by Emma Davis and Kiera Geraghty | July 23, 2020

Mask Up & Head Out: 10 Exciting New Openings Around the State

From sensational sweets to storied cocktails, check out the latest in Florida businesses


Bringing a business vision to life is challenging even when the world isn’t in the midst of a global pandemic. But in true Floridian fashion, these entrepreneurs saw opportunities for innovation and growth where others might have seen insurmountable obstacles. We’ve put together a list of new restaurants, hotels, entertainment districts and more that you’ll want to add to your road trip stops when you’re ready for some cabin fever relief. From Tallahassee to The Keys, here’s a list of new local haunts to explore all around the state (while donning your favorite mask, of course).


Drew Stuerman uses potatoes in his donuts for added flavor and texture. Photography courtesy of Halo Potato Donuts



Two-and-a half years ago, Drew Stuerman was about to celebrate the milestone of graduating from the University of Florida with a business administration degree. The problem was he had a pile of student loans and no plan. Stuerman reflected on his favorite glazed and creme-stuffed snacks from his childhood in Dayton, Ohio, and decided Gainesville was lacking in one thing: donuts. Months of YouTube tutorials and hundreds of chewy, flattened and misshapen donuts later, Stuerman perfected his potato donut recipe and opened up Halo Potato Donuts food truck. A year later in November 2019, he opened his first brick-and-mortar location with great success, proven by the five-hour wait lines stretching down Main Street. The donuts are made with wheat flour, but Stuerman adds potatoes for flavor and texture. There’s sure to be a selection for everyone with flavors from “OG” vanilla to maple bacon, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for limited-time flavors like strawberry daiquiri and not-so-thin mint.

Bar 1903 transforms the historic Walker Library into a cozy cocktail lounge. Photography by Pablo Gabes

BAR 1903


A far cry from the Late Night Library of 1990’s Tallahassee, Bar 1903 brings an element of sophistication and lore to every pour. Located inside the historic Walker Library in downtown Tallahassee with over a century of stories behind its towering columns, Bar 1903 is reminiscent of a classic novel. With an emphasis on the history of mixology, this Tallahassee treasure offers cocktails spanning 160 years of alcoholic beverages. By sourcing from its own local Liberty Farm, this storied lounge pairs craft cocktails with a wide range of small plates. Currently, thirsty Tallahasseans can pick up drinks and food items curbside only, but when Bar 1903 fully reopens, expect a quiet, cozy feel in its 36-seat dining room. Owner Jesse Edmunds wants people to experience history through this special wine-and-dine spot. “We tried to make the renovations line up with its original style and very carefully juxtapose a little bit of modern on top of it,” Edmunds wrote in an email. “We’re not going for a period bar or anything pretentious, where everyone’s coming in with suspenders, monocles and top hats.” From its signature cocktails to the marquee sign to the warmth emanating from the original light fixtures, Bar 1903 gives us a reason to raise a glass to simpler times.



Allison D’Aurizio was looking for a place to experiment and expand her passion for baking, and in late 2019 she and her husband, Chef Kurt D’Aurizio, settled down in Jacksonville to do just that. “The time was right, and we felt like Springfield was right,” said lead baker Allison. 1748 Bakehouse, Allison and Kurt’s Springfield restaurant venture, is a small-batch bakery and bistro sourcing ingredients from up to 20 local vendors, depending on the season. With Allison behind the sweet and Kurt creating the savory, the menu offers something for every foodie palate. Don’t miss Kurt’s country ham with brie and fig jam or Allison’s coconut cream cake and old fashioned apple pie. It’s a satisfying stop for a fresh-baked break.


Pups can get out the zoomies while their owners sip a craft brew at Two Shepherds Taproom. Photography by Lathala Creative Studios



Ross O’Bryan and his German shepherd, Hobbes, were desperate for somewhere to run and play as Florida’s summer rains washed over the Sunshine State for days on end. O’Bryan couldn’t find a place for Hobbes to play protected from the unpredictable weather, so he opened one himself. O’Bryan called a friend, Patrick Verdugo and together they opened Two Shepherds Taproom, an indoor/outdoor dog park where owners can sip a craft brew while their dogs get out the zoomies. O’Bryan debuted his puppy paradise to the public in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic on June 20. O’Bryan and Verdugo opened the dog park and taproom with mask requirements, social distancing and advanced cleaning measures. “It’s been crazy,” O’Bryan said, the only way to describe opening a business during a pandemic. You and your four-legged friend can stop by for a beer and a couple rounds of fetch all week long.



On the scenic banks of Lake Mirror sits The Joinery Food Hall, a picturesque place to grab a bite and a pint and a yummy day trip destination. The Joinery, owned by Jonathan and Sarah Bucklew, boasts a collection of vendors, where you can grab a cheesy pizza, a sizzling taco, a scoop of ice cream and even a bouquet of flowers. Jonathan, a retired drummer for indie rock band Copeland, opened The Joinery with his wife in an effort to bring his favorite things about the places he’s visited around the globe back to Florida. They built their food hall as a place for “foodies and design enthusiasts” who might also suffer from a smidge of indecisiveness.


