Beach Café celebrates first anniversary
SUN PHOTO/CINDY LANE
The Anna Maria Island Beach Café celebrates its one-year
anniversary this week under new management.
HOLMES BEACH – The Anna Maria Island Beach Café is quietly observing its first anniversary under new management this week.
"No celebration is planned," said Mark Enoch, one of the partners of United Park Services (UPS), with his wife, Debbie, and Alan Kahana, who lease the facility from Manatee County.
The former concession stand at Manatee Public Beach at the end of Manatee Avenue, which once had a flat roof accessible for dances, is a popular meeting place for tourists and locals alike.
UPS has made a few changes, painting the pink building yellow, remodeling the gift shop, turning the indoor dining room into an ice cream parlor and building a tiki bar around the all-you-can-eat pancake buffet.
Other improvements include a new awning at the door to the café leading to the parking lot and upgrading the rental chairs and umbrellas.
They also tweaked the menu, adding wraps, fish tacos, fresh squeezed lemonade, and upgrading the ice cream to Edy's. Candy soon will be available in the ice cream parlor.
Earlier this month, UPS demolished an old shed south of the main building, opening up visibility from Manatee Avenue to the Gulf of Mexico, Mark Enoch said.
"Everybody's been really positive about the changes," he said, adding that he's happy with the number of customers at the café, especially on Friday nights, when Mike Sales provides live music and leads a drum circle a half-hour before sunset.
Planned improvements include a mural with a beach theme on the east side of the gift shop, which will be painted by high school students who win a competition sponsored by the Manatee County Cultural Alliance this fall. The competition would continue each year with a new theme and a new mural, Enoch said.
Other plans include new landscaping to conceal a fence to the side of the building, and a new sign is expected in the next two weeks similar in size to the existing sign. The Holmes Beach City Commission did not approve a 19-foot tall sign proposed by Kahana.
Commissioners also discouraged his proposal to move some tables and chairs from the cement patio onto the sandy beach.
United Park Services also operates the concession stand at Coquina Beach in Bradenton Beach, but has not made changes there because Manatee County has plans to demolish and rebuild it, Enoch said, adding that UPS will operate a concession trailer there during construction.
UPS also has operated concession stands, bait shops and kayak and bike rentals at Fort DeSoto Park in Pinellas County for five years.