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Purple Olive Bistro Restaurant in St. Augustine Beach

By Robert Waldner
Photos by Tammy Harrow

Sometimes all it takes is a once in a lifetime vacation to put a person’s career in perspective and to grease the wheels for a successful future. Peter Kenney’s motivating experience came during a trip to Italy with his wife Deidre, and experiencing the cuisine at local family-owned eateries. It was the inspiration he needed to open his own local family restaurant. Shortly after that once in a lifetime trip, Peter and Deidre opened Purple Olive Bistro in 2004.

Purple Olive Restaurant

As with many of the area’s more prominent chefs, Kenney’s success is predominantly St. Augustine grown. He gained a wealth of invaluable experience at popular establishments like La Parisienne and Manatee Cafe. Perhaps most notable was his time at the local landmark, Gypsy Cab Co., where he worked as Chef De Cuisine under the direct influence of the Old City’s resident celebrity restaurateur Ned Pollack. Under Pollack’s guidance, Kenney learned the ins and outs of the restaurant industry and ultimately gained the practical and culinary tools to realize his own dream of restaurant ownership. Add in the meeting of his future wife, Deidre, and you could say that his future was laid out before him at the popular Anastasia Boulevard eatery.

PERFECTLY-SEARED SCALLOPS TOP A BED OF FRESH SPINACH

Now, as owner of Purple Olive Bistro, Kenney blends his colorful past experience with his own creative flair to provide a dining experience like none other in St. Augustine. Describing Purple Olive as an International Restaurant, he elaborates, “We have chefs who specialize in a variety of categories — Asian, Latin, Southern — so we have the ability to satisfy different appetites. We also make a lot of vegetarian and gluten free dishes. We are highly focused on a variety of dietary needs.”

Purple Olive’s entrees are culinary masterpieces, featuring mouthwatering beef and poultry dishes and succulent local seafood. A huge hit among return clientele is the ‘Build Your Own Plate’ menu feature, which allows diners to customize their meal from a variety of entree, condiment, and side item options. “Everybody can sit at the same table and enjoy different types of cuisine,” says Kenney of Purple Olive’s variety.

Mouthwatering Ahi Tuna

That’s not all. Purple Olive’s delectable offerings are available outside of the restaurant as well. “We are highly involved with the catering business,” states Kenney, adding, “We are available for weddings, family events, and local special events.”

As a show of their love for St. Augustine, Purple Olive adorns their eclectic walls with the work of local artists. Kenney has also extended his love of the community through philanthropic efforts such as donating more than a thousand meals to area hurricane victims and giving to non-profits such as The Boys and Girls Club. “With us not being a downtown business, we just like to remind people that we are here and we love being a part of this great community,” says Kenney.

Lambchop topped with Blue Cheese

For more information or for call-ahead seating, call (904) 461-1250, visit the Purple Olive website, or stop in at 4255 A1A South.

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