Rhett’s Piano Bar brings it to St. Aug.

By Kelly Gibbs | kgibbs@flagler.edu

Gin and tonic in hand, I felt like a queen sitting in the velvet booths at Rhett’s on Friday night.

The bar has a quaint foyer with a picture of Rhett Butler himself. Rhett’s sits side-by-side to Scarlett O’hara’s on Hypolita Street in downtown. A play off Gone with the Wind, the dimly lit atmosphere is refined and romantic, which is supposed to be a contrast to Scarlett’s loud wild vibe in the movie, said Maria Acelo, the bar’s general manager.

Acelo said though it was supposed to open in May, the opening delayed until October because the owner, John Arbizzani, wanted to get everything just right. And everything was perfect, all the way down to the old-timey tables and chairs, the pool table, felt walls and the gorgeous piano with pianist Andrea Marquis playing throughout the night.

When asked how they were enjoying themselves, the table next to me raised their drinks and shouted “What do you think?!” The pair of couples were dressed in 40’s attire and explained they couldn’t wait to come to the opening after their dance lesson in Palm Coast.

Food is served until 11:00 pm, later than most places in St. Augustine and the menu features a variety of global cuisine with dishes like the baked shrimp gumbo puff and dark chocolate espresso mousse for desert. The drink list is extensive and goes back in time as well, featuring drinks like a gin Rickey or brandy milk punch, and everything in between. I myself would suggest the “dirty bird” with goat cheese-stuffed olives.

The best part about the menu is that it is affordable and welcome to St. Augustine’s local scene. It also has hours unlike any other establishment in St. Augustine, opening at 5:00 pm and ending service later if there’s a big crowd.

“I think the plan is to open up a champagne room upstairs when we get more settled in,” said Sarah Crissman, a waitress at Rhett’s and a student at Flagler. The upstairs features huge bay windows overlooking Hypolita and one can just imagine how gorgeous champagne would taste in a sun-filled second story in the future.

Here’s to you, Rhett.

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