BRADENTON -- Manatee County Linksters Management Group franchisee Ed Smith wanted to find a location nestled among successful restaurants for his second Paddywagon Irish Pub location.
He got his wish, so he opened Paddywagon Irish Pub at 6690 Cortez Road in early July.
"We'd been looking at that spot for over a year," Smith said. "We targeted the area and then we had a few options, but we really liked that one being next to Anna Maria Oyster Bar."
Smith and his cousin, Tony Hoskins, own the other Paddywagon Irish Pub in Bradenton at 4402 State Route 64.
Paddywagon Irish Pub on Cortez Road will host a grand opening celebration starting around 9 p.m. Saturday. Giveaways include a Weber grill, coolers and bean bags with the Paddywagon logo, Smith said, in addition to drink specials.
The Cortez Road shopping center was lacking before Paddywagon moved in, Smith and Anna Maria Oyster Bar President John Horne said.
"We wanted to bring an upscale pub and we want to bring something else to the table," Smith said.
The bar has 17 TVs with "all the games from all the leagues: NFL, MLB, NBA, and the NHL," according to the Linksters Taproom website. Paddywagon on Cortez also offers pool tables and dart boards and is open from noon to 2 a.m. daily.
"They're great neighbors," Horne said. "The more people we get in our plaza the better. That location has been vacant for two to three years and you want vibrancy and life in your shopping center."
There are no plans to expand Paddywagon in terms of serving food. Smith said his neighbors on Cortez Road West have it covered and he invites Paddywagon customers to bring food into the bar if they like.
"Anna Maria Oyster Bar and Sage Biscuit do it so well; we refer our custom
ers to the neighboring restaurants around us," Smith said. Horne makes sure Paddywagon is stocked with menus from Anna Maria Oyster Bar and if customers order while at Paddywagon, Anna Maria Oyster Bar will deliver.
Florida weather and the desire to try running a franchise of his own brought Smith, his wife and two sons to Florida two years ago. The family resides in Lakewood Ranch.
The two men who started Linksters, Tom Elliott and Rich Kunzle, are longtime friends. Right as Smith's family began to contemplate moving, Linksters had just begun to franchise.
"The timing was perfect, we took the leap of faith and it's turned out great," Smith said.
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter@jayohday.