New St. Pete coffee bar highlights waffle du jour, craft cocktail-style coffees

Owner Story Stuart has combined her two favorite worlds at Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar.

click to enlarge Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar owner Story Stuart prepares the carefully constructed Campfire Story. - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar owner Story Stuart prepares the carefully constructed Campfire Story.

Waffle of the Day is an unexpected draw at Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar, which quietly debuted to St. Petersburg at the end of January.

Owner Story Stuart — the Story Brooke in Story Brooke Craft Coffee who says she's long planned on opening her own coffee shop — wanted a cool place to spotlight her passion for all things beverage and blend her two favorite worlds: cocktails and coffee. But Stuart's rotating waffle du jour, advertised on the coffee bar's Facebook page every morning, has also taken off.

"I think the neighborhood needed, more than anything, a local spot to eat during the day," said Stuart, who most recently served as a food and beverage experience manager for Orlando's Walt Disney World.

For a long time, waffles — Stuart's favorite breakfast food — always took center stage at she and her friends' brunches, where her background in cocktails came in handy for boozy toppings such as bourbon and vodka sauces. When the opportunity to launch Story Brooke Craft Coffee at 1437 Fourth St. S. fell into her lap, as the 24-year-old puts it, she saw waffles as a one-of-a-kind addition to the menu.

Previous Waffles of the Day, which can also be made gluten-free, include combos like fresh blackberry sauce/white chocolate/banana/kiwi/blackberry/whipped cream/torched coconut and blood orange liqueur raspberry sauce/milk chocolate/banana/peaches/whipped cream/almonds. Stuart's favorite is bourbon bananas Foster, topped with brûléed ice cream, Woodford Reserve-infused sauce and caramelized bananas, among other yummy ingredients.

"You can produce it quick to order, and it's something you don't often get at a coffee shop," she said of the all-day waffle selection. "I thought it was something different I could do that wouldn't put me in competition with anyone else."

Waffles are a hit, no doubt. But the focus is on craft cocktail-style drinks, Stuart points out.

Liquid highlights are house-made syrups like vanilla and Stevia; organic, fair-trade loose-leaf teas; a creme brûlée cappuccino with a melted sugar crust; the Campfire Story, a carefully constructed creation served in a hickory-smoked glass that especially demonstrates the magic that's possible when coffee and cocktails collide; and cold brew, which she's set to start bottling soon.

Panini of the Day and pastries (yup, even the gluten-free kind), meanwhile, round out Story Brooke Craft Coffee's food options.

According to Stuart, she scoped out the location of her new coffee bar and committed to the 800-square-foot space south of Central Avenue in the same day. Her DIY spirit has driven her to incorporate reclaimed and vintage finds throughout the rustic, stylish 21-seat hangout  and build everything, including the crate shelving behind the counter, by hand.

Among the decorative features is what's called a "gallery wall," the first of which is about a third of the way complete and showcases the work of local artist Brittany Cagle. The plan is to make the wall a monthly installation and highlight different creatives in the area.

The owner says her target audience is neighborhood residents, who are happy to have a local place to go that's closer to home.

"I think downtown's becoming so saturated that more and more young professionals are moving over here, and small businesses haven't caught on yet, but there's so much opportunity for small business down here," Stuart said. "And I've seen it from my guests who come in."

With recently extended weekday hours, Story Brooke Craft Coffee Bar operates from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday.

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