St. Pete’s beloved music venue Ringside Cafe reopens in a new location this week

The new bar and venue is just a block away from its previous Jannus Live-adjacent location

click to enlarge Ringside's new location at 350 1st Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg. - Kyla Fields
Kyla Fields
Ringside's new location at 350 1st Ave. N in downtown St. Petersburg.
Creative Loafing Tampa Bay contributor Josh Bradley recently outlined 100 places where you can see live music in Tampa Bay, and we have one more sorely-missed venue to add to his list.

Just seven months after downtown St. Pete’s Ringside Cafe suddenly closed, the popular bar and venue announced its new location just a block away. Although it’s a few minutes walk away from the old Ringside, the space will boast all of the same comforts: live music, stiff drinks, and a second floor balcony for all of your people-watching needs.

The new and improved Ringside at 350 1st Ave. N, directly across from Williams Park, celebrates its grand opening on Friday, July 29 with local musician TL Jentgens.
And although there will be a few new bartenders to get acquainted with, there will be some familiar faces as well.

Longtime manager Mitch Gray tells CL that the team is currently putting the finishing touches on the space, but will  definitely be ready for this weekend’s grand opening. The new location is comparable in size to the old one outside Jannus Live and has a capacity of about 250 people.

There’s a brand new sound and light system, as well as a wireless Ipad mixer that will allow some bands to control their own sound.

Besides moving the bar and few other cosmetic renovations, Ringside’s owner Greg Pugh and the rest of his team didn’t have to do much to convert the old club—which used to be Lagniappe Bistro, Fuego Lounge, Diner 24 DTSP, Lion's Lounge, and most recently G gay bar—into their brand new venue. They started renovating in mid-April and have spent the last three months at work.

In addition to The Spazmatics headlining Ringside on  Saturday, July 30, there’s also another grand opening event happening next month featuring local cover band Scream Machine's “Ultimate 80’s Arena Rock Show.”

“Live music is still here, so get out and support Ringside Cafe after all the challenges they have been faced with while keeping the music scene alive,” the Facebook event page states.

Scream Machine will be sure to cover all of the hits from Van Halen, Guns n' Roses, KISS and AC/DC, alongside many, many more.

Although many of the same Tampa Bay-based bands are already booked on the venue's docket, a few new-to-Ringside acts will soon grace its stage. Bands like Symmetry, Actual Bank Robbers, Almost There and Nightbreakers—in addition to a recurring dueling piano event—will make its debut Ringside appearances within the next months.

This is Ringside Cafe’s third location in St. Petersburg. It was displaced from its flagship 4th Street location in 2013 after 25 years, and from its Jannus Live-adjacent location earlier this year after about a decade there.
Good Night John Boy, a 1970s-themed disco club, will open later this year out of the previous Ringside Cafe space at 16 2nd St. N. Ohio-based Forward Hospitality Group will also bring its other concept—a western themed bar and venue called Welcome to the Farm—to the now-closed MacDinton’s space on 1st Ave. N.

At its last spot, Ringside shared a liquor license with Jannus Live and a few of Jeff Knight’s other businesses, the same person who did not renew the venue’s previous lease. Despite the recent displacement, Gray says there’s no hard feelings between them and Knight.

After surviving multiple moves and a pandemic that temporarily shut it down, it seems like Ringside can overcome any obstacles at this point.

We can probably survive anything that’s thrown at us.

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“We can probably survive anything that’s thrown at us, and we always seem to find these good, two-story places. I guess if this place burns down,  we could find somewhere else once again,” Gray says with a laugh.

Although he’s not sure if the new location will have the same amount of foot traffic, he’s hoping that its surrounding businesses, especially fellow venue Ruby’s Elixir, will help bring in new patrons.

After Friday’s grand opening gig, the new and improved Ringside Cafe will be open from 4 p.m.-3 a.m. during the week and noon-3 a.m. on weekends. Gray says that the bar and venue will host live music every night of the week, except for Mondays.

For more information on Ringside’s upcoming concerts and events, head to its Facebook at @Ringsidedowntown.

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