The Grand Central District continues to be one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in St. Petersburg. It seems like each week we are hearing about a new restaurant, bar, or apartment community coming soon to the district which is located just west of downtown.
Earlier this week, we spoke with Matt Kaye, lifelong local and owner of the classiest dive bar in St. Pete — The Bends. After eight years of being a bar owner, he has teamed up with the former Executive Chef of Noble Crust, Rob Reinsmith, to launch Wild Child, a vibrant neighborhood bistro built on seasonal ingredients and warm hospitality.
“The Bends really represented me when I was younger and the type of bars I always used to love going to,” says Kaye. “Now I’d like to build a new business that represents more of what I am currently into.”
Wild Child will open at 2710 Central Avenue in the Grand Central District. The 2,000 square foot space was formerly occupied by NuMex, which closed their doors last November.
“We had been looking all around St. Pete for the right location and when we found 2710 Central, we knew it was perfect for us,” says Kaye. “The surrounding businesses such as Bandit Coffee, Casita Taqueria and Baba on Central are all such strong and creative places. We are lucky to be on this block.”
The new bistro’s menu will feature New American cuisine, a catch-all category of food that’ll allow Reinsmith to create nearly anything he wants for Wild Child. The menu is still in development, but already some early favorites have emerged.
One of the standouts among the small plates is the Snapper Ceviche with watermelon, cucumber, avocado, Serrano pepper, red onion and plantain chips. Some of the larger dishes include a skirt steak with romesco, onion marmalade and oyster mushrooms and a Brick Chicken with yuzu salsa verde and fresh cut fries.
There will also be vegetarian options, such as the Peach and Heirloom Tomato Salad with burrata, almond-mint pesto, pickled cherries, shaved red onion, crunchy sourdough croutons.
If your mouth is watering by now, it’s because Chef Reinsmith is one of the best chefs in the entire region. When he was the Executive Chef for Noble Crust in North St. Pete, the restaurant was in the top 50 best restaurants in Tampa Bay for four consecutive years. Earlier on in his career, he was Chef de Cuisine in Parm (NYC) and also held a sous chef position at Michelin Star restaurant, Torrisi Italian Specialties, in New York City.
Considering Reinsmith’s impressive résumé, we cannot wait to see what he will devise for Wild Child when given free rein.
Kaye and Reinsmith want Wild Child to be as approachable as possible. And that goes for the pricing as well. “We really want this to be a neighborhood spot that guests want to frequent often, so our prices will reflect that,” says Kaye.
The building is currently undergoing a makeover. Wild Child’s ambiance will be tropical meets mid-century modern. The interior will be vibrant with a lot of lush plant areas. Red Sky Woodworks is fabricating numerous pieces of décor with white oak and tile.
And in true St. Pete fashion, there will be murals. The storefront is currently being brought to life by Miami-based artist Jessy Nite. And local muralist Elle LeBlanc is working on a beautiful interior wall design.
The indoor dining room, bar and the front cafe seating will operate as a restaurant with waiter/waitress service. The outdoor patio will have separate entrance with a slightly smaller food menu that can be ordered from a walk-up window and a full service cocktail bar for beverages.
Both Kaye and Reinsmith grew up in St. Pete. Kaye moved to New York City for college when he was 23 and ended up staying in the Big Apple until his 33rd birthday.
Then it was back to the Sunshine City. Kaye credits the beaches, parks, kayaking, boating, and of course, family for why he moved back to St. Petersburg. “I also grew up skateboarding here and still try to make it out now and again with my daughter, but some injuries have slowed me down lately,” laughs Kaye.
Kaye and Reinsmith met at Weeki Wachee a few years ago. Reinsmith was paddling by a house that Kaye had rented on the river and a mutual friend staying with Kaye recognized Reinsmith. After being formally introduced later on, they realized they were both looking to open a similar restaurant cocktail bar project.
“We always envisioned Wild Child to be a beautiful, full-service restaurant with a vibrant, bustling outside patio that serves up amazing food, drinks and hospitality.”
However, with the current situation, all of those plans are on hold. “Our main focus is on the safety of our staff and customers,” says Kaye.
Wild Child will implement a number of changes in wake of the Coronavirus. They will be opening with a smaller menu, counter service through a take-out window, and outdoor seating only on the sidewalk or patio. As COVID-19 cases decline, Wild Child will roll out some of their more ambitious dishes, open up indoor seating with servers, start hosting live music on weekends, and build an additional bar on the patio.
Wild Child hopes to open at the end of July. Be sure to follow them on Instagram to stay up-to-date on grand opening plans and menu teases.
Looking for work? Wild Child is now hiring bartenders, servers, food runners, and hostesses. Those interested should email [email protected]
Source: Thanks https://stpeterising.com/home/2020/7/15/owner-of-the-bends-opening-new-restaurant-in-the-grand-central-district