World of Beer coming to Cortez Road in Bradenton

University Park franchise owner eyes Q3 opening

cschelle@bradenton.comMay 27, 2014 

MANATEE -- Bradenton will soon experience its own World of Beer.

The Tampa-based bar will open a franchise at the former Wachovia bank building, 497 Cortez Road, inside the Orange Blossom Plaza, said Dean Lambert, owner of the University Park World of Beer.

The bar teased about its new Bradenton and downtown Sarasota locations during the Bradenton Beer Festival at McKechnie Field on May 24.

"I think the area is up and coming with all the breweries opening," Lambert said. "Sarasota and Bradenton, it's becoming more of a craft beer destination."

Demolition of the bank's interior has begun and build-out will begin soon, Lambert said, with the goal of a third-quarter opening.

The 6,000-square-foot building will include an outdoor patio and enough room for office and storage space, he said. While the Bradenton location will be the company's only standalone location, it will not be the first to be converted from a bank. The Tempe, Ariz., World of Beer was a former Tempe National Bank.

"We've actually discussed leaving part of the bank to build around it," Lambert said, but he's not sure if the layout will fit the design.

World of Beer got its start in Tampa's Westchase neighborhood. Scott Zepp and Matt LaFon started the concept in 2007, and the company's first franchise opened at 8217 Tourist Center Drive in University Park. The 50th location opened in Brandon last year. The company will see about 20 locations open this year throughout the country.

The bar carries more than 500 craft beers, has its own smartphone app and offers a loyalty program. It started serving food at select locations. The Bradenton one will be among those that feature "tavern fare."

"It's definitely not a restaurant with a bar," Lambert said. "It's still your neighborhood tavern with tavern food."

The Cortez Road location was attractive because of the area's high traffic count, and Lambert doesn't think he'll compete with his new neighbors, Flying Dog Cafe, known as more of a music venue.

"There's plenty of room for all of us," he said.

Lambert is searching for a general manager immediately and will look to add about 40 new hires about a month before opening.

Details are not yet available for the downtown Sarasota World of Beer, he said.

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

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