Lori Brown · Jan 23, 2018 · 3 min read
A couple of weeks ago, St Petersburg Foodies got a sneak peek into the interior of Callaloo as it is coming together. It is a vast space that the Callaloo group is utilizing to its full potential and after seeing it we are very excited for this new concept to open on St Petersburg's south side.
What is Callaloo? Well it happens to be a popular vegetable in the Caribbean that can be cooked like collard greens. "We wanted something that was melodic," Mario Farias, one of the managing partners said, referring to the name. "We felt it played an interesting role in connecting the soul food or Southern cooking to the Caribbean cuisine." The name lends towards the fusion Chef Gary Moran is creating with Floribbean cuisine - a taste of the Caribbean islands blended with a Florida comfort food twist. The style will place notable influence from Haiti, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
The partners of Callaloo are Ramon Hernandez, owner of Pipo's Cuban Cafe and Pipo's To Go; Vincent Jackson, former wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who also owns seven restaurants across the country, two of them in Tampa: Ferg's Live and Cask Social; Mario Farias of Farias Consulting Group and great activist for the city of St. Petersburg; And Executive Chef of Callaloo, Gary Moran, former owner of Wimauma restaurant in Tampa and prior to that Chef at the famed Tavern on the Green in New York City.
You can read our original piece here regarding Callaloo's historic location: Callaloo to Open in the Historic Manhattan Casino
Upon entering the main restaurant on the first floor to the left is the To Go counter that will serve food from the Pipo’s Cuban Café menu.
Straight ahead is the beautiful bar and lounge which can hold 36 people. To the left of the bar is the large main dining room which has a capacity for 88. There is also a private room in the back which can seat 20. There will also be outdoor seating for 20. In the restaurant the average price point for lunch will range from $10 - $12 a meal. The dinner menu will be a tad more elaborate with a price point for entrees ranging from $16 - $18.
Even without the space being completely put together, one can feel that the vibe in the room is open, airy and full of fun. The bar and the table tops for the main dining room are made from repurposed pine from a large tree that fell during Hurricane Irma in September 2017.
The fourth element of the first floor is a full-service commissary which will produce food products for all of the Pipo’s restaurants and will provide Pipo's the space needed for the catering segment of the business. The commissary also gives the facility financial stability because it will not be completely dependent on just the restaurant and event space for income.
The second floor is a stunning event space with a maximum capacity of 300 and its own separate kitchen. This space will be used not only for weddings, corporate meetings, dances and private parties but it will also be used by Callaloo as a performance music venue (it has its own built in sound system too) as it had been many years ago when it was The Manhattan Casino. The lease on the space actually stipulates a requirement for a certain number of performances in each year of operation to be arranged for by the Callaloo group.
Callaloo has already held a couple of events in the event space that have they have been extremely pleased with. They look forward to many more.
The grand opening and ribbon cutting ceremony is scheduled for April 6, 2018. With a soft opening and a private friends and family event a couple of weeks prior. As far as we are concerned, it can't come soon enough!
Southern Caribbean Fusion (Floribbean) themed restaurant opening in the Historic Manhattan Casino.