Flying Dog Cafe moving to Cortez Road in Bradenton

cschelle@bradenton.comSeptember 19, 2013 

TALLEVAST -- Flying Dog Café is landing in Bradenton after 10 years in Tallevast.

Owner Bruce Famiglio expects the new Flying Dog, 419 Cortez Road West in the Orange Blossom Plaza, to open in late October and have a grand opening planned later this fall.

"It's sad, but at the same time, I'm excited about the new place, of course," Famiglio said. "It's not the four walls that make the Dog. It's the camaraderie that has been forged over the last 10 years. The friendships that have been made, I can't even count."

The new location will offer a larger space, handling about 150 people, a larger stage and music area, extended hours, expanded menu and easier parking. Famiglio describes the restaurant as a "family style café" that is also a music venue, complete with a bar.

Customers have married each other, some have become lifelong friends, he added.

"We represent that destination for relaxation and companionship," he said.

Several changes will mean there will be more love for the Dog. Stromboli, grinders and pizzas named after their musician friends will be added to the menu. The new Flying Dog will be open later, and will have Saturday hours, Famiglio said.

He also has the option on the space next door, which Famiglio said he would likely exercise, to add room for another 50 to 75 seats. During some of his busiest concerts, he has to turn people away at the door in Tallevast.

"As a business owner, what saddens me over the last 10 years is that we can only hold so many people that come here to this current location," Famiglio said. "It kind of breaks my heart on Thursdays and Fridays when I see customers go because it's full."

He has also brought on board Tom MacKnight, a new partner to help with the business. MacKnight was just another customer, but his musical background and love for the Flying Dog helped him rediscover his passion for music venues, and led him into business with Famiglio. MacKnight will be the musical director at the new venue, which is expected to feature music five nights a week.

"Our intent is to make the Flying Dog like a musician's living room, if you will, so musicians can come hang out and have a good time," MacKnight said.

In addition to concerts, MacKnight is planning workshops for musicians, gear demos and will be

tweaking the Thursday night jam program. Local musicians will be a priority, and weekends will likely feature an out-of-town act, said the Connecticut native, who came here from Birmingham, Ala.

"I think we're going to cater to all types of musicians, and we really want to make this the music hub of Bradenton," he said, by revamping the sound and lightning system.

A new marble bar will be installed, and the cafe will apply for a liquor license to become a full-liquor bar by 2014, MacKnight added. Those looking for soft drinks will not be left out. The cafe hopes to carry a private label Flying Dog Cola for soft drink lovers.

Flying Dog will also host a kick-off party for the Bradenton Blues Festival in the new space, featuring Doug Deming & The Jewel Tones Nov. 21. More information about that event will be released soon.

Famiglio joked that the café has been having "a last big bang" for a couple of months, the latest one will be a fundraiser/concert.

Faith Fest 2013 concert will be at the Flying Dog Oct. 5, featuring the Lauren Mitchell Band, Carolyn Davis & Friends at the Faith Worship Team led by Aria Reed, former singer for The Sound. The event lasts from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., and a $10 per person cover charge is a suggested donation. Proceeds benefit Faith Presbyterian Church's Raising Faith program.

Famiglio came to Sarasota after doing real estate for 25 years, and also ran cafes in the Philadelphia suburbs, including the Lincoln Coffee Exchange in West Chester, Pa. In Florida, he's around his brothers, including Mark Famiglio, a businessman who co-owns transcription company CopyTalk next door in Tallevast, and is on several boards in the area including the Sarasota Film Festival.

He's seen some interesting people come through the doors at Flying Dog, including Gov. Rick Scott and actor William H. Macy when he came to a past Sarasota Film Festival, but the café sees mainly pilots and construction workers stop in during the day. The new place will help bring a diverse crowd into the café, said Amber Murphy, a manager at the café and employee for the last nine years.

"It'll definitely be a change of people than what we get here," she said.

Charles Schelle, business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.

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