Skies were gray with impending buckets of rain on Thursday and most Manatee County restaurants were in a “hurry-up-and-wait” mode.
Although areas of Bradenton and Manatee County were under water enough for cars to be stalled on Wednesday, it was business as usual for most restaurants. Many said road flooding spurred a slow day and some reservation cancellations.
O’Brick’s Irish Pub and Martini Bar, 427 12th St. W., closed at 7 p.m. Wednesday to ensure employees were able to get home safely. Owner and general manager Rick Willats said he planned to stay open regular hours on Thursday “unless a tsunami comes down the street.”
Willats, like many others, said Thursday and beyond were touch-and-go.
Water flooded the streets of downtown Bradenton on Wednesday but Greg Campbell, the chef and general manager of Pier 22, located at 1200 1st Ave. W. just south of the Manatee River, said he didn’t have any flooding issues and didn’t have to close early. Campbell and his team are on call for first-response situations.
“We never close,” Campbell said. “We would be open to feed the working crews.”
On Thursday morning, other restaurants on Anna Maria Island and closer to the coastline were bracing for high winds and heavy rain. For Karen Bell, owner of Star Fish Co. Market and Restaurant, 12306 46th Ave. W., weather was the least of her worries.
We only have five of our working boats here and they’re tied down so hopefully they don’t take anything out.
Karen Bell, owner of Star Fish Co. Market and Restaurant
“Our biggest concern is we just found someone has moved two of those derelict sailboats right behind us,” Bell said. “And when they break free in storms, they smash into our boats.” Late Thursday afternoon, Bell said one of the boats broke free and crashed into a nearby Coast Guard dock.
The Herald previously reported on the problem of abandoned boats and discovered Manatee County taxpayers foot the bill for removing them, at a cost of $204,200 since 2010.
The Star Fish commercial fishing vessels were moved to other secure locations, Bell said, to prevent any damage to the market and restaurant facilities. And without some help from a fellow commercial fishing company in Madeira Beach, Star Fish would be without fresh fish.
“Everybody’s in,” Bell said. “We were fortunate Madeira Beach sold us 1,000 pounds to help us get through the weekend. There’s hardly anything fresh on the coast because we can’t be out in this.”
The Chiles Group restaurants, located on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key, closed the Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant and Pub, 760 Broadway St. Mar Vista only has outdoor and dock seating available because the indoor dining space is undergoing renovation. The Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., was closed for lunch Thursday because of high tide, winds and existing flooding, Chiles Group COO Robert Baugh said.
But “The Beach House is going to stay open and we stayed open yesterday,” Baugh said. The Beach House is located at 200 Gulf Dr. N.
Although they aren’t near the coast, some other restaurants got a scare Wednesday when U.S. 41 flooded near the intersection of 53rd Avenue West.
At Tiramisu Ristorante Italiano, 5215 14th St. W., chef and owner Luca Cecconi said the flooding made for a slow day Wednesday, but no water got into the building.
“We were open yesterday and we’re open today,” Cecconi said. “We don’t want to close, but if the weather is going to get worse we will close.” The decision depended on if Tiramisu customers cancel reservations, he said.
The nearby Dairy Queen, 5217 14th St. W., also didn’t experience any flooding in its building and store manager Josh Cole said there were no plans to close.