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Owner of Ezra eatery pulls out of deal to move to downtown Bradenton

BRADENTON -- The owner of the Ezra Cafe restaurant has decided to not relocate to downtown Bradenton because of the negative publicity generated by an offer of $250,000 in public subsidies to help pay for the move.

"Since the information regarding the offer was released to the public, I have received a tremendous amount of feedback from my customers and fellow business owners," wrote Donna Eason, in an e-mail to the owners of the SunTrust bank building proposed for the relocation.

"Based on their response, I am not confident that I will have the support of my customer base to be successful at this location."

The Downtown Development Authority on Feb. 3 agreed to provide $250,000 in rent and construction subsides to ease the relocation of the Ezra restaurant from its current spot at 5629 Manatee Ave. W. to the SunTrust building, 1001 Third Ave. W. The offer was contingent on Eason signing a lease with the building's owner, 3rd Avenue Associates.

The deal drew fire from some in the community, including from at three members of the Bradenton City Council who complained that they were not notified of the negotiations before the DDA voted to approve the subsidy offer. The council could have vetoed the agreement within 30 days.

In her letter to John McKay and Ron Allen, partners with 3rd Avenue Associates, Eason described her unease with the publicity.

The "underlying public opinion and the division regarding the transparency of the process within the city government further decreases the likelihood of my success," Eason wrote in the letter, which was dated Sunday.

"I do not feel that I can risk the financial liabilities I would incur with the relocation of my business to this site."

For more on this story, pick up a copy of Wednesday's Bradenton Herald.

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