Iconic St. Pete music venue closes after 35 years of business
After 35 years of serving drinks and showcasing local music, the beloved Ringside Cafe has finally rung its last bell. The bar, a chameleon of location changes, has finally faced its curtain call.
Ringside’s legacy began on bustling Fourth Street, reigning for 25 years before bowing out for a Trader Joe’s in 2013. A downtown relocation followed, near Jannus Live, but alas, another venue claimed its spot in 2021, making way for the groovy ‘Good Night John Boy.’ Undeterred, Ringside found refuge a block away on First Avenue, across from Williams Park, where it briefly revived in July 2022.
As the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve 2023, Ringside’s final notes faded. Rising costs, owner Greg Pugh explains, squeezed their commitment to affordable drinks and live music without cover charges. The downtown St. Petersburg crowd at their third location also skewed younger, not quite matching Ringside’s usual vibe. In a world where most bars boast $15 cocktails and band cover charges, Ringside’s unique charm simply couldn’t compete.
Though its doors are closed, Ringside’s legacy lives on in the countless memories it birthed. For 35 years, it was the stage for local talent, the haven for friendly gatherings, and the backdrop for laughter, tears, and countless stories. While its absence leaves a void, the music it fostered still reverberates in the hearts of those who loved it.