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Date of Issue: July 28, 2010

UPS takeover official at beaches

The Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, formerly Cafe on the Beach, bustles with business on United Park Services’ first day as operator July 21. Islander Photos: Nick Walter

Mark Enoch of United Park Services noticed a couple groups of people in the Manatee Public Beach parking lot July 21 snapping pictures of the concession building.

Curious, Enoch asked them why they were taking pictures of the building.

“We want to take pictures before the building is demolished,” Enoch said he was told.

Although the empty gift shop confused some beachgoers as to the future of the concession and shop, Enoch reassured them the building will remain open for business.

July 21 marked the first day of operations for UPS of the concessions at Coquina and Manatee beaches, and the official name change from Cafe on the Beach to Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe at the Manatee Public Beach.

County improvements at the Coquina concession will cost about $60,000 and include renovating the interior and replacing the roof.

At Manatee Public Beach, improvements also will be noticeable. The former gift shop is a shell, with much of the new shop inventory in the dining room, where staff created a smaller, temporary gift shop.

Enoch said the merchandise will only be in the dining room for about another week, at which time it will be moved into the store.

UPS last week added dozens of new lounge chairs for the beach, and soon will be unveiling new outdoor patio furniture.

Enoch said the transition has been challenging, but exciting.

“The biggest challenge is trying to get all the loose ends together,” he said.

Debbie Enoch, Mark’s wife and associate at UPS, said she’s been reassuring people at the concession that everything will soon return to normal.

“We’re enjoying this. Everybody is passing by and saying ‘hi,’” she said July 21. “We just want people to know that everything will return to normal in 10 days.”

Tommy Vayias, owner of Cafe on the Beach and operator of the restaurant for the last seven years, is staying on to run the business through July 31 and help UPS make its transition.

“I want to make it as smooth as possible for (UPS),” Vayias said, “and I want to make sure the people are served properly during the transition.”

Vayias, an Island resident, will then be taking some time off to relax and contemplate his next business venture.

But first, while he’s still at the helm, he plans to have a celebration to thank, along with his staff, the loyal supporters and the regulars at Cafe on the Beach.

Vayias plans to have entertainment and refreshments at the Cafe “Fun Farewell Celebration” party from 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Ricki & Frankie, Mike Sales and Karen Greenley will entertain.

Dee and Gene Schaefer of P.S. Beach Associates, who were the contract concessionaires at both beaches since 1992, have moved their gift shop, The Beach Shop, to Cortez and hope to open by Aug. 1.