Come Celebrate St. Pete's Biggest Party for Ferg's 25th Anniversary
Creative Loafing, November 15, 2017
Mark Ferguson, owner of Ferg’s Sports Bar & Grill in downtown St. Pete, has been serving up some of Tampa Bay’s best burgers and brews for the last quarter-century. In 1991, Mark purchased an old Sunoco station in St. Pete’s Gas Plant District with hopes of creating a freshness in a once- rundown area. With no experience in the restaurant business, and 18 years of high school Phys. Ed. teaching under his belt, he did know one thing: that he loved sports, drinking, eating wings, and his community.
As a St. Pete native, Mark aimed to make Ferg’s a place for the community to gather and wanted everyone to feel like it’s for them. Mark explained that having a local-centric restaurant “builds relationships if there’s enough people around to make it work for everybody.”
With an emphasis on creating a popular hangout spot, Ferg’s really is every Bay Area resident’s favorite backyard party. It’s packed with more than 84 TVs, making sure everyone gets a chance to watch what they want... except for grandma, who might have to watch Mike & Molly at home. This a sports bar we’re talking about here.
Sports really do play a huge role in creating the environment of Ferg’s and Tampa Bay at large. "In our 2nd year the TB Lightning came to town & played for 3 1/2 years at the Thunder Dome & gave us a huge boost," said Mike. Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Rays, is so close there is an underground tunnel connecting the Sports Bar to the stadium’s bars, so you can keep the buzz going without having to deal with the traffic on 1st Ave South. The Trop has drawn some massive crowds to Ferg’s over the years, considering it’s everyone’s pregame and postgame location for the Rays' 81 home games each season.
“I consider Ferg’s like a community gathering spot,” Mark explained, “My passion is to make St. Pete a better place.”
And he does!
Ferg’s specializes in hosting fundraisers and community give-back. Most recently, back in September during Hurricane Irma, Ferg’s was one of the few local establishments with power. Their employees stuck it out during the worst of the storm to provide service, a great place to chow down, and a TV fix to alleviate some of the madness — all thanks to their parking-space-sized generator for keeping the lights on and the kitchen running.
With a knack for finding a way to make the best of things, it has become a Ferg’s tradition to use recycled materials in the restaurant structures to create unique buildings. Ferg’s maintains a part of history by reusing wood and metal pieces from local schools and hospitals, like St. Anthony’s, to build character while also saving the environment. “I think everybody needs to recycle — we recycle beer cans, plastic, everyday,” Mark said, “We recycle everything we use in the restaurant.” With a focus on maintaining the local environment and the culture of Tampa Bay, most of those recycled cans of IPA and glass brews come straight from brewers in the area.
Fergs LogoMark believes supporting local breweries and being community-driven is “very important ... people want to eat, drink, work in their own environment.” He’s even devoted Tuesday nights to drinking craft beers and enjoying half- priced appetizers.
Rounding off two-and-a-half decades in business, Mark explained that “it’s not every day that you get a restaurant/bar that’s over 25 years old,” so he wanted to celebrate the achievement with those he created the space for — the people of Tampa Bay. He recalled his previous career, saying, “Being a schoolteacher and going into the restaurant business with no experience... I’m one of the few that made it.”
With less desire to eat at chain restaurants, and big names losing popularity, local businesses have their time to shine — using Ferg’s as the backbone example of how to make it as a restaurateur in a local community.
On Wednesday, November 22nd, Ferg’s will put on St. Pete’s biggest birthday party. It’s an all-night rager, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. — easily the best way to get over Hump Day.
There will be T-shirt and koozie giveaways, raffles, and drink specials to enjoy with the friends and families that have made Ferg’s what it is.
When you walk in from work, Ferg’s own DJ Mad Man Mac will already be there getting the party started from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Inside the Party Deck, starting at 8 p.m., the party will continue all night until 11 p.m. with authentic Florida music by The Greg Billings Band. If you’re the type that wants to chill Out Back instead, Tampa Bay’s rocking cover band The Red Sunday will be jamming from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Everyone’s invited to celebrate 25 years of great food, great drinks, and great people.