Despite Coronavirus, Florida Welcomed New Restaurants In 2020

·5 min read

FLORIDA — It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Florida’s restaurants, despite the coronavirus pandemic. While many eateries and bars closed their doors for good because of COVID-19 and the economic hardship that came with it, a number of new concepts opened. Here are some of them.

Tampa and St. Petersburg

Valhalla Bakery: The highly anticipated opening of this Orlando-based vegan bakery’s St. Pete location took place during the pandemic.

Fly Bar + Restaurant: The original Fly Bar closed in 2018 to the disappointment of many. This popular cocktail bar and restaurant reopened on West Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa in September.

Grassroots: This popular St. Petersburg kava and kratom bar opened two new Tampa locations in Ybor City and Seminole Heights in late 2020.

This microbrewery opened its doors in St. Petersburg in December. (Tiffany Razzano)
This microbrewery opened its doors in St. Petersburg in December. (Tiffany Razzano)

Grand Central Brewhouse: This St. Pete microbrewery opened in the former Taco Bus space in December. A connected restaurant and karaoke bar with private rooms, Lala, will open early this year.

Jotoro: This Mexican restaurant took over an old Hooters restaurant at Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf.

Rome + Fig Global Bistro: This North Hyde Park eatery featuring globally inspired dishes opened in July.

New World Brewery: This Ybor City icon closed in 2017 and found new life despite the pandemic when it reopened in 2020 near Tampa’s Busch Boulevard.

Pinoy: Downtown St. Pete’s first Filipino restaurant opened over the summer.

Casa Santo Stefano: The newest concept from the Columbia Restaurant Group nods to Ybor City’s Sicilian roots.

Mary Margaret’s Olde Irish Tavern: This traditional Irish pub opened in St. Petersburg just before the pandemic began affecting life in Florida.

Hotel Haya: This gorgeous hotel opened in Ybor City in September. It also opened two restaurants, Flor Fina and Café Quiquiriqui, headed by the man who's been recognized globally as the "Godfather of Nuevo Latino Cuisine.”

Hip Hop Crab Bar: This seafood restaurant near Tampa’s Busch Gardens opened in September.

Urban Stillhouse: This massive cocktail bar and restaurant — boasting 16,000 square feet — opened in St. Petersburg’s Warehouse Arts District in August.

Italy Bottega: This market and café has brought a taste of Italy to St. Petersburg since opening this summer.

Water + Flour: South Tampa’s Ciccio Water rebranded with a new name, concept and menu in May.

Teak: When the St. Pete Pier opened over the summer, it introduced several new restaurants to the community, including this fine-dining restaurant.

Doc Ford’s Rum Bar and Grill: Also part of the St. Pete Pier, this concept from author Randy Wayne White has been bustling since its summer opening.

Wild Child opened in St. Petersburg during the pandemic. (Tiffany Razzano)
Wild Child opened in St. Petersburg during the pandemic. (Tiffany Razzano)

Wild Child: In August, this hip, tropical restaurant and cocktail bar opened with great success in St. Petersburg despite the pandemic.

Sarasota and Bradenton

The Point: This three-floor waterfront bar and restaurant opened in Osprey in the fall.

Riviera Mediterranean Grill: This fresh, upscale Mediterranean fusion eatery in Lakewood Ranch opened in October.

Seabar: This new restaurant from the owners of Gulf Gate Food + Beer opened nearby in the Gulf Gate area in November.

Bistro: The Sarasota Art Museum debuted a new eatery, simply called the Bistro, when it reopened in October.

The Ringling Grillroom: Another Sarasota museum - the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota – also introduced a new restaurant concept this fall.

Cottonmouth Southern Soul Kitchen: Located in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts, offers casual but tasty Southern fare.

Pesto Bistro and Wine Bar: This new concept in Bradenton serving Italian-, Mediterranean- and French-inspired dishes opened in September.

Blasé Southern Style: This Sarasota favorite rebranded and reopened in October.

Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill: This Tampa-based chain opened a new location on the Manatee River in Ellenton this spring.

Waters Edge Winery: This wine-centric franchise prepared to open its new Sarasota location at the end of the year.

Floridays Woodfire Grill & Bar: This new Bradenton restaurant, which opened in September, serves up seafood and Southern favorites.

Several new restaurants opened in downtown Sarasota in 2020. (Tiffany Razzano)
Several new restaurants opened in downtown Sarasota in 2020. (Tiffany Razzano)

Lucile Pizza & Wine Bar: This mostly plant-based pizza and wine bar opened in downtown Sarasota in December.

McGrath’s Irish Ale House: This Irish-inspired eatery opened in Lakewood Ranch at the end of 2020.

Daiquiri Deck: In March, this regional chain opened a Bradenton Beach location in March.

Fat Donkey: This colorful ice cream shop opened in downtown Sarasota this fall.

Mean Deans Local Kitchen: This Bradenton restaurant, which serves comfort food with a twist, opened in November.

Bamboozer: This hip frozen cocktail bar opened in downtown Bradenton in July.

South Florida

Café Kush: The latest concept from Matt Kuscher opened in the MiMo district in December.

Hachidori Ramen Bar: This fun Japanese-inspired ramen restaurant in Miami opened in October.

Wave: This seafood restaurant and outdoor beachfront club opened at 1 Beach Club this fall.

Over Under: This new bar and restaurant, which opened in Miami this summer, serves Florida-inspired cuisine.

2 Korean Girls: This fast-casual Korean eatery opened in Coconut Grove in December.

Michael Mina opened his first-ever Greek restaurant in Miami this year. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Michael Mina opened his first-ever Greek restaurant in Miami this year. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Ornos Estiatorio: Michael Mina opened his first Greek restaurant this fall at the Aventura Mall.

Planta Queen: This vegan Asian restaurant – the sister of the popular Planta South Beach – opened in the revamped CocoWalk this fall.

Doral Yard: This community gathering concept and food hall opened in downtown Doral this fall.

Barbarella: In May, this bistro opened at Dadeland Mall with a one-year lease. Barbarella’s owners hope to turn the location into their permanent home.

Miami’s Vice Canteen: Paying homage to Miami Beach’s past, this new bar and restaurant at The Lincoln Eatery immerses itself in Caribbean and Miami culture.

Mayami Mexicantina: This authentic Mexican restaurant and bar opened in Wynwood in November.

Itamae: After success in a Design District food hall, this Japanese-Peruvian concept now has its own standalone restaurant.

The Gramercy: This American brassiere opened in Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile in December.

Public Square: This contemporary American grill is the latest concept from Grove Bay Hospitality Group.

El Bagel: This popular Wynwood food truck opened its first brick-and-mortar location in the MiMo district this spring.

Are we missing a new Florida restaurant or bar that opened in 2020? Email Patch at

This article originally appeared on the Sarasota Patch

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