New St. Pete restaurant and lounge, The Catalyst, will open out of the former Chief’s Creole Cafe space

Co-owner Jason Bryant is aiming to soft open next week.

click to enlarge Chief's Creole Cafe - Photo via Chief's Creole Cafe/Facebook
Photo via Chief's Creole Cafe/Facebook
Chief's Creole Cafe
St. Pete’s storied Chief’s Creole Cafe served its very last customers in April, and its replacement is already gearing up for its soft opening.

Multifaceted hospitality concept The Catalyst on the Deuces will soon open out of the prized, pink building at 901 22nd St. S, dishing out tasty Jamaican food, cocktails and laid-back patio hangs.

Local entrepreneur Jason Bryant, founder of local consulting business New Era Thinking, is one of the St. Pete residents committed to revitalizing the historic space.

“The southside is always a few steps behind the rest of the city, even though it's literally less than a mile from all of this growth that’s happening,” Bryant tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “ I really love my city and I love the lifestyle here, but I’d like to see The Deuces become a destination like downtown or the Grand Central District.”

Bryant says that The Catalyst aims to soft open on Thursday, June 1, and that light renovations have already taken place in the dining room and outdoor patio of the former Chief’s Creole Cafe.

As for its iconic pink facade and large mural of Louis Armstrong, Bryant says those aspects will stick around for the time being, although the outside of the building might eventually get a facelift.

When Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy announced the closure of their Southern restaurant last month, the couple stated they would retain the facility, but it would remain "available to any entrepreneur who would like or need a venue." Bryant, his business partner Jeffrey Copeland and Chris, Sheldon and Andrew Steele—owners of St. Pete's recently-closed Sid’s Caribbean Cafe—stepped up to the plate. Sid’s quietly closed its doors on Central Avenue earlier this year to the dismay of oxtail-lovers across The ‘Burg, but will bring its jerk chicken, stewed cabbage and savory beef patties to the southside next month.

In addition to its Caribbean restaurant, lounge and patio, Bryant says The Catalyst will also be available to rent for private parties and events.

Besides running his local consulting business and being involved in various community organizations, Bryant was most recently part of the Urban Collective, a group of St. Pete residents that attempted to revitalize the Manhattan Casino and operate its food hall in 2021. Last year, Mayor Ken Welch did not renew its lease after a tumultuous few months between the city and tenants of the historic building, according to St. Pete Catalyst.

Bryant is applying lessons he learned from the Manhattan Casino and the now-closed 22 South Food Hall to his newest project in The Deuces.

“One of the things that I learned with 22 South is that the restaurant business is very unique and requires a certain level of skills and patience, which doesn’t suit me anymore,” Bryant says.

The Steeles will operate their Jamaican restaurant inside of the building while Bryant manages the patio and lounge area, although customers of both businesses will be able to patronize either side in a seamless manner.

“The community really does want something in that area, ran by people that have no other agenda,” Bryant continues. “We need to start leaning on the history of The Deuces and factoring that into the business, while remaining flexible and hosting a variety of events for the people that live here.”

For the latest information on The Catalyst and its upcoming soft opening, head to its Facebook page or  Instagram at @catalystonthedueces. Bryant says operating hours for both concepts will be announced on social media sometime this week.

Folks interested in renting The Catalyst for private parties or events can directly email Bryant at [email protected].

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About The Author

Kyla Fields

Kyla Fields is the Managing Editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay who started their journey at CL as summer 2019 intern. They are the proud owner of a charming, sausage-shaped, four-year-old rescue mutt named Piña.
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