Falling in love can happen slowly or all at once. For Stephen Schrutt, his fall began with beach visits and waterfront views. Soon, he was head over heels in the local artistry, architecture and future city makings. ‘I really fell in love with this city, […] I felt like it was a really unique downtown since it was not as developed at the time, but it had the makings and I saw it”, Schrutt explains. As a Tampa local, it was common to consider St. Petersburg a beach town. “As I got older, I started coming here for baseball and art shows, dining experiences and concerts – it’s more than a beach town. I started seeing the downtown vibe grow and I saw it start to become a place I really enjoyed. It’s got a big city feel and there’s plenty to do and enough southern charm that really pulls together the neighborhood city we are.”
I hope we grow and expand, but I don’t think we should lose our neighborhood city identity. It’s nice we all acknowledge each other, it’s what the south is made up of.
Starting as a busboy, Schrutt had an on and off relationship with the hospitality industry. After trying it out in the job world, Schrutt realized he wanted to get back into hospitality so he could work for himself and create what he wanted. Originally part of a Tampa bar, The Avenue became Stephen’s first restaurant. “I really just wanted to do my own thing. I’m big into food and drinks, but not a nightclub kind of guy. It’s always a goal to provide a good atmosphere and great hospitality,” he says. Making sure guests leave with a smile after a good time is also a pivotal interest with any of Stephen’s restaurant locations, such as Kings.
Kings Street Food Corner offers guests an industrial old-time diner feel with an outdoor beer garden. Named after his bulldog, King, the restaurant offers a variety of specialty grilled cheeses, milkshakes, and hot dogs. “It’s been a really interesting couple of months for Kings with how new it is and, as with everything, we’re excited to watch the trends and see where it goes from here,” Schrutt explains. Both The Avenue and Kings boast a monthly special. For The Avenue, June’s burger of the month is nothing short of eclectic southern. Created by the new chef at Proper, also one of Stephen’s restaurants coming August 2016, the burger boasts a beer braised short stack rib set topped with carrot kale slaw and a side of corn salsa. As for Kings flavor of the month, sink your teeth into smoked chipotle gouda cheese, muenster cheese, tomato, onions and smoked brisket with your choice of side.
“We really look at anything that impacts or influences a style or taste around us so from sporting events, pop culture and even time of year, we’re always looking to do something we’ve never done,” states Schrutt. At Kings, you can expect the flavor of the month in anything from milkshakes hot dogs, grilled cheeses or even philly cheese steaks. “At The Avenue, we’re known for being what people can expect and with Kings, we’re just working on off the wall stuff where people can have a little more fun,” he states. Kings is gaining a following for their street food diner flare, and with more time ahead of them they don’t anticipate the menu to get any less exciting. lets have fun and make good food.
Going along with having fun and making good food, Stephen has another project for the St. Pete food scene and it’s nothing less than anticipated. Proper is a southern focused cocktail atmosphere offering more than just BBQ. Bringing in a chef from Texas with both experience and a love for smoking meats, the grand opening has our mouths watering for August to arrive. “We just catered the 97x BBQ with 1500 people, smoker and all. It was really fun to get the smoker out there and be a part of something that gives us exposure and a nice idea of what we’ll be in for,” he says. Building our nearly the entirety of the restaurant, Proper will boast a custom bar and furniture, new plumbing and gas, and even a new roof. “It’s really about the southern influence so we’ll have a weekend brunch and items that aren’t just smoked meats,” states Stephen. “At the end of the day, we just want to be better than ourselves. I want people to come here for what we do well and want you to come back for more.”
For me, it’s about the people that make this place home. I never want to move away. It’s really cool to see people I haven’t seen in ten years when they walk through one of my restaurants to catch up.
Growing up with other St. Pete restaurant owners, Stephen thinks it’s great to have more people coming over the bridge. “We have some really neat restaurants and plenty of things to do whether it’s festivals or parks, there’s always something happening and we’re right on the water,” he says.
Stephen’s Top 3 Recommended Things To Do:
- Take in our waterfront! From the bay to the beaches there’s something for everyone.
- Bike tour by day while taking in the local murals, breweries by night. Kick the evening off at Greenbench Brewery!
- Check out the food scene – it’s not just about the food, but the experience! You don’t want to miss Locale Market.
Stephen’s Secret Local Spot:
If there’s anything still hidden in growing St. Pete, it’s most likely Kings. It’s a great spot to hangout and grab some quality street food and is sure to keep you feeling like a local.