'Two Graces' takes over former Reading Room space in St. Pete and could open next month

With a serious focus on a unique outdoor dining experience.

click to enlarge Shot from Two Grace's indoor lounge area. - LIZ CALVER
LIZ CALVER
Shot from Two Grace's indoor lounge area.

The former beloved Reading Room space is finally getting some action after a year and a half of being vacant. That's all thanks to Grace Restaurant owners chef Marlin Kaplan and Lisa Masterson. The duo is known for its Grace concept on St. Pete Beach alongside two Gracie Pasta and Provisions locations in the 'Burg.

Earlier this year, Kaplan linked up with the property owner, Kevin Lane, to talk about reimagining the space for what would be known as "Two Graces," and the two quickly hit it off.

The vision for Two Graces heavily relies on an outdoor dining component that will operate alongside the indoor space. 

On a phone call with Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, Kaplan explained that in September the Grace team began the permitting process for 6001 Central Ave., which proved to be a little difficult and timely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While awaiting permitting and starting the remodeling of the indoor space, Kaplan and Masterson harvested the Two Grace's garden (a major component of Reading Room) and utilized the ingredients within Grace's kitchen.  

The Reading Room's Margo Paraska tends to the outdoor gardens in March 2017. - NICOLE ABBETT
Nicole Abbett
The Reading Room's Margo Paraska tends to the outdoor gardens in March 2017.

As far as the menu goes, Kaplan says that diners can expect some of the same staples from the Grace Restaurant, like a handful of signature pasta dishes made with Gracie products. Unlike its St. Pete Beach sister, Two Graces will boast a wood-burning pizza oven meaning there'll be pizza pie on the menu. The bar is equipped to serve wine, beer and spirits, so bubbles are at the ready.

Now let's talk layout. Two Grace's floor plan will look different than anything the Tampa Bay restaurant scene has witnessed before. Not only will Two Graces host an indoor dining space with a front patio/lounge area, the restaurant will also be home to three outdoor dining spaces. The indoor dining room hosts seating for 52 guests, while the lounge area, complete with couches, big comfy chairs and high tops can seat 17 guests. The lounge area is prime for those who are looking to grab a glass of wine and a pie while waiting for their table, or a casual date night experience. 

The three pergola outdoor dining spaces range in size, from large (48 seats) to medium (20 seats) and private parties (12 seats). All three are laced with misters and heaters to proved dining in all four seasons. Worried about the rain? These outdoor spaces are enclosed and Kaplan says diners will be more than comfortable dining during a rainstorm. The largest outdoor space will also have a water fountain component for a beautiful photo op and to provide a little white noise allowing diners to have intimate conversations over their meal.

For those who aren't quite ready to dine indoors, and are looking for a unique dining experience in the Tampa Bay food scene, the pergola seating option isn't far from opening. Kaplan told CL that the team is shooting for a January 2021 opening. 

Technically, the indoor dining space at Two Graces is ready to go, but co-owner and chef, Marlin Kaplan, said the restaurant won't make its debut until the outdoor dining component is complete. More details to come as construction on the outdoor dining space continues and an official opening date is announced. Until then, you can swing by Grace Restaurant at 120 8th Ave. on St. Pete Beach to get a taste of what's to come, while being open to a few new menu items Two Graces has in store. 

click to enlarge Two Graces' kitchen will utilize ingredients from the on-site garden in dishes as well as cocktails. - LIZ CALVER
LIZ CALVER
Two Graces' kitchen will utilize ingredients from the on-site garden in dishes as well as cocktails.

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