Opening Date Revealed for Downtown St. Pete's Dr. BBQ

Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe standing in front of the Dr. BBQ mural by Cam Parker (aka Painkiller Cam)

It’s been over two long years since we first broke the news of Dr. BBQ coming to Downtown St Pete. And now the day has finally come. We have an opening date — October 17th.

Located in the trendy EDGE District of St. Petersburg at 1101 1st Avenue South, Dr. BBQ is a New American smokehouse that celebrates regional and international ingredients by combining diverse flavors from around the world into classic barbecue dishes with a twist.

Dr. BBQ’s menu features dishes influenced by barbecue techniques seen not only across the country, but also across the globe. Diners can expect a range of flavors, including sauces like Korean gochujang and North African harissa. While Dr. BBQ will have a wide variety of meat including Certified Angus Beef and Compart Duroc pork, the menu will also be inclusive for guests of all diets, offering vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes beyond the usual salad and mac and cheese.

Personally, we cannot wait to try the Pastrami Sandwich, featuring thick-cut Certified Angus Beef pastrami and house-pickled mustard seed served on Texas Toast. Other menu items that stand out are the Burnt Ends, Pork Brisket, and Go-Chu Jang Sticky Ribs.

The brand-new smokehouse is helmed by acclaimed pitmaster and Food Network star Ray “Dr. BBQ” Lampe, in collaboration with co-owners Roger and Suzanne Perry of the popular Tampa brunch staple, Datz.

However, Lampe and the Perry’s aren’t the only seasoned veterans behind Dr. BBQ. They have recruited a team of all-stars to help run the show. Lee Jasper is the twenty-nine-year old lead pitmaster at Dr. BBQ, spearheading the rare model J&R Oyler smoker that runs twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week and is capable of cooking 1500 pounds of brisket at once. Having been mentored by legendary Texas pitmaster Roy Perez, Lee’s experience comes from years tending to meat at Kreuz Market—first in Lockhart, Texas, then in Bryan, Texas when Lee was asked to help open Kreuz’s second location.

Jon Griffiths, Corporate Beverage Director at the Datz Restaurant Group, is in charge of Dr. BBQ’s beverage program, which is heavy on Lampe’s drink of choice: whiskey. To ensure that the restaurant receives a unique blend of whiskies, Datz Restaurant Group partnered with Jack Daniel’s whiskey along with bourbon makers Buffalo Trace, Knob Creek, and Russell’s Reserve to source from private, hand-selected barrels that are exclusive to the restaurant group for Dr. BBQ.

Signature drinks include the Jack N’ Cola, which is made with Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey and house-made cola, the Backyard Margarita, which contains Espolon tequila and triple sec poured in a can of Mountain Dew with hot cheetos, and a pale ale lager brewed exclusively for Dr. BBQ by the local St. Pete beer nerds at Green Bench Brewing.

The food and drink won’t be the only thing to take your breath away. The restaurant itself is a sight to see. Dr. BBQ occupies over 9,000 square feet in a former steel-casting factory. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating for approximately 200 people, spaced out across two patios, two massive two-story timber bars, and two floors. 

The design features reclaimed barn wood on the bar and ceiling, smoky brick, concrete floors, and galvanized reclaimed roofing. Real saddle bar stools, coasters made of hand-stamped cardboard box pieces, and antiques throughout the space add a vintage vibe to the restaurant. An open kitchen creates community in the space, allowing diners to see and interact with both front-of-house and back-of-house staff. 

Are you planning a visit yet? Upon arriving, just look for the bright, vertical “Dr. BBQ” sign on the side of the restaurant. Or better yet, in true St. Pete fashion, look for the iconic Dr. BBQ mural. To enhance the exterior of the restaurant, Dr. BBQ partnered with Tampa-based artist and aspiring tattoo artist, Cam Parker (aka Painkiller Cam), to create a 35x55-foot mural of Ray’s face. The mural encapsulates Ray, the mastermind behind the smokehouse, in front of an American flag. Shadows and smoky drawings, including American icons, are worked into the flag to represent Dr. BBQ’s inspiration. In addition to the larger mural, Parker worked on smaller murals both inside and outside of the restaurant.

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Dr BBQ is located at 1101 1st Avenue South in Downtown St. Pete. Be sure to follow Dr. BBQ on Facebook, Instagram, and their website to stay up-to-date on all of the Grand Opening festivities.