The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 47 - September 18, 2013


Sandbar renovation serves up history

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


Sandbar Manager Joe Rogers with the wall
of wine that divides the bar and main restaurant.

In 1911 it was a common site to see ladies in their long dresses, large hats and parasols parading down Pine Avenue from the Anna Maria City Pier where they disembarked from their steamers from Tampa or St. Petersburg. Their destination was a meeting place on the beach called The Pavilion, and incredibly more than 100 years, later that same spot in the sand remains one of Anna Maria Island’s favorite meeting places.

Ed Chiles had a love affair with Anna Maria Island dating back to fond memories of family vacations. In 1979, he purchased the Sandbar restaurant a location that had gone through many incarnations from its original days as an unassuming bathhouse. Through the years, Chiles made additions and improvements to the original building but it was inevitable that the Sandbar would eventually need a total renovation.

That day came in 2011 when the Sandbar was rebuilt from the sand up. According to Joe Rogers, the Sandbar’s manager, and Caryn Hodge, the marketing director for the Chiles Restaurant Group, the renovation had to meet a standard of authenticity that would honor and reflect the history of the property as well as embracing the future.

Rogers says the “old beach house look” was achieved with a combination of wood salvaged from piers on the Island, including the old city pier, which are now part of the bar and booth seating area; indoor table tops that have a driftwood-like finish; and a bar top that was custom designed with terrazzo emulating original flooring in many of the Island’s beach houses as well as other refined beachy touches.

The one addition that brings us into the 21st century is the cleverly conceived wine wall, which serves as both a divider between the bar and main restaurant and a display of popular wines.

The exterior deck that sits right on the wide beach also got a makeover in recent years with the addition of a third awning, providing even more shade, in addition to tables with umbrellas, fans and heaters in winter. The deck is on two levels, allowing for everyone to get a view of the water, and for the quintessential beach feel, ask for one of the toes in the sand tables.

But what really draws people to the Sandbar is the food. Joe Rogers says the Sandbar menu is continually evolving in an effort to introduce new types of food to its customers. The emphasis is always fresh local fish like grouper, snapper, mullet and Bottarga mullet roe used for flavoring prepared in a variety of ways, but he and his staff are always looking for innovative dishes to add.

Some of the recent additions are snapper collars, swordfish ribs, fish meatballs and healthy side dishes of kale, quinoa and lentils. The kids menu also has several healthy choices, and of course, the traditional beach burgers and the Sandbar’s famous grouper sandwiches are always available. In addition, the Sandbar has switched to organic greens that Rogers indicates have a fresher and better overall taste.

The Sandbar has a full bar in addition to featuring over 90 wines with traditional and local selections, including Lola, and many frozen drinks. There are few better views than from a barstool at the Sandbar looking out the enormous windows to the beach. In fact, according to Rogers, the large windows in the main dining room and comfortable renovation have made eating inside not just an after-thought, but a destination for diners.

Their Sunday Jazz Brunch between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. has been an enormous success, and sunsets continue to be an event with a bottle of champagne to the patron who guesses the right time. The Sandbar’s Wedding Pavilion has drawn raves from brides who want a real beach wedding. And don’t forget to get your Sandbar T-shirt, recognized all over the country, in the shop where you can also pickup casual dresses, hats and souvenirs.

What Chiles and his staff have done at the Sandbar will maintain the historic integrity of the Sandbar for generations to come. There are still plenty of ladies parading along Pine Avenue, but now thanks to a well thought out restoration effort, there is lots more to keep them interested during their walk.

Of course, the grand prize at the end of Pine Avenue is still the beach with the iconic Sandbar restaurant overlooking the glittering waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Like Joe Rogers says, “This is why we’re here.”


100 Spring Avenue
Anna Maria

11:30 a.m. – 10 p.m.
Every day

All major credit cards accepted

Valet parking available nightly


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

The value of a financial plan

Investment Corner

In a recent magazine targeting those of us in the financial services industry, the author of one article pointed out how representatives of the larger wirehouse brokerage firms like Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney and Morgan Stanley were moving to become more like independent advisors and to provide more broad financial planning advice. The article went on to say that many clients of these firms were paying $4,000 or more for the financial plan.

This caught my attention because $4,000 isn’t an inconsequential amount to most of us. I’ll be the first to say that spending a few thousand on a financial plan might be the best investment you could make in yourself for the future benefit of your family – if it is a good plan, and if you actually follow the plan.

My two “if’s” above are based on experience. The first potential problem with a financial plan is that it may be slanted toward promoting certain investment products or services which earn the financial planner who designed the plan a high level of compensation through sales commissions and trail fees. Representatives of brokerage firms are not required to disclose all conflicts of interest or their compensation when promoting these products.

That’s not to say your planner isn’t doing the right thing for you and recommending good investment products with reasonable fees, but there are questions that need to be asked. For example – is there a low-load or no-load equivalent investment that could be used instead of the one that pays the planner a 5 to 7 percent commission? After all, if you’re paying $4,000 or more for a financial plan in a binder to put on the shelf, should you also have to pay full commissions?

The next issue is implementing and following the plan. We’ve met many people who paid for financial plans, but when they bring them out to reference during a meeting, the pages inside are still pristine and the cover of the binder needs to be dusted off. This is a sign of good intentions that were not followed up on. Perhaps the initial plan was acted on in terms of allocating investment dollars, but then the progress of the plan is not monitored and adjusted as necessary.

A true financial plan is generally broad in scope, encompassing several areas related to your finances. Investment, tax planning and preparation, estate planning, and insurance are all generally included in a comprehensive financial plan. For some, with larger net worths (>5 million) and incomes that put them in the highest tax brackets, this comprehensive plan is a good idea.

For most, the important part of the financial plan is the retirement income component. In other words, having a plan for accumulating assets, so that when you decide to retire, those assets can create income, which can be used in conjunction with your Social Security benefits and any other pensions related to past employment to provide a good lifestyle with a low chance of you running our of money during your lifetime. This is known as a retirement income plan and is sufficient for most cases we have come across. And, it shouldn’t cost anywhere close to $4,000.

In summary, financial plans are fine if they are credibly designed with your interest in front of the planner’s interests and if you pull the plan off the shelf a couple times a year to check your progress and make necessary adjustments. Remember to ask questions about lower cost investments for the plan, and consider whether you need a full-blown financial plan or will just handling the more important portions be sufficient for you.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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