SUN PHOTO/MAGGIE FIELD
Visitors relax on the front porch of The Olive Oil
Outpost on Pine Avenue.
ANNA MARIA - Since Pine Avenue Restoration completed its first two buildings in 2009, the street has evolved from a sparse collection of mostly real estate offices into a growing business district offering boutique shopping in a tranquil neighborhood setting.
"It has transformed the experience that people have when they come to Anna Maria," Micheal Coleman, of PAR, explained. "When our most recent set of buildings at 216/218 opened, it expanded the street, and it became a walking district. Now people have interesting things to see and do."
In addition to PAR's three sets of buildings, Lizzie Vann and Mike Thrasher have added the Historic Green Village, which includes the Village Café at Rosedale; the Sears Cottage, now Relish in Resourcefulness; and Thelma by the Sea. They also have renovated Beach Bums and the Anna Maria General Store and Deli.
The Studio at Gulf and Pine, an art and culture center, anchors the Gulf Drive end and the shops at Bayview Plaza, the street's only shopping area for many years, anchors the Bay Boulevard end. There the city pier juts out into the bay.
"The business owners are setting a standard for green, responsible development," Coleman declared. "It's the greenest downtown in America.
"You can forecast the benefits that accrue when you step into a vision. To be sitting on this porch having this conversation is realizing the dream."
How PAR began
"Pine Avenue has always been Anna Maria's main street," explained Ed Chiles, of PAR. "It languished for many years. The nexus for the revitalization is when we lost a critical business, the marina, and saw four houses built there.
"Mike and I got together and said we can't allow this to happen. We laid out our vision for historical design, green initiatives, native landscaping and boutique retail under residential that would reflect the character of the city."
Chiles said the pair secured 15 lots and went to the city with renderings showing that they wanted to do less than allowed and received approval. They are now completing their fourth set of buildings at 306/308 and have plans for 313 to begin in the fall and the final two at 208/210 for 2012.
"In a short amount of time, the street has blossomed beyond what I thought," Chiles continued. "I hoped others would follow, and the Thrashers have done that. I couldn't be more pleased.
"The people who are the heart and soul of the shops are so important and vital to our community. Small business is one of the most important threads that make up the fabric of a community."
Take a walk down the street from Gulf Drive to Bay Boulevard and discover what it has to offer.
The Studio at Gulf and Pine
Corner of Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue
The Studio welcomes artists, poets, musicians, performers and writers to exhibit their talents and exchange ideas. It presents lectures, classes and discussion groups from the Lifelong Learning Center, art exhibits, demonstrations and workshops, is equipped with a theater film projection room and offers rental space.
"I think that the bustling private enterprise now emerging on Anna Maria, along with our school, churches, Community Center and, of course, Publix, will encourage a more resident Island population," said owner Rhea Chiles.
"I am really pleased when folks tell me that the ambiance of The Studio was a factor in their decision to move to the Island."
The Studio is open from 1 to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday from June through September and from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday from October through May.
Pink and Navy, 216C
This shop offers upscale women's and men's clothing, furniture, art, home décor, jewelry, baby gifts and books. It also offers a humanitarian section that includes jewelry made by women in Uganda to help them rise out of poverty, and home décor by Stray Dog Designs that addresses critical needs such as housing and food.
Coming soon is Tom's Shoes, an organization that donates a pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair purchased. Tom's also will be offering eyewear to help fund eye care for those in need.
"It's been a great thing," owner Janae Rudacille said of the new businesses. "It's good for locals because they have places to go and places to bring their guests.
Pink & Navy is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Bella by the Sea, 218C
Find women's apparel, including specialty boutique brands such as Nic and Zoe and Luna Luz, jewelry, vintage wicker, seagrass and bamboo handbags, gift items and industrial repurposed furniture at this shop. It features items from organizations that put women back into the work force.
"I chose to be here," owner Jo-Ann Lefner said. "I looked at many different places to open my store and there's no better place to be."
The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5-ish p.m. and adds Sunday hours during season. Lefner said to watch for special events such as fashion shows and gift nights.
Anna Maria General Store and Deli, 307
Groceries, including Greenleaf cheeses, Tyler's ice cream, Mixon fruit juices, organic items and an extensive wine selection, are available for shoppers. In addition, the deli features delights prepared by Chef Vincenzo such as meatballs and rice balls, as well as quiches, sandwiches made to order and homemade salads.
A selection of cakes, pies and other treats made locally by Hometown Desserts and fresh baked Tuscan bread are available daily. Whole desserts can be ordered.
Clerk Sue Peterson said the new additions on the street "are fantastic and bring cohesiveness."
Owned by the Thrashers, the store is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, until 10 p.m. on Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays.
Lor-Ell's Front Porch Salon, 317C
Owner Loretta Hopps offers haircuts, color, perms, highlights and lowlights in this cheery salon, which is open from Tuesday through Saturday from 10:30 a.m. until the last customer is served.
Hopps, who had a salon on the street for many years, before moving to the new location in 2009, said, "It's 100 percent better. There are people walking up and down the street looking at the shops and people sitting on the porches. It's been wonderful for business."
Island Podiatry, 317C
Dr. Clare Starrett offers medical and surgical foot care at this location on Monday, Wednesday and Friday by appointment. She has X-ray equipment on premises. Starrrett's podiatry practice has been located on Pine Avenue in another location since 1994, and she moved it into the PAR building in 2009.
"It's been great with all the improvements," she said. "What PAR and Lizzie have done is fantastic."
