Container bar adds to the Avenue's outdoor patio

Here's the lowdown on the 10-month-old container bar at downtown St. Pete's the Avenue.

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click to enlarge The container bar serves up specialty cocktails and more. - Mia Culbertson for Wax & Hive
Mia Culbertson for Wax & Hive
The container bar serves up specialty cocktails and more.

Downtown St. Pete is where locals will find Tampa Bay's newest container bar.

Favorite First Avenue South restaurant and watering hole the Avenue hollowed out and refurbished two 20-foot shipping containers to create a bar and walk-in cooler with a retractable roof. The addition has been open for 10 months, operating 11:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. to midnight the rest of the week.

With 14 taps and a rotating beverage menu, the revamped, fully stocked container carries offerings like specialty cocktails and domestic and local craft brews. It provides guests with a different experience than the Avenue's indoor dining, said owner Stephen Schrutt.

After falling for the vibe of a container bar in Asheville, North Carolina, Schrutt settled on turning his restaurant's unused back patio into a more intimate, communal venue for entertainment and cold drinks.

"[The Asheville bar] had a rustic and inviting Southern feel that we go for," he said. "The container was not only unique but functional."

The Avenue's container, which doubles the restaurant's seating capacity, brought nine new televisions to its laid-back outdoor dining and bar area, along with a new stage for live music and various performers.

According to bartender Aimee Rock, who's worked at the restaurant for two years and watched the transformation of its outside space, the container bar gives diners more freedom and comfort, whether they're watching the sun dip below the St. Pete skyline or getting to know a new friend.

"It's a whole other atmosphere — more casual," she said. "You can bounce around from bar to bar, or stay in one place and get two completely different experiences."

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