Second Engine No. 9 to heat up St. Pete, changes at Dunedin House of Beer & more

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click to enlarge BURGER KING: "Downtown's too overkill for me," said Engine No. 9’s Jason Esposito. "It's not feasible for what I wanna do." - Meaghan Habuda
Meaghan Habuda
BURGER KING: "Downtown's too overkill for me," said Engine No. 9’s Jason Esposito. "It's not feasible for what I wanna do."

That old Airstream trailer in the Grand Central District of St. Petersburg has found a new tenant. The revamped space will function as the kitchen for a second eatery by Engine No. 9's Jason Esposito. He's still tinkering with the name (Engine 929, perhaps?) but is pushing to debut next month.

The property at 2901 Central Ave. formerly housed the Airstream Grill and La Creperia Cafe (which is slated to open a new Pinellas outpost at Gulfport's Sea Breeze Manor B&B at the end of this month). Esposito said that the original Engine No. 9 on MLK Street North doesn't accommodate outdoor seating, so his new site will fill that void, catering to families and the city’s pooch-loving community.

Where the first Engine No. 9 has more of a sports-bar vibe, Esposito envisions an inviting, unified beer-garden atmosphere at the new establishment, with trees planted around the perimeter to separate diners from the road. The restaurant’s focus will be its outdoor dining and lounge areas, with a small bar inside and seating to complement.

Esposito said he wants to air movies outside (“I’m talking big-screen”), and the sports, of course, aren’t going anywhere. Sundays may bring pig roasts or crawfish boils, too.

“We want to be a part of the community rather than the offshoot,” he said.

As with the original, some burgers and wings will be served, but Esposito said the restaurants are separate entities that won’t bump heads. The second location’s menu will offer healthier fare, including salads. He's also promising a larger draft beer list and in-house smoked and cured meats for sandwiches.

“I see a win-win opportunity here,” Esposito said.

click to enlarge The new brewery's logo. - Dunedin House of Beer
Dunedin House of Beer
The new brewery's logo.

Building Dunedin’s third brewery

Construction begins in February on the newest project from Dunedin House of Beer owners Rick Clemo and Andy Polce: House of Beer Brewing Co. The brewery and tasting room will sit just east of 927 Broadway, where House of Beer is nestled.

According to Clemo, he and Polce have already showcased small-batch brews to House of Beer patrons. After the building behind their bar became available, they decided to transform it into their brewing facility’s headquarters.

The 3,700-square-foot space will also contain a restaurant, which Clemo said may be run by House of Beer or another interested local.

He described some of the brewery’s features: an open floor plan stocked with family-friendly games, similar to 3 Daughters Brewing in St. Petersburg; an outdoor patio facing the Pinellas Trail; and plenty of parking, 40 to 50 spots.

House of Beer Brewing Co.’s logo, with cyclists, a dog-walker and sunset, pays homage to Dunedin.

Until the brewery premieres, Clemo and Polce will continue to serve their brewed-across-the-street experimentations at House of Beer. A pale ale and a saison will be offered in around a month.

However, Clemo said, “We’re not focused on the beer just yet.”

Breakfast-all-day diner expands north

Gordon Stevenson, who introduced Trip’s Diner to St. Petersburg in 2012, naming it after his three triplets, confirmed he’s opening a second no-frills spot under the moniker. It’s in the old Tíasia Sushi Bar & Thai Cuisine space at 10555 Park Blvd. N.

Stevenson said he knows the landlord and the area. He thinks it’s a good market.

Keeping pace with the original, Sunshine State brochures, postcards and maps, sourced from eBay, will be integrated into the new joint’s tabletops. The hours and dishes won’t change, either.

With 90 seats inside and 16 outside, the Seminole diner is bigger than the flagship, but not by much. Trip’s general manager Kelley Hamlin will oversee Stevenson’s latest eatery.

Though mum about an opening date, Stevenson said he hopes to launch a few Trip’s over time. 

An egg-cellent five years

Saturday, Nov. 15, marks the five-year anniversary of Gulfport’s Stella’s Deli at 3119 Beach Blvd. S. The restaurant, headed by owner Barbara Banno, and its staff are celebrating by holding a 5 Weeks of Giving event for the area.

Leading up to its anniversary soirée, Stella’s will offer weekly deals on breakfast specials while raising money for a “charity of the week,” according to a news release. A portion of each week's sales will benefit the designated organization.

The restaurant will also host a number of activities, including tricycle races and a costume run, to collect additional donations on Saturdays.

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