George Sayegh and his wife, Debbie fondly remember growing up in Brooklyn, NY, and getting delicious food at neighborhood bodegas.
There was the Jamaican bodega, the Puerto Rican bodega and the Cuban bodega.
“In New York, bodegas are corner grocery stores. Small and family run,” George Sayegh said. “You could buy anything from cigarettes to diapers, but you could also get good food there.”
While there will be no cigarettes or diapers, the Sayegh’s hope to bring a Latin bodega to the area in St. Pete that most reminds them of home — the Edge District on Central Avenue.
By the end of January “Bodega on Central” is expected to open at 1120 Central Ave., across the street from Ricky P’s.
Bodega on Central will specialize in Cuban sandwiches, Cuban coffee and ceviche platters to go along with daily specials. Debbie Sayegh said it is important for their customers to have locally produced food that is healthy and can be made quickly.
“We make everything here fresh ourselves,” Debbie Sayegh said. “We don’t have any freezers, we’re not freezing stuff. We are making it everyday. We want you to (be able) to get in and out fast, but we want you to get a good, healthy meal, too."
Bodega on Central will have a walk-up window where you’ll be able to order your favorite Latin food that is made from products almost all locally grown. There will be a back patio with covered, outdoor seating and three or four tables in front of Bodega on the sidewalk.
The small space, which was less than 500 square feet before they added bathrooms, allows Debbie and George to get to know their local customers.
“We’re opening for the people that live around the corner,” Debbie Sayegh said. “I want to know everybody that comes walking up to the window.”
This won’t be the first Cuban-inspired restaurant the Sayegh’s have owned. In Brooklyn, they owned a Cuban coffee shop, a Latin club and a fine-dining American cuisine restaurant.
While it did not bring in the revenues of the club or the restaurant, running the Cuban coffee shop was the most fun for the Sayegh’s.
“We did the fine dining with the valet service, piano player,” George Sayegh said. “This is just going to be fun.”
"The Cuban coffee shop that we did in New York was fun," Debbie Sayegh said. "We made less money, but at the end of the day it didn't matter."
One thing you won’t find often at Bodega on Central will be Mexican-inspired food.
“The least thing that will influence our food is probably Mexican,” George Sayegh said. “Our Latin food will be more (inspired) from Caribbean islands. You’ve got plenty of places to go for good tacos in St. Pete already.”
No official opening date has been set but George and Debbie said Bodega on Central would certainly be open before the end of the month. To keep up on the official opening date, you can ‘like’ Bodega on Central on Facebook.