BY HOLLY KESTENIS, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG – If you’re taste buds are craving the Cajun flavors of New Orleans, you’re in luck. Chief’s Creole Café is having its grand opening today Sat., Nov. 1 from 10:30-9 p.m.
The Brayboys over the last few years have taken up the role of entrepreneurs, buying up property in south St. Petersburg and renovating the buildings to house small businesses in the area. Their latest endeavor is that of Chief’s Creole Café and it promises to deliver on flavor.
“I was raised on that cooking,” said Elihu Brayboy, who along with his wife Carolyn, have salvaged recipes from the good ole’ days of steaming hot jambalaya trying to bring back the type of flavor that Brayboy remembers from his childhood. “When my mother passed away, I didn’t realize that everybody didn’t eat like that,” he said.
Brayboy emphasized their food is not soul food, and listed off some of the home cooking that will be available in a few weeks. Their signature dish will be a Creole gumbo complete with seafood, sausage and chicken, with other gumbo selections available for the more picky palate.
Talks are in the works to import crawfish when in season from Louisiana. Brayboy plans to offer it up in a boil, like locals do to crab, including corn, potatoes and shrimp.
“We have a beautiful patio seating area where we can put the tables out there and have an all you can eat situation,” he said emphasizing his willingness to cater to special events.
The property sits on the corner of 22nd Street and 9th Avenue South, an area Brayboy knows hasn’t been popular since its heyday when it was “the place to be.” The area has been plagued with crime, neglect and a shifting of priorities.
But as you pull up to the coral building with its outdoor patio, those old time memories when bands used to frequent the area and the Sidney Harden corner grocery, which incidentally is the restaurants new home, used to be the place to be, come flooding back and you begin to feel the neighborhood coming alive again.
“We’ve been working on this for almost two years,” he said, “so to us it’s like months delayed.”
The inside will instantly astound patrons. Vintage artwork hangs on the walls, while granite tops every table. Twelve foot tin ceilings speak to the historical significance of the place, originally constructed in 1939. “You really got to put your eyes on it,” Brayboy said. “It’s a wow factor.”
The pergola leads from Chief’s Creole Café to the Brayboy owned ice cream parlor next door. So after a little sizzling hot, patrons can cool down with a scoop of tasty ice cream.
He hopes the neighborhood and the St. Petersburg community will recognize the hard work that has gone into every detail of the restaurant. From rehabbing the building, to furnishing its interior, to allocating a menu and picking the staff, the Brayboys have dedicated countless hours on creating an inviting New Orleans type ambiance that is sure to please.
Come on down sometime today Sat., Nov. 1 from 10:30-9 p.m. for Chief’s Creole Café’s grand opening and enjoy an authentic Creole cultural dining experience. You can’t miss the impeccably decorated coral building at the corner of 901 22nd St. S.
For the latest menus and news, check them out on Facebook at Chief’s Creole Café.