New venue aims to be a ‘Catalyst’ for change on the Deuces

On June 30, entrepreneurs Jeffrey Copeland and his business partner Jason Bryant will open a new food and live entertainment venue on The Deuces called The Catalyst.


ST. PETERSBURG — It started in 2008 when Carolyn Brayboy began healing from cancer treatment after beating the disease the year before. She went with her husband, Elihu Brayboy, to hear a preacher he loved who came to the States once a year.

“He wasn’t her favorite,” Elihu Brayboy said. “She thought he was a bit too longwinded, but he was someone I really loved to listen to.”

So, they went down to Bradenton to hear him speak. During the message, he walked over to the couple, and Brayboy assumed he would say something to him.

“But he looked past me and right at my wife,” he recalled. “He told her that God told him he had a verse for her — Isaiah 61:4. Then, he went back up to the pulpit to finish his sermon.”

The couple studied the verse all the way home and learned that it was all about renewing, rebuilding and restoring the old.

“We had no idea what it meant,” Brayboy said.

That is until they drove down 22nd Street South.

“Buildings were boarded up on both sides of the street,” he stated. “When my wife and I met back in the seventh grade, the area was so vital. We knew at the moment it was what God was telling us. He wanted us to help restore the area.”

And that was the beginning, with the couple buying their first building, 1025 22nd St. S. Since then, the Brayboys have gone on to buy several buildings in the area affectionately known as the Deuces, a once thriving center of Black life that boasted more than 100 Black-owned or operated businesses that serviced the African-American community.

Today the Brayboys are still at the center of bringing the area back to life with 22nd Street’s latest edition. The Catalyst will be a food and live entertainment venue located in the couple’s old restaurant space, Chief’s Creole Café, a restaurant that had been a staple in the community for 10 years before closing in April.

‘I remember the people, the businesses, the music and entertainment,’ Jeffrey Copeland said about The Deuces.

Entrepreneurs Jeffrey Copeland and his business partner Jason Bryant will have the Catalyst’s official opening on June 30. It will feature live music, karaoke, a cigar bar and hookah, as well as a partnership with Sid’s Jamaican Café to operate the restaurant inside the new entertainment space.

Copeland said he is excited to work with the Brayboys and become a tenant and new business owner in the area.

“I really commend them for what they are doing and the opportunities that they are allowing for other businesses to come in and help revitalize,” he said. “I am excited to be a part of that.”

He said he remembers the area too, especially the live music residents could experience on any given night.

“My father was a preacher and an entrepreneur there,” Copeland said. “He was the president of the Ministerial Alliance and started a street ministry on 22nd Street. I remember the people, the businesses, the music and entertainment.”

Longing to bring that atmosphere back to the area, Copeland and his partners decided it was time to join the Brayboys and pledge their commitment to bringing it back to life for the Black community.

“We decided on the name Catalyst because that’s what we want this place to be,” he said. “We want it to be all about lifting people up and lifting our community up. We want to make it vibrant again with people being able to walk out their front door and hear great live music, something that hasn’t been there since the 60s.”

As for the restaurant, Copeland said it will feature traditional Jamaican cuisine, including oxtails, beef patties, jerk chicken and rice and peas.

Brayboy said he is excited to see the Catalyst come to life because it’s just another indication that he and his wife understood God’s assignment.

“My wife has been cancer free for years, totally discharged,” he said. “And I believe it’s because we were obedient to what God wanted us to do.”

For the latest information on The Catalyst and its upcoming grand opening, visit its Facebook page or Instagram at @catalystonthedueces.

Contact Bryant at if you are interested in renting the space for events and private parties.

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