A vibrant new pub is bringing trends from down under to downtown Saint Petersburg. Replacing the old Fortunato’s Italian Kitchen on Central Avenue, The Crafty Squirrel serves artisan pizza, over 60 beers, and Aussie-inspired “teapot cocktails” meant to be shared within groups.
This isn’t owner Josh Cameron’s first venture in downtown St Pete. After running a few bars back home, the Aussie purchased The Oyster Bar, which shares a wall with The Crafty Squirrel, in 2013. “The Oyster Bar ended up more of a restaurant than a bar,” he says, so when Fortunato's became available, Cameron jumped on the opportunity.
Some $800,000 later, Cameron’s 3,000-square-foot venue is entirely renovated, featuring new booths, elongated pub tables, a bar, 16 TVs, and handcrafted metal stools. Industrial-style garage doors open right onto Central Ave. Through their renovations, the crew tore down two layers of wall, revealing the building’s original 120-year-old brick walls and 105-year-old Palace Ice Cream Parlor mural. “We went right down to the dirt and built the space completely back up,” he says.
It’s fair to say The Crafty Squirrel is unlike anything else on Central. Artisan pizza is common enough but if you’ve never heard of teapot cocktails, you’re probably not alone.
“That’s a thing we used to do back home in Australia,” Cameron says, explaining the trend of quite literally serving a cocktail out of a teapot. “It's a nice way to encourage group sharing.” The Crafty Squirrel menu features 12 teapots, from the gin-based Kiwi Cooler, to the tequila-based Hide the Nuts. The menu also features 10 long island iced teas, eight cocktails, a selection of wines, and shooters. A taco section is soon to come.
Located at 259 Central Avenue, the venue is open daily from 11 a.m. to 3 a.m.