There’s a new grand opening in Grand Central coming soon, as Zoie’s announced it will open its doors to the public on September 2. The restaurant and bar has been in the works for more than a year, and ownership has finally revealed the anticipated concept, promising southern comfort food with a modern twist.
Zoie’s, described on its website as “a place for everyone,” is located at 2245 Central Avenue. 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.
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.”
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 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
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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