One of the most popular bars on U.S. 41 has found a new home in West Bradenton.
The revamped spot is nearly a year in the making, said Wesley Rose, owner of The Clam on 59th. He began renovating the restaurant in August and opened to the public three weeks ago in the Blake Park plaza at 1830 59th St. W.
Moving from a waterfront property to a decidedly landlocked location has its tradeoffs, but Rose said the pros far outweigh the cons.
"There's not as many variables here. I used to be on my phone every day checking the Weather Underground app to see what the weather was going to be," Rose said, explaining that a rain forecast could mean significantly lower revenue at his old restaurant, The Bearded Clam.
The Clam is a blend of old and new. There are 62 items on the menu, which Rose says is evaluated every week to see what's selling. Those who frequented The Bearded Clam will be happy to hear that some staple items have returned, including the infamous all-you-can-eat Thursday Taco Bar.
There is, of course, a full liquor license and bar seating, in addition to lounge and outdoor seating nearby. With lots of other businesses in the plaza, Rose said he has decided to cater to their needs by creating menu items that hold up well when delivered.
"McDonald's has additives in their fries that keep them crisp," Rose said. "We don't use any of them, so even when the fries are in a vented box, they get all steamed up in just a few minutes."
That's not the only way Rose plans to adapt his restaurant. The Bearded Clam often hosted poker runs and fishing tournaments thanks to its water access and those kinds of events aren't possible now.
But Rose has an idea.
He said one of the cool things about being located in a plaza is that the parking lot clears out after 5 p.m. and there's no one there on the weekends. So, instead of boats, Rose hopes to get similar events started with pickup trucks.
"There's a market for that sort of thing with these four-wheel drive trucks. People buy these huge trucks for $70,000 and then put another $35,000 into them," Rose explained. 'We can have fun with that."
The "fun" they have will go back into the community, too. Every year The Bearded Clam chose one local organization — such as the Boys & Girls Club of Manatee County and the Police Athletic League — and donated the profits from events to it. That tradition will continue on 59th Street.
Rose opened The Bearded Clam in 2010 and said the decision to move stemmed from the amount of work the establishment required. In April, a restaurant called Tarpon Bay Grill & Tiki Bar announced that it will fully remodel the 7150 N. Tamiami Trail space and plans to open in August.
The Clam on 59th features more seating than the Bearded Clam, with 142 seats and 18 televisions. Even still, Rose wouldn't describe his restaurant exclusively as a sports bar.
"We're going for more of a 'Cheers'-type atmosphere, like a neighborhood bar and restaurant where friends and families can come hang out," Rose said.
There's a full kids menu, live music from Thursday to Sunday and a 30-seat private dining room available to rent for parties and meetings. Rose is also proud of the restaurant's appearance, which is bolstered by brand-new wood paneling at the bar and artwork from local artists such as David Skaggs.
Menu items range from $6 for smaller entrees to $23 for the daily fresh catch. A daily happy hour special offers $1 off certain drafts and $3 wells and house wine.