St. Pete's forthcoming Central Park food hall announces new tenants, including Speaks Clam Bar and Kojo

It's supposed to open by the end of 2022.

click to enlarge TampaTomorrow / Instagram
TampaTomorrow / Instagram

Construction just began on St. Petersburg's massive Central Park food hall, and it’s not expected to open for about a year, but its first two culinary concepts have already been announced.

Kojo (stylized "KOJO"), a modern Asian restaurant, and Speaks Clam Bar, a seafood-forward concept are the first of many eateries that will occupy the 24,000 square-foot, multi-story food hall at 551 Central Ave. Both of these restaurants are brought to St. Petersburg by Hi Hospitality—a group founded by food hall owner Natalia Levey.

Both locations of Speak’s Clam Bar are in the greater Manatee area, so when Central Park debuts next year it’ll be St. Petersburg's first taste of the brand's fresh oysters, garlic lobster tails and crispy shrimp baskets. Head on down to Sarasota if you’d like to experience Kojo’s fusion menu that blends flavors from Japanese, Vietnamese and Chinese cuisine. Standouts on the menu include matcha chicken and waffles, Wagyu steak skewers, breakfast Banh Mi and its signature KOJO sushi roll stacked with spicy tuna, salmon, kabayaki, spicy mayo, cucumber and tempura bits.

Levey is also a culinary nutrition educator, so expect a wide variety of healthy food options when her food hall debuts next year.

New details from WFLA confirm that Central Park will also feature an additional high-end speakeasy located in the basement and an event space above Kojo—recent developments that were not a part of the food hall's original blueprint. The first three floors at 551 Central Ave. will be chock full of different culinary experiences—with Speak’s Clam Bar on the second floor and Kojo’s restaurant and full-service bar on the food hall’s top level.

According to permit-obsessed website TampaTomorrow, St. Pete's Central Park food hall is a “adaptive reuse project”— a term that refers to the rehabilitation of an old building and its structures, versus tearing it down and starting anew. All-day breakfast lovers remember the Dome Grill, which was open out of the space until 2018. The building itself is a remnant of the old St. Petersburg, as retail store Woolworth’s occupied it for decades throughout the 20th century.

Central Park joins  On the Fly and Edge Eatery in the St. Pete food hall game. Plans for the Armature Works-style space at Sundial have been halted due to a lawsuit.

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