Another year, another restaurant attempting to make a go of it at the ill-fated location of 1101 First Avenue North closes its doors.
The Boundary — a very good, albeit disjointed restaurant featuring American(a) fusion food — is taking its fare to Gulfport, according to a Facebook post from owner (and my friend) Jim Wilson.
“So I guess you’ve been wondering where we have been,” Wilson wrote. “Well as of a bit more than a week ago I made decision to close The Boundary. For whatever reason it just did not do the business we had predicted and would not support a business of that size.”
Both Wilson and Chef Jason Kingsley know their stuff, but it really was a fool’s errand to think they could make a go of it at a location that has never really worked for whatever concern — restaurant (Grand Finale) or strip club (Bottoms to the Top Club) — called it home. In my estimation, Grand Finale was one of the four or five best restaurants EVER located in contemporary St. Petersburg and it cold not work, even after Chris Sherman, then the Tampa Bay Times’ food critic, hailed it as his favorite restaurant. If that resto could not make it work in that location, it’s doubtful any joint can.
The Boundary’s food was the most interesting and playful seen in St. Pete since Zach Gross started doling out his Dr. Pepper Ribs at Z Grille. But great food is not the only qualification for being a good restaurant. Ambiance and experience are such an important part of any meal out — and in these categories, The Boundary was noticeably deficient.
Take, for example, this single review on Yelp. “The inside of this former strip club turned restaurant looks like a trip to Ikea gone incredibly awry … and no it’s not some type of kitsch that they are trying to achieve, it’s just really poor spatial planning and interior design choices.” That comment, by the way, is charitable.
The Boundary did not work because it could not work. The building is poorly designed and terribly located. It is neither close to Beach Drive and downtown, nor far away enough, like Queens Head, to attract enough returning customers.
This should be the last straw for this location. If two hard workers like Wilson and Kingsley could not make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear, no one can.
Epilogue: While Wilson said that he is shutting The Boundary’s doors, he plans to open a new restaurant at the end of January in Gulfport.
“Not all is lost, though. I will reopen in the latter part of January in Gulfport’s Art District at 2930 Beach Blvd,” Wilson wrote on Facebook. “The restaurant will be named after a former restaurant I owned and loved, ‘The Dish Neighborhood Bistro.’ Jason (Kingsley) will still be with me as the chef and you will still see some of your favorites from The Boundary as well as Saturday & Sunday brunch, featuring some of your favorites from The Dish. If you have a purchased coupon such as CL deal, Deal Chicken or a Gift Certificate, it will be honored. Thanks for everything and we will see you soon.”