Beach restaurant

Car crashes into St. Pete Beach restaurant

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — After a series of setbacks and some bad luck, The Helm on St. Pete Beach is set to open February 22.


What do you want to know

  • Michael and Heidi Butler decided to open their own restaurant after Michael lost his job in the hospitality industry at the start of the pandemic
  • After delays, it was supposed to open in January, but a car crashed into the building
  • The Helm will now open on February 22
  • More Pinellas County Titles

Owners Michael and Heidi Butler decided to open their own restaurant after Michael lost his job in the hospitality industry at the start of the pandemic. The couple sold their house and used the money to design their own restaurant concept and create The Helm.

Michael and Heidi met over 30 years ago while working in the same restaurant.

Michael was chef and Heidi bartender. The two married soon after and spent their careers in the restaurant and hotel industry. When Michael lost his job in 2020, they took it as a sign to follow their dream and open their own home.

Originally, The Helm was supposed to open before Thanksgiving. Rising lumber prices, supply chain issues and delays in finding contractors have forced them to push back their opening day until January.

“I think the hardest part is just trying to stay positive,” Heidi said.

On January 6, a week before their scheduled opening, a white Mercedes slammed into their wall and drove into the dining room after the driver lost control.

“You can’t even describe it. It was a very emotional day for both of us,” Michael said.

The accident resulted in another delay and a financial blow. The two worked to reorganize materials and quickly bring in contractors to try and fix the wall and ease the blow that eight months of rent with no income has created.

The Helm is now due to open on February 22, a dream long in coming for the Butlers.

“When it’s about to happen, you’re like, ‘Fuck, this is really going to happen. We’re going to have our own restaurant,'” Heidi said.

They plan to use The Helm for charity in the St. Pete Beach community once they are up and running. Click here to find out more and see the menu.