Prime ‘Primi’ location to become Jon La Budde’s newest venture, Reno’s

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Prominent St. Petersburg businessman Jon La Budde is jumping back into the restaurant biz.

Reno’s is slated to open on Labor Day, barring any hiccups.

La Budde’s vision is to create a mainstream “gastro pub” that includes a menu with a little something for everyone.

“We didn’t want to be a hamburger joint. We didn’t want to be a sushi restaurant. What we wanted to do was appeal to a broader spectrum of people,” La Budde said.

He’s keeping tight lips about menu specifics, but said he plans to bring back some popular dishes from his last restaurant endeavor, Johnny Reno’s. That restaurant closed last summer with the Pier after only being in business about two years.

Some items that may show up at Reno’s take two: chicken wings that are grilled, not fried, and a touch of barbeque.

La Budde plans to use high-end chefs who make meals from scratch.

“Nothing against Applebees or Bennigans, but we’re not pulling something that’s been flash-freezed. We’re going to have fresh products.”

Reno’s is replacing Primi’s Urban Café on 4th St. just north of Central Ave. The former Italian restaurant La Budde and his partners bought is getting a facelift.

La Budde plans to extend an existing bar all the way to the front window, knocking out that window and replacing it with a half wall. What does that mean? It’ll be kind of like a sidewalk café where patrons can walk up, sit down and not worry about whether or not they can bring Fido along.

On the inside, La Budde wants the atmosphere to be nice, but not too nice.

“It’s not going to be a white linen place, but it’s not going to be a dive.”

He wants to keep the Florida feel, so no need to toss the flip-flops here.

While La Budde is keeping Reno’s emphasis on food, he’s also got an eye on making the most of St. Pete’s not so new 3am drinking curfew.

There will be a full-service bar for the boozing night crowds and live music likely on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. On that detail, La Budde referred to himself as a “Capitalist Pig.”

“I refuse to pigeon hole myself into anything.”

La Budde had washed his hands of the hospitality business in the early 2000’s.

“For 13 or 14 years I worked every weekend and holiday.”

He jumped back in when he was approached by investors about Johnny Reno’s.

“After that closed, I had a whole restaurant in storage.”

La Budde hopes his eclectic food joint will do well, but if it doesn’t, “Shame on me.”

“I like competition. I’m not afraid of competition.”

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email