The two-story Historic Manhattan Casino located at 642 22nd Street South will reopen mid-March as a multi-purpose building celebrating all things St. Pete and will include a food hall, co-working space, coffee shop, event venue, and bar.
There is something for everyone at the newly reconfigured space which is situated one mile from downtown St. Pete and in close proximity to the Grand Central District, the EDGE District, and the Central Arts District. Most importantly, it is in the Deuces, the historical main street of the Black community in St. Pete.
One of the building’s owners who is a part of the Callaloo Group, Mario Farias, emphasized the main goal of the building’s revival. “As someone who is a self-proclaimed southside kid, we are hoping to preserve the rich history of the building while still providing something new to the southside, which can sometimes receive a bad rap,” says Farias.
With its various offerings, the 22 South Food Hall will be perhaps one of the most intriguing aspects of the Casino since it brings a different spin to the food hall trend. There will be six different concepts that will serve sushi, barbecue, Jamaican, Southern Cajun, and American food.
Instead of a food court-style environment, 22 South is a full-table service concept that allows you and your party to order from six different menus and be served at the same time. The concept was first brought to Tampa Bay by the Hall on Franklin, which closed their Tampa location at the end of 2020 in anticipation for the Hall at Midtown opening in the coming months.
Each restaurant will be from a local developing St. Pete eatery that doesn’t yet have a brick and mortar location. A head chef will act as the conductor in the open kitchen setting and will host various guest chefs at the featured chef’s bar. The food hall will also offer private dining for up to 12 people, a wine list featuring wines from all over the world, and a sangria bar.
The only concept that has been confirmed for the food hall is the Three Generations Food Truck. Chef Melissa Gardner has operated a food truck on the south side of St. Pete for the past few years and has now decided to team up with Farias at the Manhattan Casino. The menu for Three Generations at 22 South has not been released yet, but we hope to see Chef Melly’s Cajun shrimp and grits, salmon croquettes, and chicken and waffles.
If you are looking for a quicker food and drink option, the Deuces Café, positioned conveniently at the front of the building, will offer light eats such as croissants, fruit, and freshly baked bread as well as locally roasted caffeinated drinks.
The early evening and late-night crowd will revel in good drinks and live music from local artists at the Callaloo Bar which pays homage to the building’s previous concept. Craft beer from local breweries will be on tap as well.
With so much potential office space in the connecting building of the Casino, the Callaloo Group decided to collaborate with Rising Tide Innovation Center, a thriving coworking space in downtown St. Pete. In mid-March, there will be both private and open office spaces along with outdoor seating available for Rising Tide members only.
The Manhattan Event Center, which is on the second floor of the adjoining building holds 300 people for weddings, concerts, dances, and business events. The event hall at the Manhattan Casino has deep roots in St. Pete’s Black history. It was one of the driving factor’s behind Callaloo Group’s passion to revitalize this space.
According to Farias, “We wanted to pay homage to the hall’s history while simultaneously creating a space for southside businesses and bring the community together.”
To highlight this hall’s history, a picture of founder and builder, Elder Jordan, is prominently displayed before walking up the staircase towards the entrance. As a freed slave, he came to the St. Pete area in the 1920s, which was a hot spot that attracted big name performers. Unfortunately, there was no place for African Americans to see those acts.
In fact, major talents like Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, James Brown, and Nat King Cole played in the downtown area but African Americans weren’t allowed to cross 5th Avenue South in the evening hours. Elder Jordan decided to create a space for African Americans to see these acts, so he built a two-story building called the Jordan Dance Hall that included a large dance hall and space for individual black owned businesses downstairs.
Preserving the purpose of this establishment has been paramount to Farias and his partners, Ramon Hernandez and Vincent Jackson. Unfortunately, in the midst of all the work that has been put into this project, the Callaloo Group along with the entire country received the devastating news of Jackson’s tragic and unexpected passing on February 15th.
“The news hit our team hard since Vincent had been so pivotal at really getting this project off the ground” said Farias. He said that Vincent’s passing has made the Manhattan Casino that much more special. Vincent’s love of community and commitment to empowering local small businesses was evident in every phase of this project.
This can be seen in the creative plans already in place to display local art, artists, and businesses throughout the building. There are also future plans for the Manhattan Event Center to bring local events and talent into the building. It’s a place to celebrate all things St. Pete.
As the grand opening date quickly approaches, Farias says that the spirit of Elder Jordan and Vincent Jackson are cheering us on as they get ready to launch what they hope the south side and the entire St. Pete community can be proud of.
The two-story Historic Manhattan Casino, including the 22 South Food Hall, is located at 642 22nd Street South and will reopen mid-March. Be sure to visit their website and Facebook page to stay up-to-date on grand opening plans.
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