Story Tools

Date of Issue: May 06, 2009

Gulf Drive Cafe clears a hurdle

A Bradenton Beach beachfront restaurant has cleared a hurdle — but still has more to go — before a major expansion takes place.

The Gulf Drive Cafe, 900 Gulf Drive N., has proposed a $500,000 expansion that includes a new parking lot, chickee hut, tiki bar and lobby, as well as a new kitchen and rest rooms.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection recently issued a stormwater permit for the proposed parking lot expansion, according to DEP external affairs manager Pamala Vazquez.

But other OKs are needed, including a city hall review and approval of the construction plans for building code compliance, according to Bradenton Beach building official Steve Gilbert.

The West Manatee Fire Rescue District also must sign off on life-safety aspects of the project.

Gilbert said, as of last week, he had not seen a set of construction drawings.

“Upon receipt of a formal building permit application, along with all of the associated paperwork, we will forward a copy to West Manatee Fire Rescue for their review, and will begin the process of building-code compliance review,” Gilbert said.

Bradenton Beach officials are familiar with the project.

Last summer, the city commission, attaching a number of stipulations, approved a preliminary design for the restaurant.

The commission vote followed a recommendation from the city’s planning and zoning board, which, when reviewing a preliminary design, focused on the proposed chickee hut.

“Chickee” or “chiki” is the Seminole word for house and the structures are considered by many Florida engineers to be among the simplest but most durable in hurricane-force winds.

A part of Native American tradition and culture, chickee huts built by members of the Seminole or Miccosukee tribes of Florida are exempt from the permitting process, though rules such as setbacks do apply. State and federal policies define a chickee hut as an open-sided wooden hut with a thatched roof of palm or palmetto or other traditional materials, devoid of electric, plumbing or other non-wood features and constructed by the Miccosukee or Seminole tribe.

The restaurant’s chickee hut would be used for special events, such as wedding receptions or executive lunches.

The commission, in its preliminary approval last summer, stipulated that the chickee hut would not be supplied with electricity or water and that no food or drink service would take place in the hut, with exceptions for private or permitted events.