Photobomb: The Chattaway

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The Chattaway - "Home of the Chattaburger" - is a historic landmark in St. Pete even though the iconic burger joint decided to opt out of the official designation years ago. The structure was originally built in 1922, and it stands proudly today as an eternally popular spot on the Corner of 22nd Ave S. and 4th St.
Who runs the Chattaway? The whole story begins in 1951. The family owned establishment was founded then by Helen Lund, though it has been a restaurant since 1933 and a gas station previously. In 1988, Helen’s son Everett and his wife Jillian Lund Frer took over ownership, and The Chattaway is now run by Jillian after Everett’s passing in 2002. And still, the family legacy continues on as the restaurant benefits from even third and fourth generations of the family working in the restaurant.
Locals come to enjoy live music, funky ambiance, great food, including vegan options and even a spot of tea in the Tea room.
There is a small stage for performers who are booked regularly, representing a wide range of music from rockabilly cover artists to smooth jazz. Frer says that sometimes they get too loud for her taste. She says, “I’m famous for going, ‘Shhhhhh!’”

While the Chattaway is best known around St. Pete for its “Chattaburger,” many also recognize the vibrantly painted iron clawfoot bathtubs. Frer says that the bathtubs were just a parking barrier at first, beginning with six. Today, there are 44 total--donated by locals, and Frer says that they have enough now. “The bathtubs were painted by Elija," boasted Frer. "He is from Jamaica and uses wonderful colors. But, some have faded.”

Elija also is responsible for painting the Chattaway's restrooms, spruced up with a bright Floridian-themed mural.

Set mostly outdoors, the dining area is set with fabric overhead amid the trees to help provide shading, and several fans are strategically placed to help cool down customers in the Florida climate.

Two years ago, designed to offer something special for the off-season months, afternoon teas were introduced. The Chattaway’s Tea Room is adorned with blue and white china and decor. Says Frer, “People bring things. They stick with the blue and white theme, and that’s how the collection grows.”

Chattaway's owner, Jillian Frer, is pictured below in Chattawy's Tea Room.

Then there is the bar. Those of us who remember the Chattaway from long ago still find it hard to imagine that the late Everett Lund won’t soon appear from behind that bar to continue entertaining and telling stories to his loyal customers. After all, that’s where he spent much of his time. Says Frer, “Everett really wanted to be on stage [as he was an accomplished singer], so being behind the bar all that time made him a bit grumpy.” 

Photography by R. MonaLeza.

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