The Manatee County Planning Commission on Thursday unanimously approved plans for a 9,000-square-foot Whiskey Joe’s Bar & Grill on 1.8 riverfront acres at 5313 and 5315 19th St. E. in Ellenton.
The proposal, including plans for a new dock on the Manatee River, now goes to the Manatee County Commission for approval.
Developers propose to open the new restaurant in 2019, said attorney Caleb Grimes, who represented the developer at Thursday’s meeting.
Residents expressed concerns about traffic and lighting in the area.
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Grimes said, however, that the developer had met with five of the neighboring residents to reassure them that Whiskey Joe’s will be a good neighbor.
“We are a family restaurant. It is a high-end restaurant with 70 percent food sales and 30 percent alcohol sales,” Grimes said.
The restaurant will handle parking on site and provide subtle lighting that won’t obscure the night sky, Grimes said.
Located near I-75 and U.S. 301, the site is not suitable for residential uses, he said.
“We think it is one of the best uses that can be put there,” Grimes said of Whiskey Joe’s.
Planning commission member Paul Rutledge made the motion to approve plans for the restaurant, saying, “We want good neighbors. We want good businesses.”
The motion passed 6-0.
The owner/applicant for the project is listed as TH Harbour, LLLP, of Piscataway, N.J. Specialty Restaurant Corporation of Anaheim, Calif., would operate the proposed restaurant.
“We are very excited about our new Whiskey Joe’s location in Ellenton. This will be our fourth location of Whiskey Joe’s,” Margaret Schroeder, vice president of marketing for Specialty Restaurants Corporation, told the Bradenton Herald in December.
“The restaurant will accommodate around 250 guests, plus beach seating, and we expect to employ about 200 people from the local community,” Schroeder said previously.
Specialty operates 21 restaurants in five states, according to the company’s website. The closest are Whiskey Joe’s Tampa and Whiskey Joe’s Port Richey. The company also operates a Rusty Pelican in Tampa.
“Whether you’re looking to dine along the serene waterfront or admire the bustling city below, all of our restaurants provide one-of-a-kind views,” the company says on its website, specialtyrestaurants.com/restaurants.
All of the Specialty restaurants are located on waterways, airports or hill locations.
Company founder David Tallichet, a World War II veteran, opened his first restaurant in 1958 in Long Beach, Calif.
The family-owned company now has restaurants in California, Ohio, New York, Texas and Florida.
“Whether you’re looking for a romantic date spot, a delicious brunch with friends or a huge reception, our restaurants are built to accommodate groups of all sizes. Every location has a patio, bar, dining room and large event spaces so no matter the occasion, SRC restaurants are the place to go,” the company web site says.
A Johnny Leverock’s Seafood House that closed in 2006 is located to the east of the Ellenton site. The property neighboring on the west is a single-family residence.
The action taken by the planning commission Thursday would approve rezoning of 0.82 acres of a 1.77 acre site from residential single-family to planned development mixed use.
A single-family home was built on the property in the 1960s or 1970s. The home was demolished sometime in the 1980s. The parcel has not been redeveloped, according to the planning department staff report.