We often ask our social media audience what types of new businesses they’d like to see open in downtown St. Pete. And for the past few years, a bagel shop has been among the most requested. Pinellas County has great options outside of downtown St. Pete, such as St. Pete Bagel Co. and Clearwater Bagels, but no dedicated bagel shops currently exist downtown.
But we have great news! St Pete’s favorite local bagel shop, Pete’s General, and its beloved manatee mascot are bringing their fresh-made bagels and baked goods to the Grand Central District, on the outskirts of downtown St. Pete, as early as this summer. The business, which celebrated its second birthday last week, will open a second location at 2361 1st Avenue South.
At 1,500 square feet, the new space is bigger than the original Round Lake location but will maintain a similar feel with a small front of house complete with retail and baked goods on display. Instead of indoor seating, a fenced-in backyard and original mural by Florida artist Kate Lewis will offer a cozy, neighborhood place to stay and hang out just off of Central Avenue.
Pete’s offers seven varieties of bagels every morning – everything, onion, sesame, garlic, poppy, salt, and plain. Available toppings include plain cream cheese, scallion cream cheese, vegan cream cheese, house-made jam, peanut butter, and house-made hot honey.
There’s a menu of bagel sandwiches too, which includes favorites such as The Original Pete, consisting of cream cheese, lox, capers, dill, cucumbers, and pickled onions. The Millennial Pete is also popular, which includes avocado smash, everything seasoning, arugula, and pickled onions. Although the menu has only five selections right now, look for more items to be added in the future.
Owners Steven and Sara Peterman and their co-founder Erica Gonzalez have a big vision for the new space. “At Round Lake, we’ve really reached our capacity. When we sell out of bagels on Sunday, that’s actually all we can make,” explained Peterman. “We’re excited to have another place to be able to make more.”
The Grand Central location will become the main baking facility for both storefronts. With a larger prep area and more space to display an even greater selection of baked goods. The team plans to expand into wholesale too.
“We got a great feeling when we walked through the new space for the first time, and we are glad to have some room to grow too,” said Peterman. “Also, the owner of the building and I really connected. He understood our vision.”
“My wife and I moved to Kenwood a year ago, so we are always seeing so much happening on the strip here,” he continued. “We kept seeing this building when we were driving down 1st Avenue South. We like that it’s right off the beaten path.”
The original Pete’s General opened in April 2019 at 495 7th Avenue North on Round Lake in the Historic Uptown neighborhood. Peterman, who moved from New York City with his wife Sara, a St. Pete native, didn’t come to town with plans to open a bagel shop, but quickly fell in love with the area and knew he wanted to create something community-focused and food-based despite having no previous experience in food.
“I’ve always had a love for the retail and community spaces that people want to come back to,” he said. Soon, he was introduced to Sally Freeman and Erica Gonzalez, and the rest is St. Pete history.
“Bagels had been a thing that we hadn’t been able to find in St. Pete, and it’s something that everyone loves,” explained Peterman. “And the manatee has such a fun personality, people really connect with it.”
Despite the hardship of weathering the Covid-19 pandemic for most of its second year, the business has managed to stay creative and grow, maintaining its special reputation as a community hub and expanding its menu to include more baked goods and a selection of homemade cakes and pies.
“Once [the pandemic] started, it gave us a lot of time to reflect and figure out what was what and what was the most important to our customers and community,” emphasized Peterman. “We’re excited to [open the Grand Central location] now that we know what we are and what we want to be.”
“We definitely have some surprises that we’re working on. There will be some fun things here. It will feel similar but will have its own vibe.”
Pete’s General is expected to open this summer at 2361 1st Avenue South in the Grand Central District. In the meantime, check out their original location 495 7th Avenue North in Historic Uptown for the freshest bagels and baked goods. To stay up to date on grand opening plans, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram .