We should be so lucky to have a bar named after us when we pass.
Lore is a powerful piece of dive bar credibility and Dead Bob’s, a St. Pete staple, owes its name to an epic story that involves a chance encounter with a hard partying man named Bob who has sadly since passed on. The Dead Bob’s web site features the full story, but rest assured than any dive bar origin story that involves a Weekend at Bernie’s reference in a strong indicator of good drinking spot.
West St. Pete transitions into a string of natural and man-made islands connected via causeways housing all manner of townhome and timeshare. Dead Bob’s serves almost as a gateway to these barrier island amenities, one of the last stops along the mainland before well trafficked destinations like St. Pete Beach. And as far as gatekeepers go, Dead Bob’s is a good one, an unassuming drinking spot with a pretty packed food menu and the kind of inside-out footprint common to Florida dives.
As layouts go, Dead Bob’s isn’t complicated, a single interior room bordering a garage door-separated exterior space that spills out toward the main road. Inside feels more like a local restaurant than any kind of dive, a collection of high top tables that on this reviewer’s visit were populated by eaters more so than drinkers.
But it’s easy to envision the outdoor area as the drunken spillway after a night of drinking on a warm Florida night. The bar itself straddles the barrier between the two areas, offering 360 degree bartender access that is probably more convenient for the drinker than the staff on a busy night. Regardless, the covered chairs butting up to the bar outside feel like the move for a night of drinking. Behind, another rail for drinks and a handful of tables complete the front patio.
And it would be reckless to complete this review without referencing a sign I’ve never seen before, attached to the bathroom door imploring visitors to respect the one-person-per-bathroom rule. As the saying goes, signs exist for a reason, which adds a layer of intrigue to the kind of wildness that must take place during a night at Dead Bob’s.
As with a few of the bars in the Tampa / St. Pete area referred to as dives, it’s hard to really look at Dead Bob’s and call it a classic dive bar. The epic backstory, the neon sign, the front porch, the weirdly specific bathroom sign, the ingredients are certainly there for a great drinking destination, even if the layer of dirt and the smoke-stained ceiling tiles are missing.