A popular pan-Asian eatery is coming to Downtown St. Pete at the base of one of downtown’s newest buildings. Bento Café, a Gainesville-based chain best known for their Bento boxes and boba tea, will soon open at 330 Third Street South, in the base of the AER apartment building. The new eatery will occupy 2,700 square feet of space, leaving 2,000 square feet of retail to be occupied by another soon-to-be-announced tenant.
Since opening in May of 2016, the retail space at the AER building has largely sat vacant, often being used for storage during construction. With retail space at a premium throughout Downtown St. Pete, it seemed odd that this prime space was remaining vacant. But come to find out, the developers were just waiting for the right tenant.
Bento Café, which plans to open in the spring of 2018, will feature 80 seats along with outdoor sidewalk tables. Their menu, which features their signature Bento box, a tray consisting of an entrée meat, white rice, lo mein noodles, string beans, and a ginger salad, will be available for lunch, dinner, and take-out. Outside of the Bento boxes, the café also serves rice and noodle bowls, sushi, and sashimi bowls.
The location of the restaurant seeks to take advantage of the explosive building boom currently taking place in Downtown St. Pete. Not only is it close to the growing USF St. Pete campus and the downtown core; but also, over the past few years over 1,250 residential units have been built or are under construction within two blocks.
The Downtown St. Pete location will join restaurants in Gainesville, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Orlando, and South Florida in becoming the 11th restaurant in the Bento Café chain. In addition, the company is also currently scouting the area for two restaurant locations in Tampa.
For more information on Bento Café, visit their website.