The Longboat Key Historical Society will have more fish to fry this year.
And Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub will most likely do the frying.
Ed Chiles, owner of Mar Vista, canceled the Fish Fry and Fourth of July fireworks — the restaurant’s two major annual events — because of complaints about parking and noise from residents of the surrounding Longbeach Village who opposed his plan to expand his restaurant.
While it’s not a done deal, the restaurant will likely provide the food for the event at a new location: the backyards of Village residents Craig and Cathy Meldahl and their next-door neighbors, Craig and Georgia Walters.
“We wanted to be respectful of the wishes of the Village residents, but we’ll always be open to working with the Historical Society,” Chiles said.
The Fish Fry has taken place every year at Mar Vista since the Historical Society revived the old-time tradition in 2005.
After learning two weeks ago that Chiles planned to eliminate events from his Longboat Key restaurant, Historical Society President Shirley Beachum asked the Meldahls about holding the event in their backyard.
The Meldahl property is the site of many Village gatherings, some of which have drawn up to 140 people.
Cathy Meldahl said she didn’t want to see the Fish Fry tradition go away.
“A lot of people come to Longboat for that event alone,” she said. “It would have been sad to see it go.”
The two properties combined have approximately 2.5 acres that overlook Sarasota Bay. And, to Meldahl’s knowledge, there haven’t been complaints about noise and parking during past events.
The event will take place later than usual — Nov. 1, instead of the second Friday in October. Tickets will be $25, or $5 less than last year’s price. The Historical Society plans to rent a Port-O-Potty for the event and doesn’t anticipate parking problems because the properties are so large, according to Beachum.
“We want to thank them for letting us use their lovely yards,” Beachum said. “We plan to try to sell as many tickets as we can.”
Last year’s Fish Fry drew 150 people.
Chiles has submitted a new plan to the Longboat Key Planning Zoning and Building Department that doesn’t include restoration and meeting space for the historic Rufus P. Jordan House, the most controversial part of the application. The new plan calls for proceeding with the construction of a tree house with 11 additional seats.
The Planning and Zoning Board will discuss the plan at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 18.
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