Zoie’s bar and southern restaurant now open in Grand Central

Zoie’s bar and southern restaurant now open in Grand Central

The exterior of Zoie's
Photo courtesy Zoie's

One of St. Pete’s most highly-anticipated restaurants has finally opened its doors, welcoming locals in for food, drink and fun all day and night, beginning today, November 11. Zoie’s, described on its website as “a place for everyone,” is located at 2245 Central Avenue and showcases southern comfort food alongside a full bar and live entertainment.

Owner Jeff Baker said his dream for Zoie’s – named for his lovable chihuahua – is to create a welcoming and warm atmosphere where anyone can be comfortable, a reflection of St. Pete’s diversity and supportive nature. Baker said Zoie’s will offer an immersive and unique experience, while welcoming the community to a laid-back and familial vibe.

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When guests come in, Baker said, concerns about he, her or they disappear. Instead, it’s all about “us,” celebrating all beliefs and walks of life.

“When you walk through our door you become a part of our family,” he said. “It’s ‘we’ and ‘us.’ It doesn’t matter what pronoun you are. We’re a collective family when you come in.”

Zoie’s offers new takes on classic fare

When it comes to the food and drink, Baker says that it will be “unlike anything in St. Pete” currently. He has traveled throughout the country finding favorite dishes and cocktails, which he has worked with his chef to tweak and add creative, modern twists. Zoie’s is expected to be open from 11 am – 3 am daily.

The full menu has been unveiled on Zoie’s website, complete with lunch, brunch, dinner, and late night menus. Some of the eye-catching offerings include a BBQ and peach pork chop, a catfish reuben, chicken and waffles, crawfish egg rolls, and a banana bread pudding with rum and toffee sauce.

A catfish reuben, and chicken and waffles
Photos via Zoie’s

On the list of appetizers, Zoie’s offers classics like Savannah-style fried green tomatoes, N’awlins BBQ shrimp, creole corn ribs, and southern decadence fries. Beloved southern sandwiches dot the lunch menu with favorites like a Kentucky Hot Brown, shrimp and sausage po’boys, chicken and biscuits, and a gargantuan called the “Squeal Like A Pig” stuffed with in-house slow braised pork, andouille sausage and bacon, complete with a side of baked beans.

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On the dinner menu, the BBQ peach pork chop stars alongside chicken and dumplings, crawfish pot pie, braised pork belly, shrimp and grits, pimento stuffed chicken, and classic southern-fried catfish. The decadent brunch menu offers everything from Tennessee hoe cakes and a creole breakfast bowl, to a southern quiche, a smoked brisket grilled cheese sandwich, cajun eggs benedict, and a massive dish called The Elvis: skillet-cooked banana bread topped with whipped peanut butter, sliced bananas, candied bacon & a side of Zoie’s signature syrups.

Zoie’s plans to become a mainstay for events and activities

While Baker and his chef have been focused on perfecting the menu, the owner is also happy to share his excitement for the new concept and for a place he hopes will become a hub for activity in Grand Central. Baker has extensive plans for a wide variety of events, showcases and interactive experiences. He anticipates hosting everything from comedy and art shows to pianists and local musicians.

“Our goal is to be an artistic connection for St. Pete and take advantage of all the great local talent that’s here,” Baker explained. “It’s going to be a different experience each time you come.”

In that same vein, Zoie’s is meant to be a place that reflects its neighborhood, with affordable meals and cocktails, a late-night menu, commission-free artwork and an inclusive atmosphere where everybody can be comfortable being their own self.

“The neighborhood is very important to us, and we want to be a big part of it,” Baker said. “We want to provide a supportive place and be active in all communities. All the way back through time, food is an important part of bringing people together. Food is always at the center. Food is a part of what we do.”

Zoie’s is the realization of a dream for ownership

A pork sandwich, and creole breakfast bowl
Photos via Zoie’s

Baker himself is a former data scientist who, like so many others, saw the events at the onset of covid as his sign to follow his dream. He has long dreamt of this concept, “a place for everyone,” that supports community and staff alike. He is building his vision on the pillars of love, respect and inclusion, offering a welcoming environment and supporting staff with at least state minimum wage for all employees no matter their role, as well as sick leave and vacation days.

“This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I hope people who don’t have a place, can have a place to feel like they’re a part of something,” Baker said. “We want to make sure that we, and the people who work for us, exude that. If you’re working for us, you have to believe in this.”

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