St. Petersburg

A community project years in the making, the St. Pete Pier is officially revamped and open for business as of July 6. While a pier has existed in St. Petersburg for roughly 200 years, the refurbished and reimagined version was built to reflect the people of St. Pete. Several different architectural firms submitted concepts to a contest and locals had the opportunity to give feedback on each. After much deliberation and community input, St. Pete has a sprawling new entertainment district that’s much more than just a pier. Visitors can lay out beneath the “Bending Arc,” an aerial sculpture made up of more than a million knots and 180 miles of twine that buck and blow in the breeze; bring a rod and reel to try and hook a Spanish mackerel from the newly built fishing deck or enjoy upscale dining with an expansive view of the St. Pete skyline from Teak, the new fourth floor restaurant. To avoid overcrowding, patrons can reserve two-hour blocks online to enjoy the 26 acres of endless entertainment with plenty of room to play, dine, bike and stroll.


Guests have their own personal oasis at the Bungalows Key Largo resort. Photography courtesy of Bungalows Key Largo


Key Largo

Third time’s the charm for the new adults-only, all-inclusive resort Bungalows Key Largo. The South Florida sanctuary has pushed through all its setbacks from the last few years, including a fire and a global pandemic, to once again offer its sunny solace since reopening June 17. Staying at Bungalows Key Largo feels like shutting out the world, said Chad Bustos, property executive for Bungalows Key Largo. “It’s an incredibly tranquil environment. It feels like when you go beyond the gate of the 12 acres of property that you’re transported into your own private island,” he said. Retreat to one of the 135 bungalows—of which 31 overlook water and 104 open up to scenic gardens—and enjoy the vast space with the peace of mind that you are truly on vacation time. Indulge in your water activity of choice, or gift yourself an experience at the Zen Garden Spa.


Fort Lauderdale

The mission of Friendship Café is all in the name. “It’s giving something that many people like us take for granted,” said Rabbi Chaim Slavaticki, co-director of the Friendship Circle of Greater Fort Lauderdale. The café is the latest project of the Fort Lauderdale chapter of the nonprofit, which aims to improve the quality of life for people with special needs by pairing them with a buddy of a similar age. Inside the eatery, located in the heart of Las Olas Blvd., find a bright, modern space serving classic Mediterranean dishes.The cafe concept was launched to address the unfortunate reality that almost eight out of 10 people with a disability could not find employment in the United States in 2019, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Slavaticki emphasized that people with disabilities often face stigma that causes them to miss out on valuable parts of life like socialization. “What we realized very quickly is that this was something incredible for the adults, but also for the community,” he said. All proceeds benefit the Friendship Circle.

Somewhere between shaved ice and ice cream, these sweet treats from Vampire Penguin Shaved Snow come in a variety of interesting flavors. Photography courtesy of Vampire Penguin Shaved Snow



The wildly popular Vampire Penguin Shaved Snow brings its distinct take on frozen desserts to a new location in Southwest Florida that feels like walking into a Gothic castle in the North Pole with its black and grey tiles, black chandeliers and caped penguin on the walls. Since its January opening in Naples, Vampire Penguin, with most locations in California and Florida, has adapted to continue to offer the community its whimsical respite from the summer heat. Somewhere between shaved ice and ice cream, the Filipino treat’s unique texture comes from a special freezing process. As the name Vampire Penguin suggests, you won’t find run-of-the-mill chocolate and vanilla desserts here. You can try anything from cookies and cream and cotton candy to honeydew and Thai tea—the Naples location also features a popular mango cobbler flavor—with toppings including fruit jelly, jackfruit and Boba. “They’re plated. They’re beautiful. But it’s really not about the presentation. It’s the taste of it,” said Angie Herrington, co-owner of the Naples Vampire Penguin. “They’re so good.”



Award-winning chef Timon Balloo of Miami’s own Sugarcane raw bar grill has brought his culinary talent to a new namesake project in the historic Ingraham Building in downtown Miami. If you’re tired of your quarantine cooking experiments, Balloo Restaurant, a 2020 James Beard semifinalist, offers modern home cooking fare—and you don’t even have to do the dishes. Balloo’s Chinese and Trinidadian heritage informs his approach to food. “Balloo is special because it is a representation not just of my culture, but my home. I want my guests to feel like I’m personally inviting them in to share in the flavors and experiences that I had as a child,” Balloo said. Sip “Mom’s Trini oxtail stew” or indulge in succulent bowls of complexly seasoned chicken or jerk pork with vegetables unlike any in the 305. Its residence, the Ingraham Building, has graced downtown Miami since the 1920s, adding a vintage air to the new restaurant’s intimate dining room. In response to the pandemic, Balloo has takeout and delivery available.