored a 140-year-old building
Truly, Three Birds offers the best shaded outdoor dining in the Sunshine City.
When the Kings moved to St. Petersburg in 2009 and bought the 140-year-old former farmhouse at 1492 Fourth Street North, their goal was to create a family-friendly neighborhood restaurant with fresh food, refreshing drinks, a welcoming environment for all and a strong sense of community.
The Kings restored the building and expanded the outdoor patios, all while preserving its old charm and beautiful towering oak trees. The space is brimming with local history, and maybe a casual haunt or two.
In 2015, their efforts to restore the building were recognized with a city beautification award.
Robin and Jack share the belief that community always comes first. They are active advocates of the buy local movement and Robin often mentors emerging female entrepreneurs. Both focus on supporting local artists, local nonprofits and fellow local business owners in all industries.
Robin and Jack King join the Buy Local Movement
In 2014, Robin started a second business, Out of the Weeds artisan sauces and, just two years later, was named Tampa Bay Business Woman of the Year in Hospitality. The restaurant has received numerous awards over the years, such as Best New Business, several ADDY Awards for logo design, branding and website, Most Community-Minded Business, Best Established Business, as well as many food awards, including TBBJ Best Dish in the Biz.
“When we bought the building in 2009, Jack told me we would give this a 10-year run after his first retirement from a successful litigation career in Ohio, so I knew in 2019 our time was winding down,” Robin said. But the Kings decided they would continue to operate Three Birds Tavern until the perfect buyers came along.
The problem, she shared, was that while many offers had been made for the building since a developer first approached them in 2015, all of them had plans to tear the building down.
“That isn’t what we wanted for this little piece of St. Pete history,” Robin said.
Two St. Pete locals take over the storied restaurant
John and Haley, both born and raised here in the ‘Burg, are dedicated to preserving the property and making the restaurant even better. John owns and operates The Annex on Beach Drive and prior to that managed 400 Beach Seafood and Tap House and Cafe Gala at the Dali Museum. He and Haley just welcomed their second child.
“We are excited to carry on the tradition of Three Birds Tavern with our growing family (two future busboys) and be an active part in the community in which we live and love,” John said.
Robin and Jack are grateful to the hundreds of team members who worked tirelessly over the years, and especially through this pandemic. Robin and Jack are enormously grateful to the thousands of guests who supported the restaurant, making 12 years of continued growth possible, and wish John and Haley much success.
The Kings are ready to enjoy retirement
In the future, you will find the Kings splitting their time between the beaches of Florida, the mountains of North Carolina and traveling the country to visit their adult children. They especially look forward to spending more time with their 3-year-old granddaughter and new grandson.
Congrats, Robin and Jack. You both deserve it!
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