Coquina Cafe opens, celebration planned this month

Without much fanfare, the Coquina Cafe at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach opened April 7, but a grand reopening celebration is planned sometime this month.

According to Manatee County Parks and Recreation programs and policies coordinator Mike Whelan, the Bradenton Beach concession is operational, but the public announcement of the opening was delayed for a reason.

“An official reopening is in the preliminary planning stages for some time in late May,” said Whelan. “There are a few cosmetic things we still want to get done first and the staff needs time to develop working procedures.”

The Coquina Cafe was expected to open in January in time to accommodate the busy tourist season, but was first delayed to a March opening, and then again to April.

The 40-year-old structure underwent a major renovation with the county investing $350,000. United Park Services, the cafe concessionaire, did the interior work, adding $110,000 to the project cost.

Manatee County Parks and Recreation director Cindy Turner previously called the renovation project a “significant effort.”

Turner said the roof and floor were raised 18 inches. Other improvements include a new metal roof, storm-resistant windows, stainless-steel countertops, air conditioning and new electrical wiring.

Turner said the inside of the building was gutted, making room for all new cooking and serving equipment.

To enhance the beach dining experience, a wooden deck dining area was added, including new tables, chairs and umbrellas.

The initial delay was for a certificate of occupancy. The CO was issued, allowing the cafe to start service April 7, but the county agreed to wait at least 30 days after receiving the CO to allow UPS to work out any issues with the new facility.

The staff now is training and serving Coquina Beach visitors in anticipation of the summer beach season.

Whelan said an official opening ceremony would be announced in the coming weeks.

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