Cortez Passport promotes businesses, historic culture

Cortez passport program
The Passport booklet contains information on the program and a map of the participating businesses and non-profit organizations. - Joe Hendricks | Sun

CORTEZ – The merchants of historic Cortez village unveiled their forthcoming passport promotion at the Florida Maritime Museum on Wednesday, May 16.

The intent is to have passport holders visit at least 12 participating businesses and get their passports stamped. Once 12 stamps are acquired, the passport holder receives a free, Cortez Explorer, jersey-style T-shirt from the Florida Maritime Museum at 4415 119th St. W. in Cortez.

The official passport launch will take place during the Coastal Community Celebration at the museum on Thursday, June 7 from 6 to 8 p.m. After that date, free passports can be obtained at any participating location.

The participating locations are AMI Dolphin Tours, Annie’s Bait & Tackle, Beach’n Rides & Rentals, Bradenton Boat Club, Bunny & Pirates, Cortez Bait & Seafood, Cortez Cafe, Cortez Deep Sea Fishing, Cortez Kitchen, Cortez Surf & Paddle, Cortez Watersports, Flippin’ Mullet Sports Bar, King Triton Excursions, Legend Fishing Charters, O’Shucks Raw Bar & Grill, The Sea Hagg, Seafood Shack, Star Fish Company, Swordfish Grill, The Beach Shop, Tide Tables, Tyler’s Ice Cream, YOLO adventures and WAVES Social Boat Club. The Florida Institute for Saltwater Heritage (FISH), the Cortez Cultural Center and the Florida Maritime Museum and Folk School are also participating in the passport program.

Passport preview

Several participating business owners attended last week’s passport preview party, joined by museum staff, County Commissioner Steve Jonsson and many others.

Museum Supervisor Kristin Sweeting, Tyler’s Ice Cream owner Dan Alderson, Swordfish Grill General Manager Bob Slicker and Seafood Shack Director of Marketing Liza Kubik addressed the attendees.

Before that, Slicker shared his thoughts with The Sun.

“It’s all about community and preserving and promoting the oldest historic fishing village in Florida. This ties in perfectly, and it’s why the idea came up. It also gives us a stronger voice at County Commission meetings. We can all now go as a collective business group. It’s all about keeping Cortez the Cortez we love,” he said.

“From a business perspective, it will draw more people to our business, but we’re fairly busy already. When Dan and I first came up with this, it was more about getting all the businesses together on the same page to give us a voice with issues like the bridge and some of the development taking place. So many people don’t know the museum and some of these businesses are here, so we’re trying to create foot traffic. It’s one-and-a-quarter-mile on foot hitting all these places on the passport and the shirts are pretty cool,” Slicker said.

When addressing the crowd, Sweeting said, “Passport is a cooperative neighborhood initiative created to support the Florida Maritime Museum while also bringing awareness to the area and what it has to offer. The passport will drive traffic to local businesses and non-profits. You don’t have to purchase anything; it’s completely free, but we highly recommend you stay, shop and visit because they’re all great community members.”

Alderson said he walks the village daily, and there’s always something to see.

“Our goal is to make Cortez a destination. We’re hoping to learn through this promotion what works and what doesn’t work, and then keep that momentum going so we have visitors coming here all the time,” he told the audience.

Kubik said her role pertained more to the actual production of the passport.

“We called this a neighborhood initiative because it is truly a neighborhood that has come together to get a message out for the betterment of the entire community. I just got to see the passport today, and I could not be more proud,” she said.

During the event, guests enjoyed appetizers from some of the local restaurants and afterward many enjoyed the ice cream sandwiches provided by Tyler’s Ice Cream.