Locale Market offers sneak peek, opens Wednesday

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In the middle of the hustle of Tuesday’s last-minute preparations, Michael Mina is finally ready for the big show.

The James Beard Award-winning Chef gave the press a sneak preview of Locale Market, the newest high-profile tenant at SUNDIAL, St. Petersburg’s upscale retail, dining and entertainment complex.

Set to open from 3-9 p.m. Wednesday, the highly anticipated 20,000-square-foot two-story unique combination farm-to-table restaurant and gourmet grocery store, led by Mina and nationally renowned Chef and author Don Pintabona.

Fashioned after European markets, Locale — located in SUNDIAL’s Northwest corner — will “balance the artful world of creative inspiration with grounded products for everyday needs,” according to Mina.

“Everyone has anticipated this opening,” says Bill Edwards, CEO of The Edwards Group, which owns SUNDIAL. “St. Petersburg is ready to embrace Locale Market. We’re proud to offer a world-class culinary marketplace to our world-class city and those who discover it.”

The renaissance in sustainable and organic farming allows Locale to provide St. Petersburg residents and visitors a selection of seasonal items from both Florida and throughout the U.S.

Locale will highlight fresh, hand-selected ingredients — directly from both the farm and boat— as well as a variety of “thoughtfully sourced” artisan products in all.

Amid the rows of gourmet and organic groceries, there sits 11 separate open-air kitchens and cook stations, including a full service delicatessen, fish and seafood section, wine bar, coffee bar, dessert bar and bakery.

Each station is staffed with a crew of expert local chefs, giving customers a chance to observe continual food preparation while shopping.

In addition to a gourmet and organic grocery section, Locale has a wide assortment of freshly prepared goods, all created on site, including a pasta kitchen and an ice cream shop where liquid nitrogen freezes products instantly. There are stations for cheeses, gourmet burgers, fresh seafood ceviche, rotisserie chicken and cold-pressed juices and sauces.

Made-to-order, semi-prepared and cooked food enable Locale Market to combine convenience cuisine with fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Every corner has a casual farm-to-table feel, combining a touch of Mina’s California roots, alongside Pintabona’s Italian essence.

In the upstairs space is a wine/beer bar, which Mina says reflects the locally sourced philosophy of the rest of Locale. Many of the beverages originate close by, from the St. Petersburg, Tampa Bay and Central Florida regions. The final selection will ultimately represent as many as 75 small breweries from various parts of the United States and the world.

The Market stocks more than 100 wines from all over the world, with nearly all of them retailing under $45 a bottle. Locale will also offer handcrafted cocktails with wines, vermouths, Italian Amaro liqueurs, sake and shochu. Locale bar cocktails are made with juices squeezed fresh daily.

Mina founded the Mina Group Inc., a San Francisco-based restaurant management company concentrating on upscale, innovative dining experiences.  Mina is an inductee of the James Beard Foundation’s “Who’s Who of Food and Beverage,” and recognized by Bon Appétit as a Chef of the Year. He also received a Food Arts Silver Spoon Award, San Francisco Magazine Chef of the Year, and the International Food and Beverage Forum’s Restaurateur of the Year.

“What a thrill to introduce Locale Market to St. Petersburg,” Mena said of Locale. “We were inspired to marry Don’s New York edge with my California sensibilities; you’ll see this carried throughout all elements of the market from the design to the product to service.”

For Pintabona, Locale represents both the highlight of a thirty-year career, as well as a return to the Tampa Bay area. Born a first-generation Italian in Oceanside, New York, he began his culinary journey working at Grand Union Supermarket for his father’s tutelage; the experience exposed him to all aspects of the food business.

Graduating with a business degree from the University of South Florida, Pintabona drove a taxi while he attended The Culinary Institute of America, graduating with honors. He has also apprenticed under chefs like Charlie Palmer and Daniel Boulud in New York, Georges Blanc in Vonnas, France, and Kiyomi Nishitani in Osaka, Japan.

“Together with the Edwards Group,” Pintabona said, “we couldn’t be more excited to share our culinary marketplace with an area that understands fresh ingredients, unique experiences and community gatherings.”

Starting Wednesday, Locale hours will be Monday – Saturday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday Noon – 8 p.m. Valet parking is available at the Second Street North entrance; garage parking (located at 117 2nd St. N.) and metered street parking. Both garage and valet parking are free with validation. Sundial Lifestyle Center is at 179 Second Ave. N., St. Petersburg

For more information, visit www.LocaleGourmetMarket.com. Follow Locale Market on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LocaleMarketStPete, Twitter @LocaleMarket_FL and Instagram at LocaleMarket_FL.

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing and management experience, Phil produced material for both print and online, in addition to founding HRNewsDaily.com. His broad range includes covering news, local government and culture reviews for Patch.com, technical articles and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine and advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as a contributor and production manager for SaintPetersBlog since 2013. He lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul and can be reached at phil@floridapolitics.com and on Twitter @PhilAmmann.