Chuck Prather, President of Birchwood Development, is a local developer turned hotelier and restaurateur who graduated from high school in Tampa, attended the University of Florida, and graduated from the University South Florida with a degree in Business Administration in 1983. His career began as a commercial real estate broker working for large developers. In 1996, he formed Birchwood Development to build and lease back buildings to the federal government. His early projects include the Tampa Drug Enforcement Administration office, Tampa Immigration, Detroit Immigration District Headquarters, Riviera Beach Border Patrol, Jacksonville Border Patrol, and the regional Office of Security and Integrity in Burlington, Vermont.
In 2011, Chuck ventured into the hospitality business to enact his vision for the downtown St. Petersburg waterfront property and fulfill his desire to offer the community something different that combined new development with the area’s history. Purchasing the former Grayl’s Hotel, originally built in 1924, he demolished all but the four exterior walls. Prather re-made the property into The Birchwood – a five-story building that includes an 18-room boutique hotel; a 340-capacity person grand ballroom; Birch & Vine, a fine dining restaurant; a rooftop bar and lounge, and an outdoor sidewalk café,
In 2018, Prather teamed with the City of St. Petersburg to redevelop The St. Pete Pier, a 27-acre city-owned site. The project includes Teak, a 220-seat restaurant overlooking the waters of Tampa Bay, and Pier Teaki, a Tiki-themed rooftop bar with a capacity of over 400. Also at the Pier is a coffee shop and café known as Driftwood Café. The family-friendly development offers 22 public boat slips, a large children’s playground, a splash pad, and a beach.
After joining the hospitality industry, Prather became active in the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association (FRLA) and the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA). His engagement included meetings and advocacy efforts across the state and in Washington, D.C. for lobbying days, where he pushed for changes to address the many challenges faced in the hotel and restaurant industry. Later, he served two terms as President of FRLA’s Pinellas County Chapter. In addition to working with elected leaders, he also focuses on the education of culinary and hospitality students. He is an avid supporter of Travelpalooza and the Ryan Wells Foundation gala, local fundraisers for student culinary scholarships. Prather was also asked to be an Introduction to Hospitality guest lecturer at St. Petersburg College.
Appointed by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners in 2018, he currently serves on the Pinellas County Tourist Development Council, an advisory board that makes recommendations on how to allocate the funds collected from the county’s bed tax, which exceeded $95,000,000 in 2022. In addition to the FRLA and TDC boards, Prather is also a board member of the St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership and Suncoast Centers.
Chuck is a family man with six adult children aged 21 to 34. His wife, Kathy Reilly Prather, M.D. (OB/GYN) left her practice in 1998 and spent many of her retirement years as the volunteer Medical Director at Catholic Charities Pregnancy Center in St. Petersburg.