Welcome back, snowbirds.
A lot has changed in Bradenton and Manatee County since you headed north in the spring, eager to escape Florida’s sizzling summer.
Now that you’re back, there’s a lot you need to know about your home away from home.
Here’s some of what you missed while you were gone:
Costco opens in East Manatee
Manatee County’s first Costco warehouse opened in late August to much fanfare.
The 155,000-square-foot store is located at at 805 Lighthouse Drive in Heritage Harbour, near the intersection of Interstate 75 and State Road 64.
The store is open from 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday.
For more information, visit costco.com.
New flights at SRQ
Officials at Sarasota Bradenton International Airport were busy adding new airlines and destinations.
The addition of Sun Country Airlines this summer brought to nine the number of airlines serving SRQ. The others are Air Canada, Allegiant, American, Delta, Elite, Frontier, Jet Blue and United.
Here’s a recap of what SRQ has added since April:
Restaurants come and go, with around 60 percent of new establishments failing within the first year.
Those steep odds aside, the Bradenton area features several undeterred restaurateurs, and we’re all the better for it.
Several new restaurants have opened in Bradenton and across Manatee County this year, with even more to come.
Here’s a look at some of the new restaurants that have been featured in the Bradenton Herald and on Bradenton.com this year:
A Casa Tua
▪ The husband-and-wife team of Nicola and Maria Simone have moved up from being a catering and takeout business to a sit-down Italian restaurant, A Casa Tua, in a new location on Cortez Road. A Casa Tua, translated from Italian as “To your home,” serves authentic Italian cuisine in an unhurried, comfortable setting.
Bowled Life! Cafe
▪ The inspiration for Bowled Life! Cafe came from something slightly exotic that David Wheeler ate for the first time in Ocean City, Md. It was an acai bowl, and he discovered he liked the new food. It wasn’t long before David and his wife launched the Bowled Life! food truck and then the Bowled Life! restaurant in Palmetto.
▪ The husband-and-wife team of Jordan and Jason Kazbour opened BubbaQue’s BBQ in late July. The Kazbours embrace the company’s philosophy, spelled out on the BubbaQue website: “The only thing we take serious is our BBQ. From your very first contact with us until the second you wipe the last bit of BBQ off of your chin, we want you to have fun.”
Caesar’s Breakfast Cafe
▪ Long before he opened a restaurant in Bradenton, Caesar Montes was working in a midtown Manhattan restaurant during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Opening Caesar’s Breakfast Cafe in early September represented the realization of the American dream for Montes, his wife and his two daughters.
Chang Kao Thai Cuisine
▪ The husband-and-wife team of Brian Oliver and Pacharee Tunkanitlert have reopened the former Thai Spice restaurant as Chang Kao Thai Cuisine at 6233 14th St. W. In addition to a new name and new owners, Chang Kao features a new menu. Tunkanitlert has been cooking for about 30 years, including 20 in the United States.
Chateau 13 Restaurant & Wine Bar
▪ Château 13 Restaurant & Wine Bar brings western European cuisine to the heart of Bradenton. The menu reflects French, Spanish, Italian and Belgian influences, but with a Bradenton twist. Cheese and Charcuterie are a main focus, as are curated wines from around the world.
▪ Bryan Uzbay and Camryn Malaney opened EB Scoops at 441 Cortez Road W. in January, offering 24 flavors of ice cream.
Inkawasi Peruvian Restaurant
▪ Inkawasi Peruvian Restaurant opened in July at 10067 Boardwalk Loop. Inkawasi, literally Inca house, offers a diverse lineup of Peruvian cuisine.
Jersey Brothers Pizza and Pasta
▪ Jersey Brothers Pizza and Pasta brings a fresh take on traditional hand-tossed thin-crust pizza to the Bradenton area. There are nearly 20 types of pizza on the menu, ranging from supreme to margarita, Hawaiian and Sicilian.
Kostas Family Restaurant
▪ OK, so it’s not a new restaurant, but Kostas Family Restaurant closed for about three months before reopening in mid-February. When it reopened under new ownership, a familiar face was back to greet familiar customers.
▪ Combine old-world Italian cooking with down-home hospitality and you have Lamantini Trattoria, one of Manatee County’s newest restaurants. “We want to create an environment where you are as comfortable as being in your den at home with with family and friends,” owner Perry E. Muphree Jr. said.
Lucca’s Pizza & Wine Bar
▪ Lucca’s Pizza & Wine Bar wants to bring “a good Italian dining experience to downtown Bradenton,” chef Michael Bonsanto said. Pizza is at the heart of the menu at Lucca’s. An abundance of heroes, chicken entrees, veal entrees, seafood, baked dishes (ziti, lasagna and ravioli) and pasta dishes are also offered, along with appetizers, soups and salads.
▪ Mahana Fresh opened its first healthy-eating restaurant in September in Bradenton, and several more franchises are in the works in Florida and elsewhere in the United States. The restaurant offers three bowl sizes — Big Mahana, Mahana and Lil Mahana — and a variety of bases, veggies and proteins, as well as sauces and add-ons. All are gluten and antibiotic-free.
▪ Metro Diner opened its first restaurant in the Bradenton area and the owners are scouting other locations in Manatee County as well. “We have a scratch kitchen and everything is made fresh,” the restaurant’s managing partner said. “Large portions, affordable prices, exemplary service.”
▪ Nancy Krohngold has been serving her North Carolina-style barbecue in Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch for years, but she had been looking for a larger space in East Manatee. Hence the opening of Nancy’s Bar-B-Q on State Road 70. The new restaurant has seating for 150 as well as a full bar.
