If you work, live or play in Downtown St. Pete, chances are that you are familiar with crowd favorite restaurants such as the lively 400 Beach Seafood and Taphouse, Parkshore Grill for fine-dining, The Hangar with its quirky atmosphere, and the ever so interesting Café Gala located in the Dali. The common variable with all of these excellent restaurants is the owner who continues to influence and inspire us all. Steve Westphal is a man in town (if not, THE man) who gives back to the community in more ways than one.
Perhaps it is Westphal’s military roots that gave him the experiences as a child, which allowed him to fall in love with diversity and made him a world-class host. While living in Morrocco with his family when he was about six-years-old (his father was in the Air Force), he remembers his parents hosting Embassy parties at their home. Although Steve was the only child at the lavish affairs, he somehow felt that he fit right in with the men sporting their military medals with pride and the women looking stunning in their evening gowns (sounds like a fairy-tale!).
How did this military boy transition into the restaurant industry? As a young teen, Westphal landed his first job as a bus boy and as fate would have it, twenty-some years later, he ended up owning the restaurant where he got his start at – now known as The Pub in Indian Shores. After a decade of running it, he began to realize the opportunity for hospitality in beautiful Downtown St. Pete. Actually, Parkshore Grill, located at 300 Beach Drive NorthEast, will be celebrating its tenth anniversary this year and Steve cannot believe how quickly the time has flown by!
“You get up and you work hard everyday,” Westphal said as he explained what he contributes his success to. “Only the strong survive.”
At all of Steve’s six restaurants, the managers and he preach customer service through the entire staff. In his eyes, hospitality is key from the time the sun comes up until the moon goes down. However, Westphal says that “no man does it alone” and operating each business is most definitely a group effort. He says he has been blessed to have the right people come into his life to manage and work the stores.
For example, Chef Tyson Grant and Steve have been working together for about ten years. Thanks to Chef Tyson Grant, along with the other amazing chefs, they are able to maintain and balance creativity with culinary expectations of the public all while adapting to the season in each restaurant. (Did you know that Tyson and Steve also have a catering company with a mobile kitchen truck? Keep them in mind for your next event. In fact, a stunning venue to have a wedding or other special occasion is NOVA 535 – that historic location with Chef Tyson Grant’s delicious food sounds like the perfect match to me!)
Westphal contributes the varied atmospheres and menus in his restaurants to his frequent travels with his lovely wife, Nancy. (The two met about seven years ago as she was walking past 400 Beach while it was still a pile of dirt under construction. He asked her, with a little wink, if she liked his restaurant and apparently she did because the two are now the special ingredient in each other’s life!) The Westphals enjoy visiting different parts of the world to search for meals and love bringing back something they have learned to share with the chefs and staff. (Did you know that calamari is the number one selling appetizer in the world?! Try an order of the fried calamari next time you are at 400 Beach – it’s delicious!)
Contrary to some self-made entrepreneurs, Westphal is not entirely about the hustle. He is incredibly passionate about the experience of each restaurant, but also he has found the importance of giving back to the community. Steve and his amazing team work hard to address as many local outreach programs and charities to ensure that he is fulfilling the role he believes they are responsible for in helping the community.
“When you get to a point where financial success isn’t everything,” Westphal began explaining while displaying extremely raw and humble emotions, “you wake up and realize life is a growth process. What’s the purpose? It’s not to be self-centered. It’s to be a part of something. When you are a part of something, you are a greater person.” (Yes, Steve! Downtown St. Pete is proud to have you part of the community and you are definitely one of the greatest people. We thank you!)
What’s next for Steve Westphal? Another serendipitous venture that is said to open in early 2017 – keep your eyes open for Gulf Grill. Located between John’s Pass and Madeira Beach Bridge, here you will be able to enjoy the stunning sunsets on Madeira Beach. Westphal has been dreaming of opening something on the sand and now his dream is coming true!
His grandmother once told him that it’s all about “location, location, location” and all of Steve’s restaurants (which he loves equally) certainly don’t lack in that department. Whether you want to watch the planes take off at The Hangar, learn about Spanish culture and cuisine at Café Gala, gaze out at the boats on the water, people watch on Beach Drive, or find a great restaurant to do business at, one of Steve’s is for everyone! Westphal is passionate about his philosophy of “Great Food, Service and Atmosphere” and the common thread runs through all of them for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner.
Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida is continuing to evolve ever so quickly. As it does, so is DowntownStPete.com. We are dedicated to keep you informed of the things to do in DTSP from the 5-star places to go, best events to attend, and those wonderfully unique personalities to meet, just like Steve Westphal! Create your profile to interact with other members and post a photo onto Downtown Now of your delicious meal at one of Steve’s unique restaurants. We can’t wait to hear from you!