Emerson's Studio Store, 317C
Artist Emerson Quillin sells his original art, published cartoon prints and custom art. In addition, he licenses illustrations to companies to put on their products that include greeting cards, cocktail napkins, apparel, serving trays, ceramic mugs aprons and art stamps, all available in the store.
"It's made Pine Avenue a destination," said Emerson's wife, Claire. "There's great shopping and places to eat and drink. I love the porches on the shops because people can sit out front."
The store is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Flip Flop Shop, 315C
Mike and Susan Brinson operate this shop next door to their Island Accommodations business. It features totes, rugs, jewelry, tumblers, towels, beach gear and, of course, flip flops. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
"We love all the new shops on the street," Susan said. "It's a whole new area on the Island to shop and eat. Everyone that comes into the shop says, 'We love what's happening here and what you're doing.'"
Timeless Treasures, 315C
Tammy Anazalone shares space with the Flip Flop Shop and specializes in reclaimed painted vintage furniture in beach house cottage and shabby chic coastal styles. You also will find books by local authors, linens, jewelry and other gift items. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
The Island Cabana, 403C
Nancy Lee carries unique gifts, home décor, resort wear, totes, handbags jewelry and baby items and is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Lee said the street has become a destination, but kept its charm and noted, "More people are walking and greet people on their porches as they go by. It's like a neighborhood now, and tourists comment on how friendly we are."
Island Concierge Service, 401C
Susanne Arbanas offers visitor information and assistance in marketing and networking to local business owners. She is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and every third Friday at 5:30 p.m., a porch party attracts people for raffle prizes, food and live music.
Future plans include a co-op for local retail providers, artists and musicians, and Arbanas explained, "It gives people an opportunity to be on the street if they can't afford to rent a storefront and a presence on our website."
The Olive Oil Outpost, 401C
Kelly Kary caters to cooks with a wide selection of olive oil, olives, tapenade, pesto, herbs, spices, pasta, vinegar, salt, seasoning, cheese and more. Summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and hours during season are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Kary, whose original store was in Sarasota, said she was enticed to move to Pine Avenue by Chiles and Coleman and explained, "I came up here a couple of weeks in a row and watched the people and the traffic.
"I knew I'd be the only one for awhile but I could see the vision, that it was going to be something good. I see something that was sleepy is awake now. It has good momentum."
Beach Bums, 427
Lauren Sato and Diane Havelka took over this renovated business from the Thrashers and rent eco-friendly transportation – bicycles kayaks, street legal electric golf carts, electric bicycles and battery-powered scooters. They also rent baby equipment, provide guided kayak tours and sell beach supplies, gifts, souvenirs, T-shirts, jewelry and toys.
"Many of our guests say they are pleased with how the businesses are increasing, but we are keeping the small town atmosphere," Havelka said. "Families love to come here because they feel safe, and it's like living in a neighborhood."
Summer hours are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. During season, they are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Village Café at Rosedale, 503
Stop by for organic fair trade coffee, pastries, soups and salads from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily at this café owned by the Thrashers. Watch for a new menu, including vegetarian and gluten free items, and special events such as game nights on Wednesdays after 6 p.m., movie nights on Fridays, presentations, BBQs on the deck and live music.
"We are pleased to restore the important historic cottages of the old Anna Maria and make them open to locals and visitors alike," Vann Thrasher said. "We see it as a good thing that we link our history to tomorrow's green technology and make Pine Avenue a great place to be."
"We're working hard to ID the values we've set for ourselves – to give back to the community, use green technology and sustain ourselves within the local economy," Manager Lydia Beljan added.
Relish in Resourcefulness, 505
Find vintage clothing, upcycled jewelry and clothing and reclaimed designer clothing at this eclectic store owned by Rhonda Grote. Hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday and Monday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, 1 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.
"What's happening it's a positive thing because its high quality businesses from fashion forward to hand crafted," Grote pointed out. "The locals are supporting us until the tourists discover us.
"Every Wednesday from 5 to 6:30, I have a gal pal party with drinks, treats and a special discount. It's fun to have a place to bring your girlfriends."
Pine Avenue and South Bay Boulevard
Two Sides of Nature, owned by David LaBell is at one end of the plaza and offers women's clothing in bright happy colors, purses and jewelry from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily.
Chapae owner Pat Slusser stocks men's, women's and children's clothing, jewelry, hats, glasses, handbags, greeting cards, scarves and gift items and is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. She said she is happy with the new shops on the street because "competition is good; it brings more people to the street."
Reagan Paige carries women's apparel, sportswear and accessories in a boutique setting from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
"I'm glad they're here," owner Eric Flodberg said of the new shops. "It brings more people because there's a wider variety to choose from."
He said the boardwalk under construction at the city pier "is a huge plus. It luxury tropical look will help draw more people here."
Stop by Two Scoops for breakfast fare, sandwiches, drinks, ice cream treats, candy and snacks from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 on Friday and Saturday. LaBell also owns this store.
A third store owned by LaBell is Two Sides of Nature at the other end of the plaza. It carries gift items, clothing, sandals, beach and kitchen items, glasses, totes and caps. Hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
City pier, 100 South Bay Blvd.
The historic city pier turned 100 years old this year, and is one of the most popular destinations in the state. It appeals to residents and tourists as a fishing spot, a dining destination or a beautiful place to take a leisurely stroll.
The restaurant offers lunch and dinner with happy hour and early bird specials Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 p.m. It is open from 11a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with live music starting at 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, weather permitting.
Fishing is free when you purchase anything at the restaurant or bait shop. The bait shop is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bait shop has frozen bait, tackle and seasonally live bait.