After seven years open in downtown St. Petersburg’s booming Grand Central District, Punky’s Bar and Grill at 3063 Central Ave. has suddenly closed. It's last day in operation was Wednesday, Aug. 3.
In a farewell letter posted on Punky’s Facebook, owners Lynn Deibert and John Burt honored the legacy of their queer haven.
“We have become a place of safety for the LGBTQ+ community, a melting pot for people from ALL walks of life…and their pets! We have celebrated victories, survived struggles, mourned losses and came together to help each other and the community,” the post reads.
The statement also emphasizes that Punky’s has raised over $150,000 for various local charities throughout the years. Its owners are also helping their employees find new jobs in wake of the restaurant’s sudden closure, in addition to distributing the kitchen’s remaining food amongst the former staff.
Punky’s was known for its events—like outdoor markets, drag queen bingo and live music—cheap drinks, a large outdoor patio, and welcoming atmosphere for all walks of life. The Central Avenue-facing restaurant offered a no-nonsense menu of burgers, wings, flatbreads, salads and sandwiches, in addition to a wide variety of beer, wine and signature cocktails.
Right now, it’s unsure what the Punky’s building will become. A former employee told Patch that a sports bar will take over the space, although the claim cannot be confirmed yet.
Punky’s opened in December of 2015, filling the gap that Georgie's Alibi left when the popular gay bar and club closed that same year. Seven years later, a plethora of queer-owned and friendly businesses populate downtown St. Pete, following in the footsteps of Punky’s and its predecessors.
And although Punky’s has shuttered its doors for good, downtown St. Pete’s Grand Central District still has many other LGBTQ+ friendly restaurants and bars, including Central Avenue stalwart Old Key West Bar & Grill, Cocktail, Salty Nun, and the upcoming Zoie’s restaurant.