I’ve become known as “one of the three birds.” It’s an identity I’ve embraced, at this point, but the irony of its origin is worth a tale. If you’re reading this, you’re probably aware that I’m co-owner of Three Birds Tavern, a restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida, with my husband, Jack. My name is Robin, also the name of a bird, obviously, and we have three daughters between us, so many assume that “the three birds” refers to Robin and her daughters. But most often what I hear is, “It’s so nice to meet one of the three birds.” So, after 50 years of life, and many different nick names, including Sissy, Sis, Robbie, Mom, and a few not worthy of repeat, I’m now “one of the three birds.”
The irony is that the name of our business, Three Birds Tavern, has absolutely nothing to do with my first name, or our daughters, but rather the beloved song Three Little Birds, written and sang by Bob Marley:
Rise up this morning’,
Smiled with the risin’ sun,
Three little birds
Pitch by my doorstep
Singin’ sweet songs
Of melodies pure and true,
Sayin’, this is my message to you-ou-ou
Don’t Worry ‘bout a thing,
‘Cause every little thing gonna be all right.
Why did we choose this song, and this name? Well, there are two parts to that story. I’ll begin in 2004, one of the most difficult years of my life. The year was filled with drama, illness, sadness, and finally death. The year began with the continuation of post-divorce and child custody drama for both Jack, and me. Too many lawyers, too many teenagers, and too many misplaced motives. But the real tragedy began with my mother’s cancer diagnosis in September, followed by a very quick death, at the tender age of 58. To be followed by the death of Jack’s mother in November, who we buried the day before Thanksgiving. Problems continued with our children, and the emptiness left by the death of my mother created a deep sorrow like I had never experienced, and had a difficult time getting past. I spent hours in my car during that year, and the following year, driving to and from hospitals, mostly, and music became my muse. I listened to hours of old favorites, new trendy stuff, but something kept drawing me back to the lyrics and melodies of Bob Marley. My heart was heavy, and some days seemed more than I could bear, and the message to me-ee-ee not to worry, ‘cause every little thing gonna be all right,” became my mantra.
For part two of the story, we now have to fast forward to 2008. My husband was winding down his law practice after 25 plus years of litigation work, based out of Cleveland, Ohio. The younger two of our five children were set to graduate from high school in 2009, and we knew that after that, we wanted to move somewhere with warmer climate, more sunshine, and lots of water. We explored California, we contemplated moving to our lake cottage on Johnson’s Island, in Ohio, but desperately wanted out of the cold weather, we considered Belize, where we own a timeshare, and Florida. We chose Florida, then the Gulf Coast, and finally St. Petersburg. The process was long, and perhaps I’ll write about that another time, but during the process I found Richie Hughes, a Brit, living in St. Pete, and owner and creator of ClearpH Design Studios. He was along for the ride, so to speak, as we chose the business to purchase, and explained to me the traditional pub, or tavern, naming process in Great Britain; modern pub names are intended as a marketing ploy, or an attempt to create “brand awareness,” and the name should be meaningful to us in some way. Ah-ha. Brand awareness. Now we’re talking. And might I add here that no one creates brand awareness better than Mr. Hughes. Now back to the story. Name origins are not necessarily confined to traditional names, and can be broken up into categories such as animals, colors, numbers, food, alcohol, personal names or titles, hence the idea to use the word “king”, both our last name and a title, presented itself, along with other options. Names considered, with logos created, weeks of work; King’s Pride, King’s Castle, The Dog & King, The White Elephant, The Fat Duck, just to name a few. My husband was not keen on using his surname, so the search continued.
During a visit to Florida in March of 2009, before the deal was finalized to purchase the property at 1492 4th Street North, I sat on the porch here simply as a customer. At one point, I looked up into the century year-old oaks, saw three birds lined across a telephone wire hanging between the trees, all while Bob Marley’s song “Three Little Birds” played from the jukebox in the background. I knew at that moment that this was the business we would purchase in St. Petersburg, and that the name of the restaurant would be Three Birds. With continued research, as we strived to create a description of our vision for our business through the name and branding, we learned that originally, in Europe, a tavern was an establishment where people gathered to eat and drink, without lodging (Inns had this, plus lodging). The tradition continued in America during colonial times, when taverns sometimes replaced town halls and became a gathering place to hear newspapers read aloud, learn about crop prices, bet on a horse race, and yes, eat and drink. Similar to the European marketplace, the tavern truly was a link to the greater world for rural Americans. We wanted to create that same gathering place, where locals come daily to catch up with friends, share news on current happenings, to celebrate special days, and to find comfort on difficult days. Hence, the birth of Three Birds Tavern, where every little thing gonna be all right.