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Pete’s sweet offerings make the fourth meal serious


It’s a likely situation arising in your “college career.” After getting down all night at the club, you find that you and your party of sweaty comrades are starving — like, really salivating for something fresh, home-cooked and filled with passion.

But the downfall — it’s nearing 2 a.m., and the only thing still pumping neon energy in its open sign within a 20mile radius is Taco Bell and Whataburger. Both, of course, graze your taste buds as grossly delicious at the moment of consumption, but the repercussions in the morning never really read worth it.

Meet Sweet Pete, AKA Rogerick Smith, but not a lot of customers score that information right off the bat.

Smith founded and owns Sweet Pete’s Catering Company, making late-night food fantasies come true with his San Marco-based fine dining food stand.

Smith graduated from Samuel F. Wofson High School in 1998. He later attended the Southeast Institute of Culinary Arts in St. Augustine for 18 months, going on to work as a spotlighted chef at the elegant Restaurant Medure in Ponte Vedra and the award-winning Matthew’s in San Marco.

In 2006, Smith decided to branch out and create his own catering service, purchasing a truck with which to set up Sweet Pete’s.

“I wanted to figure out a way that people could eat good food late night, and there was nowhere but fast food,” Smith said. “But at first, a bunch of clubs and bars denied me permission to set up outside their club.”

He finally went back to the old neighborhood, as he called it, and got permission from San Marco’s club Square One to serve its hungry club kids, he said.

Within a month he’d accumulated a crowd.

“All of a sudden, I had people traveling from Gainesville, Fernandina and Georgia to taste some Sweet Pete’s,” Smith said.

Sweet Pete’s proverbial doors stand open Wednesday through Saturday from 11 p.m. to about 2:15 a.m. His menu centers around simple elegance, and he explained that freshness is key.

“I wanted to give those who can’t really afford to go out to fancy restaurants the same gastronomic experience for way less,” Smith said.

Smith stores all meats, fish and vegetables on ice and cooks ’em to order.

“The shrimp and grits is where it’s at,” said. Chris Shinn, an Art Institute of Jacksonville film senior. “Man, don’t mention Sweet Pete’s. It’ll make me want to go get some.”

One of his regulars nicknamed the macaroni and cheese, “crack n’ cheese” to emphasize the addictive qualities of Pete’s gooey concoction.

“The grilled cheese is perfect with the tomato and lots of cheese,” said Lucy Nord, an FSC history sophomore.

From lobster, lamb chops and seasonal Chilean sea bass with sweet corn rice to ostentatious grilled cheeses and other vegetarian-friendly items, Sweet Pete’s business quadrupled in the past three years, he said.

“What Sweet Pete’s has become is really weird and quote humorous to me,” Smith said, “I mean, I never saw this coming.”

In addition to Sweet Pete’s, he caters for private parties and offers delivery. And for one month out of the year, a family hires him to grace them with his food in the Bahamas, he said.

“So far, Sweet Pete’s is working despite the recession, and business is continuing to climb,” Smith said. “I guess as long as people go to clubs they’ll continue to get hungry.”

Sweet Pete may be reached at 556-2737.


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