Ask the Locals: Nathan & Sara Stonecipher, St. Pete entrepreneurs

Posted by Heidi Kurpiela on Thu, Mar 20, 2014 at 2:23 PM

PHOTO BY HEIDI KURPIELA
  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

St. Petersburg natives Nathan and Sara Stonecipher are poster children for the city’s indie business scene.
Sara, a former advertising stylist for Dillard’s southeast headquarters, put the 600 block of downtown St. Pete on the radar of hipsters, artists and fashionistas when she opened MISRED Outfitters four years ago on Central Avenue. The clothing boutique carries recycled, reconstructed and vintage pieces, including Sara’s own line of salvaged designs, MISRED Black Label.
In September of 2013, her husband Nathan helped enliven downtown’s Edge District when he and business partner Steven Duffy opened Green Bench Brewing Co. in a converted warehouse in the burgeoning district. Named after the thousands of green benches that lined Central Avenue in the early 1900s, the 15-barrel brew house made a memorable first impression thanks to its distinct microbrews, 1,500-square-foot tasting room and 6,000-square-foot beer garden, complete with live music, lawn chairs, horseshoes and a walk-up window where you can order a quick round without having to leave your friends.

Favorite date night restaurant: Alésia. Sara: “It’s French Vietnamese. The inside of the restaurant is beautiful, crisp and white. It transports you to another place.”

Where they meet for drinks after work: The Ale and the Witch. Sara: “We like the private feel of the courtyard. [Owner] Brett [Andress] is so deliberate about music choices and what beer is on tap. The details he puts into the place really show through.”

Where they go to unwind: Pass-a-Grille. Sara: “My family has an old Florida house in Pass-A-Grille, so it’s where we go to get out of town. Pass-A-Grille is a great place to hide. We also appreciate the fact that it’s not stacked wall-to-wall with condos. Things run at a slower pace out there. It’s low key.”

Where they score vintage duds: Pasadena Community Church Thrift Shop. Sara: “Church-run thrift shops are filed with untold treasures. Pasadena has a big one. All these little old ladies give away their prized possessions. I’ve found some amazing vintage dresses in church thrift shops.”

Best late-night grub: Taco Bus. Sara: “It’s our stopover on the way home. It’s open late and the pork quesadillas always hit the spot.”

Best place to eavesdrop: Green Bench Brewing. Nathan: “The beer garden gets a hugely diverse group of people. You get families, co-workers, professionals and artists. You get 21-year-olds and 90-year-olds. My grandfather loves the beer garden and he’s 101.”

Best excuse to get gussied up: The Florida Orchestra. Nathan: “Having the orchestra here is such a gift. It’s so special that our city houses a professional orchestra that’s extremely talented. They’re doing a good job of reaching younger audiences with their Beatles and Pink Floyd rock series.”

Best live theater: freeFall Theatre. Nathan: “You really feel like you’re part of the live experience. The company still has a grass-roots feel to it and the atmosphere is intimate. You’re never further than five rows from the stage.”

Best adrenaline rush: Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Nathan: “I get caught up in the excitement. It’s fun to look at our city through the eyes of someone who might be seeing it for the first time. We tend to take it for granted, but something like the Indy car races force you to see it differently.”

Best picnic spot: Vinoy Park. Sara: “We have a certain tree by the red sculpture out on the point that sticks out into the water.”

The place where everybody knows their name: Banyan Café. Nathan: “They have the best breakfast sandwich in St. Pete.” Sara: “It’s become our institution. You walk in and you feel like it’s your very own coffee shop.”

The closest you’ll get to hearing live music in your living room: The Hideaway Café. Nathan: “People go there to listen to music, not have conversations around the music. It’s very homey. It’s very intimate. It doesn’t get any better than what you’ll hear there.”

Best greasy spoon: Ted Peters Smoked Fish. Sara: “My sister will get off the plane from New York and it’s her first stop in St. Pete. They smoke the fish in this little shack out back. They put Velveeta cheese on your burgers and root beer in your frosty mug. The place is just epic.”

Best place time forgot: St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club. Sara: “St. Pete has long been associated with retirees and now you’ve got this great updated shuffleboard court that’s kind of flipped the city’s reputation on its head. We remember when nobody went to the shuffleboard court and now it’s this cool, hip place.”

The three things every tourist must bring to St. Pete: A beer koozie, good walking shoes and a camera.

Best reason to ditch your Kindle: Haslam's Book Store. Nathan: “My parents and grandparents used to take me here as a kid and it was always an adventure. You could spend days in there. It’s not like walking into some sterile bookstore. It’s got some grunge to it. There are cats walking around the place!”

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