PALMETTO -- The Terra Ceia Bay community is considered paradise living, so the owners of a new restaurant there are pitching their business as paradise dining.
"You'll see sunsets here like nowhere else," Sunset Grill Terra Ceia Bay owner Jurgen Wochnik said. "People live here from all over the world. They're super nice."
Tucked away in the Terra Ceia Bay golf community in Palmetto, Sunset Grill is celebrating its grand opening Thursday. The grill is in the clubhouse at 2802 Terra Ceia Bay Blvd., and is open to the public.
Wochnik wanted to provide three distinct atmospheres for diners to suit their vibes: casual dining, a European pub and a party atmosphere by the pool and tiki bar with full liquor lineup. It's all designed to be more inviting and shed itself of a country club reputation. Sunset Grill opened July 3.
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"I want people to come put their feet up, watch a game and feel at home," he said.
A native of Germany, he operated three restaurants in Berlin while living out his dreams as a musician. He also ran a restaurant in Sarasota. called O'Malliey's Bar and Grill that was open from 2005 to 2009. He then moved to Terra Ceia last year.
"I was living here, met everybody, and it's a beautiful place," he said. "Why not?"
The grand opening festivities start at 4 p.m. with a ribbon cutting at 5 p.m. Nashville recording artist Randy McNeeley will perform, and the bar will have giveaways, a pool party and the first draft beer is on the house.
The menu is a mix of his favorite German fare, with various schnitzels, pub food and some Caribbean favorites by his Puerto Rican chef. He hopes to add fondue and other items as the restaurant progresses. The European pub features a mix of German and Belgium beers plus some craft selections along with darts and a TouchTunes
Expect a crowd at the tiki bar where folks can come in and take a dip in the pool and grab a drink.
"Every night, exactly at sunset, we'll give out a free shot at the tiki bar," Wochnik said.
The bar will feature regular events aiming to connect to all demographics, ranging from pub bingo and trivia nights to pool and karaoke parties, a deejay Saturday nights and live music Sundays.
"It'll be like a total entertainment complex," he said.
Wochnik partnered with Robert Newhart, who owns the Sunset Grill in Ruskin, but its operations are quite different and only share the name. Wochnik also manages that location.
Tenants have come and gone at the clubhouse so Wochnik is seeking to stabilize business there after renovating the dining room and building a new tiki bar.
His girlfriend, Valerie Dillingham, renovated the neighboring gym Balance Your Body, featuring new equipment and steam and massage rooms. Dillingham also provides personal training sessions and group classes.
The gym gives the clubhouse a truly European experience as gyms in Europe are known to have a pub attached, he said.
"You and me can work out and have a beer afterward," he said.
The 20,000-square-foot space also includes private meeting rooms and is available for weddings, banquets and other events, he said.
Regular hours for the restaurant will be 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and until close for the pub and bar. The gates to the community will remain open as long as the restaurant is open, he said.
Charles Schelle, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow him on Twitter @ImYourChuck.