13th Street West begins transformation
Within the 500 block of 13th Street West, revitalization is blooming into new businesses and new business opportunities.
Oscura Cafe and Bar opened this week at 540 13th St. W., with a grand opening set for Sept. 4. Across the street, Chateau 13 Restaurant & Wine Bar, a western European restaurant with an American flair, is under construction with plans to open sometime this fall.
The two restaurants are the latest in a long-term effort by the the city to see downtown entertainment choices extend beyond Old Main Street.
King’s Station, a business incubator and conference center opened in late 2016, followed by Brand Story Experts. Both businesses invested several hundred thousand dollars into the renovation of existing buildings, sparking interest inthe potential redevelopment of the entire block.
Sugar Cubed bakery, o one-time Village of the Arts staple, was the first to recognize the street’s potential and relocated in December. Renovations to the buildings across the street began as more interest grew and Oscura Cafe was the first to sign a lease around the time Chateau 13 owners also made plans to join the block.
Both restaurants plan to take advantage of fresh, local foods in their individual and very different dining experiences.
“What we are doing is a small and intimate western European inspired menu, but still sourcing from the bounty of seafood, dairy and produce we have locally,” said Jennifer Sayko, Chauteau 13 general manager.
Sayko’s partners are Wim and Mieke Lippens, owners of the Palmetto Riverside Bed and Breakfast and the European-style restaurant the couple opened in their bed and breakfast late last year.
Sayko has long seen downtown Bradenton’s potential for growth.
“What is happening in this area with local support almost brings tears to my eyes,” Sayko said. “People in Manatee County shouldn’t have to travel far to have a good product in a fun, classy atmosphere. We are about good food, good wine, good beer. Those are things everyone understands.”
While western European food sounds fancy, it’s a mixture of dishes from that part of the continent, including France, Belgium and Italy.
“Bradenton is ready for this,” Sayko said. “When you look at how far Old Main Street has come in the last 10 years, we all have a desire for something more than what’s in one block and something outside of the box. This street has been a dead street, but it’s a beautiful street and under appreciated until now.”
Sayko said when the restaurant opens it will be for dinner five nights a week but depending on demand, it will develop a lunch menu as well.
“But not before I know our dinner is perfect.”
The Oscura is a unique gathering spot offering coffee, tea, custom-made Italian sodas and a light lunch menu. All ingredients are local, including their sandwich breads from Sugar Cubed, and all of the sauces and vinaigrette are made in-house. They are open from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. and will offer beer and wine in the near future.
“There is a huge vacuum in the coffee culture in Bradenton to the point where you have to drive 30 minutes to the north or south to experience it,” said co-owner Ben Greene. “We were looking at different locations and this place really spoke to us as being part of the downtown atmosphere and offering something unique.”
Co-owner Keith Nasewicz said the cafe will be offer something for everyone and has plans to host a variety of special events. It’s a coffee house, a tea house, a cafe, an eventual bar, an entertainment area, “And just a place where someone can come in and hang out,” he said.
It’s a place, Greene said, that is perfect for the family during the day and will cater to the “18 and up crowd,” at night. The owners are in talks with Darwin Brewery to develop a special blend just for Oscura.
“We want to be a little outside of the box,” Greene said. “We want to make this street the next destination spot in Bradenton.”
Since Oscura opened and construction began on Chateau 13 interest in becoming their neighbors is soaring. Building owner and downtown investor Vincent Crisci has been in discussions with several interested tenants to occupy the remaining spaces on the west side of 13th Street.
While offers are on the table, Crisci said it’s too soon to make any announcements.
“Better to not paint the baby’s room blue too soon,” Crisci said.