Three new restaurants opening by season in downtown Bradenton

Senor Fajitas is aiming to open mid-November in downtown Bradenton at 316 12th St. W.
Senor Fajitas is aiming to open mid-November in downtown Bradenton at 316 12th St. W.

Mexican, tapas or breakfast for lunch?

That will be the question du jour for the downtown Bradenton crowd once Jennings Downtown Provisions, Senor Fajitas and Sage Biscuit open their doors.

Jennings has been working on its space at 417 12th St. W. all summer and into the fall. Now the tapas and craft beer spot thinks it’s ready for a soft opening on Saturday and will be open during the evening to start.

Co-owner Donna Cripe hopes people are excited, but she doesn’t want to be overwhelmed with a huge rush in the beginning, especially because seating at Jennings, inside and outside, is limited to 30 people. For restaurateurs, even experienced ones like the Cripe family, there’s no way to know how the gears will turn in a restaurant until the place is up and running.

The Jennings test menu will start with small dishes like avocado toast, lime shredded chicken tacos and a smoked salmon “board” with bousin, red onion, capers and toasts.

The menu will be expanded from the initial offerings, but additional dishes will depend on feedback from customers. Jennings will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 4-10 p.m., and the family plans to extend the hours, again based on the business and community response.

Jennings Downtown Provisions replaces Harvey Lovejoy’s Japanese restaurant Izakaya Nazuka, which vacated in March.

A block over, Senor Fajitas, printed on a “coming soon” sign in the window as Sr. Fajitas, is preparing to open in the former Cafe Barrister and Jeanne’s Bistro space at 316 12th St. W.

Pablo Larin, in a business partnership with Rafael Romo of Mr. Tequila Mexican Restaurant, is the restaurateur behind Senor Fajitas. Larin used to run Papa Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant in Sarasota and believes there’s ample room and demand for a Mexican restaurant in downtown Bradenton.

Fajitas will be Larin’s specialty, but other Mexican fare will be on the menu, including tacos, enchiladas, chimichangas and burritos.

Senor Fajitas will serve beer and wine at first, but Larin hopes to secure a liquor license as soon as possible.

“When you come into a Mexican restaurant, you know, you want a margarita,” he said.

He hasn’t determined specific hours for the restaurant, but he plans to be open for lunch and dinner. He’s especially excited to welcome the Saturday Farmer’s Market crowd and will be able to accommodate about 50 people inside the restaurant.

Larin and the Cripe family, once they’re both open for brunch hours, will be competing with one of Bradenton’s best-loved daytime restaurants, Sage Biscuit.

The Sage Biscuit family, made up of José Moreta, his son Joe Moreta and daughter-in-law Nicole Praessel, hasn’t set an opening date for their downtown location, which will replace Dave Shiplett’s fine-dining establishment Soma in the Bradenton Financial Center building.

They’re hoping for sometime in November after they finish remodeling the space, which includes new decor, new furniture and a complete overhaul of the kitchen.

The hours at the new Sage Biscuit, 1401 Manatee Ave. W., will be the same as the Cortez Road location: 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., seven days a week. Once the remodel is finished, it will be able to accommodate around 100 combined in their indoor and outdoor seating.

Weekend jazz brunches with live outdoor music are in the works. Takeout and dine-in are a sure bet, but delivery will be limited to inside the Bradenton Financial Center building at first.

“We’ve been looking to get somewhere downtown for the last couple of years,” Praessel said. “There’s a good local crowd down there.”

Janelle O’Dea: 941-745-7095, @jayohday