SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT
Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale walks on the day dock.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH – The franchisee for the restaurant on the Bridge Street Pier hopes to be open for the End of Summer Festival on Sunday, Sept. 2.
Dave Russell, co-owner of Rotten Ralph’s restaurants, said they had been given an opening date of Aug. 31, which gives them very little time to get ready to serve food.
“We would like to open with a limited menu,” Russell said. “We’re trying like crazy to be open to serve at least burgers and hot dogs for the crowd.”
Tom Edwards, project manager for Southern Cross Contracting, said at a meeting with the pier team last Friday that the pier would be opened in time for the festival.
Crews are putting the final touches on the pier refurbishment, which was slated to cost $2.2 million or less. However, costs have swelled to almost $2.5 million. The project includes a new structure for the restaurant plus a bait shop, dockmaster’s office, information kiosk and bathhouses.
Sections of the floating day dock for boaters visiting the pier but not staying overnight are being assembled south of the pier. From the day dock, visitors can see the brand new structural supports that were installed below the pier.
Bradenton Beach Programs and Projects Administrator Lisa Marie Phillips asked the city commission last Thursday about holding a grand opening at the pier during the Bridge Street Merchants festival. Mayor John Chappie said he would rather they have the grand opening after the restaurant opens. Now Russell and his mother, Doreen Russell, are hoping to be open with that limited menu. If not, they hope to hold a soft opening later in September with a full opening shortly after that.
The weekly pier team meetings have gotten shorter as they have run short of things to talk about. Edwards said at an earlier meeting that he hoped to develop a punch-list later this month of items that would need to be done prior to the city taking possession of the property.
As for the festival Sept. 2, visitorsmay be able to tour the pier and hopefully have a burger, hot dog and soft drink.