The revamped landmark building where Chief’s Creole Cafe opened last November in Midtown St. Petersburg is just one of many restoration projects that have been taken on by owners Elihu and Carolyn Brayboy, who go by Mr. and Mrs. B. The restaurant was formerly a grocery store and a tavern, and traces of both are evident in the decor. Next door is the historic Moure building, where Gallerie 909 and the Brayboys’ consignment and ice cream shops are located. The couple also own the 19254 Merriwether building, which will feature affordable housing upstairs and commercial space on the street level. Carolyn always liked real estate, but didn’t realize she enjoyed renovation at the start. Later, “It just fascinated me to be able to fix stuff,” she says. “We’ve done it our entire lives.” The Brayboys, serial thrifters and recyclers as much as they are revitalizers, dated in high school, and went their separate ways when they started college. Ten years later, they crossed paths and eventually married. Mr. B introduced Mrs. B to the secondary market. He’s able to find quality dresses for $5 or $6, and still picks out her clothes. The duo has two daughters together, and five grandchildren. Their three granddaughters -— two are 10 years old, and the other is 6 — visit them in the summer. When the couple, who’ve been married for 35 years, aren’t being “old fuddy-duddies,” as they put it, they’re meandering through various estate sales, yard bargains and consignment shops. They’re also keeping up with their diverse at-home collection of plants, including white birds of paradise, almost half a dozen 20-foot-tall royal palms and African irises.
St. Pete’s jewel: LASSING PARK. Mr. B: “It’s just peaceful. You can see downtown Tampa on a clear day.”
The best place to take the grandkids: ST. PETERSBURG TENNIS CENTER. Mrs. B: “Theme parks are not affordable… We engage them in local programs.” Mr. B: “I bought them each a share of Disney stock.”
The best place to get away for a while: NAPLES. Mrs. B: “We stay for two or three days and shop at all the consignment shops we can find.”
The best destinations for hidden treasures: ESTATE SALES, from St. Pete to Tampa to Plant City. Mrs. B: “Everything’s new and interesting… You never know how it’s gonna be.”
The best place to celebrate your green thumb: pTEC NURSERY in Clearwater. Mr. B: “Behind the county jail is pTEC. They have a special project to teach inmates horticulture. It’s our #1 resource to buy plants.” Mrs. B: “I love to work outside with my hands.”
The best spot to watch a movie on the cheap: BRITTON 8 AT BRITTON PLAZA in Tampa.
The best fresh market: HILLSBOROUGH AVENUE FARMERS’ MARKET.
The best, and thriftiest, way to keep the grandkids busy: PAT MCGHEE’S YOUTH ETIQUETTE and FASHION BOOT CAMP. Mrs. B: “They get to design a dress with recyclable material.” And strut their stuff.