Craft Beer Makes St. Pete Good, Local Business Makes it Great

Dear New York Times,

Keep Saint Petersburg LocalI think we should have a chat. St. Petersburg, Florida is where I found myself. It’s where I found a place to call home. It’s where I found the beauty of local business, art, and culture. It’s where I found running, diversity, truth, happiness, love and heartbreak.

When I saw you put our humble city at number 49 in the 52 Places to Go in 2014 lineup, I was pretty stoked. We’re listed among The Vatican, Switzerland and Brazil. But after a brief mention of “a redeveloped waterfront, a stunning Dali Museum, and sophisticated restaurants”, the journalist moves right into what makes St. Pete great: craft beer.

Wait….what?

It’s true that downtown St. Pete is buzzing with culture, but not because we’ve all had a few to drink. Our city embraces local business, entrepreneurs and risk-takers. If the streets of downtown are buzzing it’s because a grassroots movement has encouraged us to support our city.

In the New York Times article, you’d think the only viable activity in St. Petersburg is a pub crawl. Trust me, those are fun, but there is so much more to the city.

The website Keep Saint Petersburg Local is the voice of our city’s locally owned, independent businesses. In fact, their stickers can be found on car windows, bicycles, backpacks, and skateboards. The Saturday Morning Market in downtown is a hub of culture and a grand display of local, organic, sustainable, green businesses.

The Market has become the heart-beat of the city, and brings local music, restaurants, and stores to life. Since its opening in 2002, residents have reported an increase in quality of life. Many families, couples and friends make The Market part of their weekly routine. Our city is becoming a beautiful melting pot for healthy living, with an inspiring indulgence in local ventures.

Businesses like The Body Electric Yoga Company, Rollin’ Oats, Banyan Café & Catering, Central Café and Organics, and Squeeze Juice Works are all examples of thriving locally owned businesses that promote a healthy lifestyle. If you’re looking to get active, live a more fulfilling life and have a great support system, Saint Petersburg is waiting for you.

But how could NYT fail to mention our expansive culture? Mentioned in passing like an awkward uncle you’d rather forget, the journalist only pays homage to the Dali, which is great by the way.

What about The Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Glass Museum and the St. Petersburg Museum of History? In downtown, the Vinoy Hotel holds heritage, history and prestige. The Banyan trees growing in our parks are centuries old. Our waterways are world-renowned and our infamous inverted-pyramid Pier has wreaked havoc on our city for months.

Yes, there’s beer. In fact, our city boasts hordes of craft beer and small bars.  The Ale and The Witch, for example, is one of my favorite craft beer locations. But the truth is, craft beer is just a piece of the puzzle that makes our city so great.

It’s disappointing that with all our culture, heritage, and enthusiasm for local business, we are recognized for beer. If you want to know what St. Petersburg is really like, stop by on February 1 for Localtopia, “A Community Celebration of All Things Local”. And yes, there will be craft beer.

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6 thoughts on “Craft Beer Makes St. Pete Good, Local Business Makes it Great

  1. I’m from Clearwater. I grew up there and as an adult I moved to Tampa. I’ve always loved St. Pete, too. It’s totally awesome that the NYT recognized the area. Not so sure about the craft beer, tho. Loved all the links.

  2. Great piece Rachel, love your passion. However… I want to defend the writer of the NYT. She said “in part.” She only had 200 words to write about St. Pete. Now that’s hard. You took over 500 words and barely scratched the surface. I think Craft Beer was chosen because it’s a national trend and some of our beers are known nation wide.

    Also, the two breweries in the NYT article are by no means the “Money Makers.” At least at this point in time. The Ale and the Witch is probably the most successful (Money Maker) of all beer establishments in St. Pete and Tampa. I’d be willing to bet Three Birds also does much better than Cycle.

    Again love your passion and enjoyed the article. Keep spreading the word about our great city.

    • Oh, you’re definitely right, Jerry. I probably missed lots of great local businesses, cultural attractions and historical sites. That’s the beauty of St. Pete, you’ll never stop finding new places to explore.

      I’m by no means a beer connoisseur, so my opinion is just that of a humble St. Pete resident who loves her city which you noted ;), so thank you.

      Our craft beer scene is certainly notable, and deserves recognition. I would have just liked to see those 200 words take a different direction.

      In any event, I am glad our city was even recognized by NYT. That’s a feat in itself.

      Thanks for the comment!

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