SUN PHOTO/TOM VAUGHT
Workers clean up the deck behind the restaurant on the Bridge Street Pier in preparation on its opening soon. The city has given the operators, Dave and Doreen Russell, permission to start moving in and they hope to be serving up breakfasts, lunches and dinner within a couple of weeks.
By Tom Vaught
sun staff writer
BRADENTON BEACH – While the pier isn’t open to anglers yet, the city has issued a temporary certificate of occupancy on the restaurant and the operators, owners of Rotten Ralph’s, have begun moving in furnishings.
The temporary certificate was signed last Friday at the weekly meeting of the pier team as Dave and Doreen Russell, who are the franchisees, watched.
Tom Edwards, of Southern Cross Contracting, Inc., the contractor for the $2.5 million pier refurbishment project, warned them about bringing delivery trucks up to the circle in front of the restaurant.
"They’re paving it today and the asphalt is still soft," he said. "Try to go around it and don’t let them track it into the restaurant."
With that, Edwards, architect Thomas O’Brien, Bradenton Beach Police Chief Sam Speciale, city programs and projects manager Lisa Marie Phillips and Mayor John Chappie signed the papers that made it legal to start furnishing the restaurant.
City officials went through the site last week developing a punch list of things that needed to be done to finish the job. Speciale said at the meeting last Friday that the punclist was small and Edwards predicted the items would be taken care of by the next Monday. Temporary signs advertising the restaurant were to have gone up this week and the Russells predict the restaurant will be open in a week or two. Until then, Speciale said the pier would probably remain closed to the public.
After the papers were signed, some of the participants had praise for the people and the process.
"This has been a very pleasant experience with no negative surprises," Doreen Russell said.
O’Brien, who belongs to the Bradenton Yacht Club, said that he and his organization are excited about the project because it will add to the possibilities for boaters.
"In the recent past, all we’ve see have been marinas closing and docking privileges being taken away," he said. "We are excited that Bradenton Beach is making themselves very hospitable to weekend cruisers."
Speciale praised the mayor, who put the city’s department heads on the pier team.
"People ask me why we’re involved in this and I tell them because we all work together," he said.
O’Brien had praise for the contractor.
"Thanks to our friends at Southern Cross," he said, "it’s been a great experience."