Tapas, craft beer and family-made wine are headed for downtown Bradenton.
Marc and Donna Cripe hope to bring the craft drink bar with “light bites” to Old Main Street by the end of July. The Cripes just celebrated 14 years as owners of Central Cafe on Manatee Avenue East. Their new cafe, Jennings Downtown Provisions, will be a completely different concept than their current cafe, which will stay the same.
“It will be more like a European sidewalk-style cafe,” Donna Cripe said. “Most of the seating will be outside. It won’t be anything like Central.” The roughly 1,000-square-foot space at 417 12th St. W. was most recently occupied by Japanese restaurant Izakaya Nazuka. Owner Harvey Lovejoy declined to renew his lease at the end of March, leaving the spot vacant until the Cripes signed a one-year lease with two five-year options.
Developer Mike Carter owns the Jennings Arcade building, and his business, Mike Carter Construction, is based nearby. Carter could not be reached for comment on Friday.
“We’ve always wanted to be downtown,” Donna Cripe said. “We’d like to be more involved in the city we live in.” She grew up in Bradenton and Marc Cripe moved to Anna Maria Island in middle school. The two have a daughter, Marley, who was also raised in Manatee County. She’s now 22 and works with her parents at Central Cafe.
Donna Cripes mentioned tacos, salads and sandwiches as possibilities for the Provisions menu, though the Cripes are reluctant to say anything definite yet. Opening for lunch is a possibility, but they know they’ll be open for happy hour and dinner. Craft cocktails will not be on the menu because full liquor licenses are tough to get in Manatee County. It is one of 16 Florida counties with a liquor license quota and, during the Florida Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco’s drawing for liquor licenses this year, only 30 were available between all of the quota counties.
The Cripes hope to source Provisions’ food from local farmers and craft beer from nearby breweries. Sourcing the wine won’t be difficult; two labels of wine, Lola and Sapere Aude, are made by Marc Cripe’s brother and are already served at Central Cafe.
Fav’s Cucina, the Cripes’ downtown neighbor across the hall, has been open for 16 years. The staff has seen several restaurants revolve through that space. Fav’s owner Mike Favasuli expects the Cripes to do well and stay for a while.
“Central Cafe has a good reputation,” Favasuli said. “It’s just going to bring more people down here. Competition is good for everybody. I think it’ll be a great little deal for downtown, and especially for the nighttime crowd.”