Friday, August 29, 2014

Ask the Locals: Brian Bailey and Dexter Fabian, the boys who love the ’Burg

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 5:58 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY HEIDI KURPIELA
  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Brian Bailey and Dexter Fabian are the founders of iLovetheBurg.com, the website created by ’Burg lovers for ’Burg lovers. They live in downtown St. Petersburg and spend most of their time frequenting and championing local businesses.

Bailey, 45, steers the marketing, advertising and social media side of the site, while Fabian, 37, manages the graphic design stuff. The two perform similar duties for RKC.me, the successful St. Pete-based creative communications firm Bailey founded in 2003.

The couple met through mutual friends while living in New York City, where Bailey served as senior vice president of Rubenstein Communications, one of the largest independent public relations agencies in the world. They’ve been together for over 11 years.

In 2005, they moved to St. Pete after Googling the Saturday Morning Market and seeing images of what Bailey describes as “people living and enjoying the epicenter of a city.”

Poster boys for St. Pete living, Bailey and Fabian cannot imagine roosting anywhere else. They attend almost every event and are on a first-name basis with at least a dozen downtown bartenders. They share one car and walk almost every day to their office behind City Hall.

In May, their eponymous website celebrated its 5th anniversary. To celebrate the occasion, Bailey and Fabian hosted a series of “Burg-A-Lympic” events across the city. The festivities –– corn hole, table shuffleboard, craft beer drinking, an art show and cocktails at Mandarin Hide –– perfectly encapsulated the spirit of St. Pete and its two biggest cheerleaders.

Favorite downtown dives: Mastry’s Bar & Grill. Dexter: “Remember when we looked for a jukebox and the only place we could find one was Mastry’s?” Brian: “That was the night Amy Winehouse died and we drank PBR out of plastic cups and had our own little wake.”

Favorite so-gross-it’s-good dish: The scrapple at Skyway Jack’s.
Brian: “It’s basically the scraps: pork, corn meal, flour, spices and trimmings. It’s tasty mush.”

Favorite restaurant decor: Munch’s Restaurant. Brian: “It’s like old-school New York dining.” Dexter: “I like the little round stools and all the memorabilia on the walls.”

Favorite place to get pampered: Massage Spa on Central Avenue. Dexter: “It’s good bang for your buck.” Brian: “It’s a comfortable spot when you want to disconnect from St. Pete.”

Favorite place to mark an occasion: Alésia Restaurant. Dexter: “It’s great French Vietnamese. I celebrated my last birthday there. It’s very barebones and no frills. Brian: “They have La Fin du Monde, which is probably one of the original real deal craft beers. It comes from Canada.”

Favorite Burg bartenders: Brent and Eddie at Moon Under Water, Angie at Bella Brava, Pauly at Café Alma and Matt at Tryst Gastro Lounge. Dexter: “These people all have the same things in common: they make good drinks. They remember your name and they give that extra pour.”

Favorite thing to do with out-of-town guests: Pound the pavement. Brian: “That walk from 5th Avenue North to Beach Drive, then along the waterfront is pretty amazing.”

Favorite city green space: Lassing Park. Brian: “It’s quaint and tucked behind historic houses and brick roads.”

Favorite place to meet new people: CrossFit 9 and CrossFit 727. Brian: “The people we’ve met through CrossFit are all smart, quality people that we wouldn’t have otherwise met had it not been for the gym.” Dexter: “Our CrossFit friends are so diverse. One is a professor. One is an IT guy. One is a former Marine.”

Favorite local dog whisperer: Dr. Few and Dr. Slocumb at Skyway Animal Hospital. Brian: “The place is old school. It’s the closest thing to a family doctor I’ve seen for a dog. Everyone who works there is a Dr. Dolittle.”

Favorite highbrow culinary festival: Enjoy Arts & Tastes: St. Pete & the Bay Area Festival of Food, Wine and the Arts. Dexter: “Celebrity chefs paid attention to St. Pete. It took our food scene up a notch.” Brian: “Sixty Tampa Bay restaurants were under one tent. It was unprecedented.”

Favorite sweet spot: Mercel’s Bake Shop in Pinellas Park. Dexter: “They make really good Filipino birthday cake. They’ve got a little grocery store and a restaurant, too. I feel like I’m home and my grandma is there cooking for me.” Brian: “They also serve Crispy Pata, which is deep-fried pork leg.”

Favorite alternative to ice cream: Custard Brioche at Everything Dolce. Brian: “I’m a sucker for cakes. I’ll take cake over ice cream any day.”

Favorite late-night grub run: Stop & Shop. Dexter: “It’s like a bodega from home. You can get everything there.” Brian: “I’ll get Pringles and Pork Rinds like it’s nobody’s business.

Favorite reprieve from the heat: Muvico Sundial 19 + IMAX. Brian: “For people who stay as busy as we do, going to see a movie is like going on a 90-minute vacation.” Dexter: “And they serve wine and beer!” 

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