The Corona Extra surfboard tacked to the outside of the Hungry Parrot still promises guests will find limoncello and fruity sangria inside the restaurant and tiki bar at 5718 Manatee Ave. W.
But if anyone gained entry through the locked door, they would find the inside stripped of drywall, equipment strewn throughout the property and the soda machine wrapped in plastic. The debris and disrepair are a result of flooding and mold issues that restaurant owner Rick Nicoletti, 65, still struggles to resolve.
“At this point I don’t know which way to go because we’re going to be out of season,” Nicoletti said. “The first two years you’re struggling in a business anyway, and now it’s like you’re going back to square one.”
Nicoletti opened the Hungry Parrot in August 2014 with partner Miguel Mignano, who excused himself from the business within a couple of months after the restaurant opened because of health issues, Nicoletti said.
The problem began with a hole in the roof last summer that led to flooding after heavy rain. Though the property owner, Micheal Guccione, 69, sent someone to repair the roof, the first attempt didn’t take.
“There were some problems,” Guccione said. “The second time I had it done by a roof specialist.”
The roof is now repaired, but after the flooding, Guccione had to send in a mold remediation team to take care of water damage and toxic mold left behind by the rains.
After the mold remediation team was finished, the restaurant was left stripped of drywall with decorations and equipment piled into bathrooms and littered throughout. Nicoletti’s parents owned restaurants while he was growing up, he said, and he has owned five restaurants of his own. He has more than 30 years of experience in the heating and cooling industry. Outside of running the Hungry Parrot, he’s president of R&R cooling, heating and refrigeration services.
“I have never heard of a company coming in and annihilating everything and getting rid of the mold but they don’t put it back together,” Nicoletti said.
Until construction is finished, inspected and approved, the Hungry Parrot won’t reopen.
The property owner of more than a decade said the restaurant is ready to go.
“It’s been completely renovated and I had a mold remediation team redo it,” Guccione said. “I just got the mold certificate back. We’re waiting on a construction permit from the city of Bradenton.”
A few minutes later, Guccione said he “thinks the work is done now and we’re just waiting on the final inspection.”
The Hungry Parrot is located outside of the city of Bradenton’s jurisdiction. According to Manatee County permit records, the last permit applied for at 5718 Manatee Ave. W. was on June 23 for roof work. Guccione has owned the property since May 2006, when he bought it for $535,000.
In addition to the structural issues, Nicoletti said while the restaurant has been closed, rats have made a habit of running the place. Droppings can be found in the back storage room and kitchen, he said. Though the Hungry Parrot was cited for other violations, Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors never reported any rodent or pest problems at the establishment while it was open.
Now Nicoletti is afraid the restaurant will carry a stigma that he will be unable to overcome if he’s able to reopen. His restaurant furniture is locked inside of a storage pod, where it’s been for months, and he’s not sure if or when he’ll pull it out again.
Beyond the construction issues that need attention, Nicoletti would have to buy new equipment and inventory as well as hire a new staff. All of the prior Hungry Parrot staff work elsewhere now, he said.
Before he invests any more money into the restaurant, he hopes to recover some of what he’s lost.
“Would I? Sure,” Nicoletti said of reopening. “But they’re going to have to reimburse me for all of my lost inventory, for all of the monies I would have lost up to now. They would have to come in with a decent figure for me to reopen.”
Nicoletti is working with his attorney to get the remaining issues resolved with Guccione.
Until it’s all straightened out, the Hungry Parrot will remain closed.