If you are going to call your new business the Bad Ass Cafe, well, there should be reasons to live up to the name.
So whether it’s bacon-infused vodka that goes perfect in a Bloody Mary, or taking a selfie mugshot with the likes of Johnny Cash or Jimmy Hendrix, or showing how Manatee County can shrug off Hurricane Irma, the Bad Ass Cafe is off to a good start.
The owners of the 1950s-syle diner in the 300 block of Old Main Street closed its doors late last week and opened up their new venture next door, unveiling the new logo of a donkey in full kicking mode surrounded by the cafe’s name. Owner Thomas Stynes salvaged as much wood from Hurricane Irma as he could, refinished it and used a lot of it in his decor, which showcases beautifully finished brown woods.
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He hired local artist Richard Brasil to paint old American automotive symbols along the far wall all in effort to modernize his 1950s theme of Lou’s Diner into a full blown Americana theme.
“It was simply a transition, the next evolution,” Stynes said. “The ’50s diner was cool, but it was limited in seating, and I wanted more Americana.”
The cafe offers a full bar and is non-smoking, something Stynes believes is important.
“There are very few places downtown that offer a non-smoking venue,” he said. “I just want people to come in and enjoy it. It’s the ultimate casual, warm, friendly atmosphere for everybody to partake and to give them another option.”
No need to worry too much about missing Lou’s. Much of the menu has transferred to the cafe. Stynes said it’s a start for the next month or two and then the menu will expand with some different items.
“Any new business has some hiccups,” he said. “On the first day we opened, the brand-new computer system was a nightmare. I just want to make sure we get past those kind of issues and then we’ll go in the right direction. I’m going to add some appetizers, some fresh stuff, some new stuff.”
Cafe employee Marcus Lopez is helping to expand the bar’s infused options. The bacon-infused vodka is made with applewood-smoked bacon that sits in the vodka for a week before being made.
“It’s been a best seller,” Lopez said. “Especially during the Bloody Mary bar and mimosa bar on Saturdays. We also have a jalapeno infused vodka and are looking at serving different infused vodkas.”
The cafe is open from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. weekdays and opens at 9 a.m. on Saturdays for the Farmers Market. On Friday and Saturdays, the cafe is open until 2 a.m. Stynes said since the cafe has a full bar and will offer specialty cocktails, “We’ll review how it’s going and if the demand is there to keep it open longer, then we will do that. We’ll have delicious cocktails, a full bar, a good selection of craft beer, a good menu and we’ll continue to build on that.”
The cafe sits where the old Market on Main Street used to be. The market will transfer over to where Lou’s Diner was. Stynes said the market will continue carrying everything people had become accustomed to when it closed a few months ago to make way for the cafe.
“This was the vision I had all along,” Stynes said. “We may dabble a little in live music, but something acoustic, light, mellow and easy. No drums or amplifiers blowing out your eardrums. We’ll do something very casual.”