MANATEE -- A Mexican restaurant's move to Palmetto is opening the door for Bradenton's first LongHorn Steakhouse.
LongHorn is proposing to demolish the Los Cabos Mexican Restaurant, 4502 14th St. W., and build a new restaurant.
"We're really excited to potentially enter the Bradenton market," said LongHorn spokeswoman Erica Jaeger. "We have a sister concept Olive Garden in the trade market that has done really well."
If approvals stay on track, the restaurant would open in early spring 2014, Jaeger said.
This would be Manatee County's first LongHorn Steakhouse if the county OKs the plans. Sarasota has two -- one on Fruitville Road next to Target and another at the corner of Gulf Gate Drive and U.S. 41. The restaurant is known for its fresh, never frozen steaks, stone walls and American West theme. Typical new LongHorns are about 6,300 square feet and seat about 240 people, she said.
LongHorn also plans to provide 125 parking spaces, according to plans submitted to Manatee County, and is asking to build a 23-foot high, one-story restaurant.
The plan was submitted under the Rapid Response expedited permitting process through Manatee County, which means the restaurant can be administratively approved, according to the application. The project has yet to receive final approval, and the construction timeline is unknown.
The development is part of a purchase and sale agreement from Phil Burghardt of PDG Electric in Bradenton and Rare Hospitality Management, which is a Darden Restaurants company. The Orlando-based restaurant group owns chain brands Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Bahama Breeze and The Capital Grille, among others. The sale is being brokered by David Grabbai of The Shopping Center Group LLC.
The LongHorn is just steps away from the remodeled Olive Garden off of U.S. 41 and Cortez Road.
Nuevo Los Cabos
Documents for the sale of the Los Cabos property show the Mexican restaurant's lease expired May 31 and would not be renewed. Los Cabos' final day of business was on Cinco de Mayo, owner Mariano Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez hopes to open within the next month at the old Dizzy Burgers and Shakes, 1318 10th St. W., Palmetto. His new venture will be called Los Cabos Express.
"I lost a lot, but I learned a lot," Rodriguez said of his transition from the old restaurant to the new one. "I feel like everything is going to be better."
The new restaurant will sit a few people inside the 1,000-square-foot space,
but is designed mainly for carry-out, he said.
The same menu and food will be featured at Los Cabos Express, except alcohol will not be sold, Rodriguez said.
Across the street from LongHorn, Chick-fil-A is getting ready to open Aug. 1 in Cortez Plaza.
The restaurant will be owned/operated by Nathan Hoeksema of Bradenton.
Hoeksema, 36, a Bradenton Christian School and Manatee Community College graduate, has worked at Chick-fil-A since he was 16. He became an owner/operator at 22.
He oversaw the Chick-fil-A location in De SotoSquare mall, and has since turned the food court restaurant over to the com-pany to focus on his free-standing store at 4573 14th St. W.
The restaurant will be one of the newer modelsfor the chain, featuring a split countertop pod system that allows employees to easily walk into the dining room to serve guests, he said.
The drive-thru will also have two lanes that merge into one to handle more orders, he said.
Hoeksema plans to employ 80 people, most of them teenagers.
"As I talk to young kids,I tell them we're here torun a business, but most importantly from my standpoint, it's to have a positive influence," he said.
The restaurant will be open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, andthe first 100 people in line Aug. 1 will win freeChick-fil-A for a year, Hoeksema said.
Certain rules and restrictions apply.
Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.