In 1992, St. Petersburg school teacher opened Ferg's Sports Bar and Grill from an old gas station across from Tropicana Field in downtown St. Pete. Ferg's has become the largest sports bar in the state of Florida, hosting over 900 events a year with crowds from 8,000 people for baseball Opening Day to 35,000 for the 2004 World Series. In 2015, Mark licensed his name to Ferg's Live, across from the Amalie Arena in downtown Tampa. In 2013, Mark saw the empty Church Street train station and envisioned a restaurant and event venue that would help turn struggling Church Street around.
Famous railroad tycoon Henry B. Plant built the original train station in 1889 in a Queen Anne and late Victorian style for the South Florida Railroad. It was called the Old Orlando Railroad Depot and was used primarily as a terminus for livestock and grain transportation. Passenger traffic followed, as evidenced in the expansive train waiting room, now used as the Main Dining Room for Ferg's Depot.
When the station opened, the South Florida Railroad ran from Orlando to Tampa. In 1893, this line eventually became part of the Plant System, a line of railroads and steamboats running through the South. The Atlantic Coast Railroad acquired it in 1902, at which time the South Florida Railroad then became part of the Atlantic Coast Railroad. The Atlantic Coast Railroad ran from 1900-1967 in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia.
In the 70's the station and nearby buildings were purchased and developed into a major entertainment center, with restaurants and nightclubs and dubbed Church Street Station.
After its original owner sold the development in 1989, Church Street Station experienced a period of decline. The station sat mostly empty for 30 years. At the same time Mark purchased the property, Sunrail, Orlando’s intercity rail system brought passenger travel back to the Depot as its Church Street Station stop.
After nearly two years of permitting and a year of reconstruction, Ferg's Depot opened its doors in January of 2016. The Depot today consists of several original buildings and train platforms that house three dining rooms, 4 bars, a courtyard, an outdoor covered Oyster bar, private party space and areas for games and entertainment. Four shipping containers, painted to look like freight train cars lie adjacent to the property and house the beer cooler (sending draft beer to 80 taps), the kitchen, cooler/freezer and bathrooms.
In addition to regular lunch and dinner business, Ferg's Depot is one of the most unique event and party venues in Orlando, hosting groups from 10 to 3,000. We have already hosted such events as the Florida State University Oyster Roast, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Draft party and many corporate events.
Ferg's Depot continues to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places.