Creative Loafing Tampa Bay contributor Josh Bradley recently outlined 100 places you can see live music in Tampa Bay, and we’ve got another badly needed place to add to his list.
Just seven months after the sudden closure of downtown St. Pete’s Ringside Cafe, the popular bar and venue has announced its new location one block away. Although it’s a short walk from the old Ringside, the space will offer all the same comforts: live music, stiff drinks, and a second-floor balcony for all your people-watching needs.
The new and improved Ringside at 350 1st Ave. N, just across from Williams Park, celebrates its grand opening on Friday July 29 with local musician TL Jentgens.
And while there will be a few new bartenders to get to know, there will also be some familiar faces.
Longtime manager Mitch Gray told CL that the team is currently putting the finishing touches on the space, but will definitely be ready for the grand opening this weekend. The new location is comparable in size to the old one outside Jannus Live and has a capacity of approximately 250 people.
There is a brand new sound and light system, as well as a wireless Ipad mixer which will allow certain groups to control their own sound.
Other than moving the bar and some other cosmetic renovations, Ringside owner Greg Pugh and the rest of his team didn’t have to do much to convert the old club, which was once the Lagniappe Bistro, the Fuego Lounge, Diner 24 DTSP, Lion’s Lounge, and most recently Gay Bar G – in their brand new location. 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, another big opening event will take place next month with local cover band Scream Machine’s “Ultimate 80’s Arena Rock Show.”
“The live music is still here, so come out and support Ringside Cafe after all the challenges they’ve faced while keeping the music scene alive,” the Facebook event page reads.
Scream Machine is sure to cover all the hits from Van Halen, Guns n’ Roses, KISS and AC/DC, plus many more.
Although many of the same Tampa Bay-based bands are already booked on the room’s role, a few new Ringside artists will soon grace its stage. Bands like Symmetry, Actual Bank Robbers, Almost There and Nightbreakers, plus a recurring dueling piano event, will be making their Ringside debuts in the coming months.
This is Ringside Cafe’s third location in St. Petersburg. It was moved from its flagship 4th Street location in 2013 after 25 years, and from its adjacent Jannus Live location earlier this year after about a decade there.
Good Night John Boy, a 1970s-themed nightclub, will open later this year from the former Ringside Cafe space at 16 2nd St. N. The Ohio-based Forward Hospitality Group will also offer its other concept: a western-themed bar and venue. called Welcome to the Farm – in the now closed MacDinton’s space on 1st Ave N.
In its last place, Ringside shared a liquor license with Jannus Live and a few of Jeff Knight’s other businesses, the same person who didn’t renew the venue’s previous lease. Despite the recent move, Gray says there are no hard feelings between them and Knight.
After surviving several moves and a pandemic that temporarily shut him down, it looks like Ringside can overcome all odds at this point.
We can probably survive whatever is thrown at us.
“We can probably survive whatever is thrown at us, and we always seem to find these two-story good places. I guess if this place burns down, we could find another place,” Gray laughs.
While he’s not sure the new location will have the same foot traffic, he hopes his surrounding businesses, particularly his colleague Ruby’s Elixir, will help attract new customers.
After Friday’s grand opening concert, the new and improved Ringside Cafe will be open from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. on weekdays and from noon to 3 a.m. on weekends. Gray says the bar and venue will host live music every night of the week except Monday.
For more information on upcoming Ringside concerts and events, visit his Facebook at @Ringsidedowntown.