Petrosino’s Italian Deli & Market
▪ Turns out, a New Jersey-style deli, Petrosino’s Italian Deli & Market, was just what the Bradenton area needed. Who knew? “People really wanted this more than we thought,” one of Petrosino’s business partners said. ““The business is so good.”
▪ Pho Street, a restaurant featuring Vietnamese cuisine, opened in May at 4304 14th St. W. Also on the soup menu are chicken, seafood, shrimp and vegetarian pho, as well as specialty soups, such as wonton and combination noodle.
Riviera Dunes Dockside
▪ Nearly a year into their ownership of the 270-seat Riviera Dunes Dockside restaurant in Palmetto, owners Steve Bishop and Ron Fuller have overseen the near total revamping of the menu, as well as brightening and freshening of the Manatee River waterfront destination.
▪ Rockin’ Gelato, which combines ice cream with one of the area’s largest collections of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia, opened this year at 6646 Cortez Road W.
Sam’s Seafood & Grill
▪ Since opening in March, Sam’s Seafood & Grill steadily has been building a loyal clientele with its made-to-order seafood and other dishes. In addition to seafood, the restaurant, offers wings, burgers, Philly cheese steaks, Cubans, gyros and more.
▪ Shake Shack, a hamburger restaurant chain with a cult following, is now open near the Mall at University Town Center. Since starting as a hot dog cart in Manhattan to support the Madison Square Park Conservancy’s first art installation, Shake Shack has developed a legion of followers.
Silver Star East Restaurant
▪ The family-owned and operated Silver Star East Restaurant opened in May in Myakka City. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday, offering down-home cooking and a place “where friends meet friends.”
▪ Skyline Chili’s much-anticipated debut included an opening-day visit from a Major League Baseball player well versed in the Cincinnati-style chili and spaghetti. “A lot of people are excited. They have been waiting for this moment, not having to go up to Clearwater or Orlando to get it,” said Scooter Gennett, a Sarasota High graduate and former second baseman for the Cincinnati Reds.
▪ There is a lot of sizzle and taste in the wok at Thai Cafe, which opened in March at 4511 Manatee Ave. W. Owner Tuanchai Boonnun opened Thai Cafe with her friend, partner and mentor Grisna Cochran, who has more than 15 years experience managing restaurants. Also assisting with the operation is Boonnun’s sister, Boonsita Geden.
▪ Fans of Laura Betancourt’s acclaimed tacos, considered by some to be among the best in the Bradenton area, can enjoy a new indoor experience at The Spot, which also features burritos, quesadillas, tostados, sopes (a thick tortilla with vegetables and meat toppings), enchiladas, burgers, gorditas, flautas, smoothies and milkshakes.
TK Grill & Barbeque
▪ At TK Grill & Barbeque, the meals are food-truck tested, tried and true. Large, tasty portions, smoked right on the premises, make TK Grill a meat lover’s dream. And then there is TK’s Beast Challenge. If you can eat this gargantuan meal in 20 minutes, it’s on the house.
▪ Turtle Shack, whose slogan is “beach eats with Chicago attitude” is a lunch counter, take-out operation. The menu includes Chicago-style hot dogs, Italian Beef sandwiches, chicken wings, fried Twinkies, fried pickles, ice cream sandwiches and more.
Villa Italia Cafe
▪ The family that owns Villa Italia Cafe has a long restaurant tradition. “Even though we didn’t advertise that we were open, word got around on social media that the food was like what you would get in Italy,” the owner said.
Vinny’s Italian Kitchen
▪ Chef Vinny Esposito’s passion for Italian cuisine runs deep. It’s those tastes, and those from his Italian-American family in New Jersey that he joined when he was 17, that he seeks to share with guests at Vinny’s Italian Kitchen.
The Waffle Press
▪ They call them “walkable” waffles. The Waffle Press serves what the restaurant’s two managing partners call walk-up, scratch-made waffles and craft-roasted coffee. Oh, and the most important part: They’re made to be eaten at the beach.
Other new openings
▪ After a 16-month construction period, the $23 million, eight-story SpringHill Suites by Marriott hotel, offering a panoramic view of the Manatee River and a rooftop swimming pool, opened in May in downtown Bradenton.
▪ PGA Tour Superstore opened its seventh Florida store in July in the The Shoppes at University Town Center, 8237 Cooper Creek Blvd. The 40,000-square-foot store is located in the heart of a Manatee-Sarasota area that features dozens of courses and thousands of golfers.
Manatee’s first distillery
▪ After months of careful, meticulous preparation, fermentation and distillation, not to mention navigation of strict governmental oversight, Manatee County’s first distillery opened its doors to the public in July. Offering locally produced rum, gin and vodka, Loaded Cannon Distillery is located in Suite 110 of the Gatewood Corporate Center at 3115 Lakewood Ranch Blvd.
▪ Manatee County’s newest Publix Supermarket opened in September in the Gateway Commons of Manatee shopping center on the northeast corner of the intersection of Moccasin Wallow Road and Interstate 75. The store is Publix’s latest prototype at 48,387 square feet, featuring a deli in the round that can be approached by customers from all directions.
Board game cafe
▪ Table top cafes have become a trend around the United States, offering a place where people can put down their electronic devices and socialize over a board game. Table Talk SRQ, Bradenton’s first board game cafe, opened in September at 3999 Cortez Road W.