Inside St. Petersburg’s 2D Cafe, opening this week

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Published April 7|Updated June 23

From the window to the wall, every detail inside the 2D cafe is meant to create the illusion of being inside a drawing.

The curtains are not fabric, but white panels. The chairs, tables and floors are hand painted with black outlines. Wire vases are placed on each table. It took three months to transform the former Swah-Rey bakery into a two-dimensional restaurant, owner Maria Merello said. 2D Cafe will open in St. Petersburg on Friday at 2105 Central Ave.

Inside the 2D cafe in St. Petersburg, chairs, tables and floors are hand-painted with black outlines. [ AYA DIAB ]

Merello said she was first inspired by a cartoon-style restaurant in Tokyo and has since wanted to open her own. Similar restaurants have popped up across the United States, such as Twenty Pho Hours in Orlando and Matte Black in Los Angeles. Merello said St. Petersburg’s vibrant art culture made it the right place for an idea like this.

Merello commissioned local artist Chad Mize and gave him free rein with the concept. The St. Petersburg artist has painted murals for The Saint, Hawkers, Bodega and several other local establishments. The interior of 2D Cafe is one of his biggest commercial projects to date.

“We gave him an idea of ​​the things we wanted to have here,” Merello said. “But then we wanted his own style to be the art.”

Mize painted windows overlooking European landscapes like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and Greek countryside. There’s even a sketch of his dog sitting under one of the windows. Other scenes on the wall show a cartoon library and a nook where patrons can enjoy the doodle of a fireplace without feeling its heat.

The old Swah-Rey Bakery at 2105 Central Ave.  has been transformed into 2D Cafe.
The old Swah-Rey Bakery at 2105 Central Ave. has been transformed into 2D Cafe. [ AYA DIAB ]

The furniture was hand painted by general manager Alex Campbell, who described it as a tedious process.

“But look how cool it is,” Campbell said. “It is definitely worth it. »

A blue neon sign near the entrance reads, “Be the Art,” the slogan for 2D Cafe, which Mize helped find. Merello said that means guests are invited to come and be the main character in their own comic book story. The black and white aesthetic allows guests and colorful food to act as a focal point.

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Avocado toast at 2D Cafe in St. Petersburg.  The menu features coffeehouse staples and homages to the cuisine of Greece and Ecuador.
Avocado toast at 2D Cafe in St. Petersburg. The menu features coffeehouse staples and homages to the cuisine of Greece and Ecuador. [ AYA DIAB ]

The menu will include staples like coffee, croissants, muffins, avocado toast, sandwiches, salads and cold cuts (either on a board or skewered in a cone). The 2D Cafe will also offer cuisine honoring Merello and his wife’s countries of origin, Uruguay and Greece respectively, such as empanadas and spanakopita. The pastries will be made by the Crumb Factory Bakery and the coffee beans will come from Dancing Goats.

The 2D Cafe will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., and Merello said she plans to extend hours in the future. Wi-Fi is available for guests.

“I think the aesthetic will naturally appeal to people because it’s really unique and cool,” Campbell said. “And we obviously hope that the service, the food and the product will keep people coming back.”

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