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Officials celebrate Coquina Beach concession reopening

By Mark Young, Islander Reporter

Coquina Beach concession operator Mark Enoch, of United Park Services, welcomes guests to the grand reopening of the renovated concession stand May 23, which was attended by several county commissioners and other county officials. Islander Photos: Mark Young

Manatee County Commissioner and Bradenton Beach resident John Chappie addresses a crowd of county officials at the May 23 grand reopening of the Coquina Beach concession stand.

Manatee County commissioners and officials conduct the official reopening of the Coquina Beach concession stand May 23 with a ceremony that included County Commissioner John Chappie cutting a nautical rope to signify the opening.

“You should have seen it before the renovation” was a common theme amongst speakers at the May 23 grand reopening ceremony of the Coquina Beach concession stand.

United Park Services Inc. took over concession operations in July 2010 and, after a short time working in the old facility, moved concession operations to a trailer while awaiting the building’s renovation.

Mark Enoch of UPS said it was worth the wait.

“It’s wonderful,” said Enoch. “It was no fun working out of a trailer for the last six to eight months, but it’s been worth the wait because the old building was pretty rough.”

The concession stand will offer beachgoers plenty of food choices, but beer and wine is off the menu, unlike Enoch’s sister operation on Manatee Public Beach, in Holmes Beach.

Earlier this year, Bradenton Beach commissioners rejected an alcohol permit for the stand, despite an official request from Manatee County Parks and Recreation director Cindy Turner and support from Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore.

Enoch said he will continue to work with the county to alleviate the city’s concerns with selling beer and wine at Coquina Beach.

“We’ll work with the county and the city to address their security concerns,” he said. “We are happy with the building, but are hoping we will eventually get to sell beer and wine so we can start having entertainment here and expand the menu.”

Manatee County Commissioner John Chappie, a 38-year resident of Bradenton Beach, congratulated Turner and her department for producing a good facility.

“It was a long time coming to do this concessionaire,” said Chappie. “Manatee Public Beach was recently named as one of the state’s top 10 beaches for families and they got that designation because of the hard work of (Turner) and her department.”

Chappie said Coquina Beach is now worthy of that level of recognition.

“(Coquina Beach) is number one in my book,” he said. “Not only in Florida, but in the country. This is not the end of what we are doing here. It’s only the beginning.”

Turner confirmed that statement with a list of projects along the beach that have been completed, and more to come. Turner said the Gulf-side rest rooms are scheduled to be remodeled, paving and landscaping is planned for the bus loop and a new ship-themed playground area is two-thirds completed.

“Since 2006, we have worked hard to significantly improve our beaches,” said Turner. “But we have a particular focus on Coquina Beach.”

More than $300,000 was invested by the county for concession renovations, including a new roof, wood deck, wiring, expanded gift shop, an ice cream station and much more.

United Parks Service invested an additional $50,000 in the concession interior, which features new cooking and serving equipment.

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