Lease negotiations continue between the city of Bradenton Beach and the tenants of the Historic Bridge Street Pier restaurant, but there is excitement in the air for Roland Pena and his family.
While the lease is being finalized, the menus are being planned. Pena, who owned a short-lived Starfish Cafe in the back of Vitamin Seas Health Food store, 3228 E. Bay Drive, Holmes Beach, said the emphasis will again be on healthy food, but the pier restaurant won’t deprive anyone from indulging in favorite foods.
“This is going to be a family business and that’s pretty special to all of us,” he said. “So it makes sense to do everything we can to make sure that this restaurant is family-oriented. There will be something for everyone.”
“We’ll have two sides to the menu,” said Pena. “One side will be a healthy menu and the other side will feature all of your fried foods and other things people will like. We aren’t going five-star here. We plan on keeping the menu simple but good and affordable.”
On the healthy side of the menu, Pena said he’ll feature a lot of the staples from his former restaurant, including wraps, vegetable dishes, smoothies, herbal teas and more.
Pena said this is the first project he has been able to start that will involve his entire family. The former Starfish Cafe was only open February-July.
Initially, the restaurant was to be called Starfish by the Bay, but Pena said Karen Bell, the owner of the award-winning Star Fish Co. Seafood Market and Dockside Restaurant — just across the bridge in Cortez — wasn’t pleased to learn the Penas planned a similar name.
Shortly after his bid was selected by commissioners, Pena said, she let us know of her feelings. “There is a difference in the name and she is an Inc. and we are an LLC, and my attorney said we would win a legal battle, but asked if it was worth the fight.”
Pena said he didn’t want to start up his dream project under a negative umbrella so the family is considering other names.
Pena won the bid for the restaurant, bait kiosk and harbor master’s office. He plans to sublease the harbor master’s office to a water taxi company.
Rusty Roberts will run the Rusty Anchor Bait Shop at the kiosk outside the restaurant. His plans include having the bait shop open 24 hours a day.
“Not everyone can get out here during business hours to fish,” said Robertson. “A lot of people have to work until the evening. They end up having to buy some bad quality frozen bait at a grocery store. And people like to fish at night, too. We want to be here for everyone.”
There is no timeframe established by the city and Pena for the restaurant and bait shop to open. Lease negotiations with the city are ongoing and a pier renovation project is expected to start up in November.
While the renovation won’t impact the restaurant, it will close the pier. Pena said there is still much to do and he’s hopeful the opening of the restaurant will coincide with the reopening of the pier.
“We are not in a rush right now,” said Pena. “We know some things still have to get worked out, but we are all very excited to be part of the community.”