Meet the businesses of Whitney Beach Plaza.
In recent years, Whitney Beach Plaza has become Longboat’s own ghost town. Now, after a renovation, more tenants are moving in, and tenants hope the plaza will be a destination again. Meet the businesses of Whitney Beach.
6838 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The Longbeach Café opened in April 2014 and has built a following of regular regular customers.
“Everybody wanted something like this here,” owner Colleen Collandra said. “I used to work at another café in this location, so the Longboat people knew where it was, so that helped us. I was very comfortable here.”
The Longbeach Café provides one of the few early breakfast options on the Key, which Collandra believes helps it stand out.
“Everything here is homemade, and I have a lot of unique things on my menu,” Collandra said. “I also think I’m the only one who has cappuccinos and espressos.”
Caswell | Legal
6842 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
An attorney for more than 25 years, Chris Caswell opened his Longboat Key office at the beginning of 2014. His other office is in Sarasota.
“We chose this location because it’s centrally located between Anna Maria Island and Sarasota,” paralegal Jeanne Brittain said. “We have great faith in the plaza and that it will come back to life. It’s very beneficial to people so they don’t have to go into Sarasota.”
“It was slow to begin with, but with the help of the Chamber of Commerce and word of mouth, things are starting to really pick up,” Brittain said.
6854 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Saturday; noon to 8 p.m. Sunday
Business is strong for LBK Liquors, which opened its doors last July.
Ryan Snyder, who also owns the entire plaza, owns the liquor store, and the store’s three employees have been there since its opening.
“I think all three people here are really good, and it says a lot that we’ve been here since the beginning,” employee Jim Crawford said. “Our service is what makes us stand out.”
Bob Parrish, CPA, P.C.
6824 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday
Bob Parrish, who has been practicing on Longboat Key for more than 20 years, leased the former Engel & Volkers Florida space in July. His former office was in Harbour Square.
“It’s going great,” Parrish said. “We love it here. We felt like we needed more exposure to the public than where we were before.”
In addition to providing a wide array of services, Parrish is also an artist, with his work displayed in the Longboat Key Town Hall. He recently began selling his art at his office.
“We’re the only CPA firm on the island, so that makes us the best,” Parrish said. “We offer a lot of services, and I’m excited to begin selling my art too.”
6814 Gulf of Mexico
Hours: 4:30 to 9 p.m. daily
Since it opened in October 2008, the Bayou Tavern has been a Whitney Beach staple.
“At the time we opened, the plaza was still alive,” owner and chef Angelo Chiroli said. “For a while, though, we were one of the only businesses here.”
In spite of Whitney Beach's struggles, business at Bayou Tavern has been satisfactory.
“Business is as usual,” Chiroli said. “It’s calm during the summertime and very busy in the wintertime. That’s how it always is.”
6840 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; by appointment Saturday
Design 2000, which opened in July 2000, is the plaza’s oldest business.
“We’ve survived the good times and the not-so-good times,” co-owner and business manager Irina LaRose said. “The plaza used to be packed. When all that was gone, you felt like you were on a deserted island.”
At one point, the only businesses in the plaza were Design 2000 and Bayou Tavern.
“Things are coming back, so it’s exciting,” LaRose said. “Before, we were decrepit and desolate, and now everything feels new. We can already see the progress. It’ll be back in no time.”
Dogs for the Earth
6838 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 10 a.m. to noon Friday
Dogs for the Earth moved to Longboat Key from Anna Maria Island in March. Since it opened its doors on the Key, business has been booming.
“It’s beautiful and more centrally located,” co-owner Annie Weir said. “We’re very, very busy here. We’re very happy with the move.”
The company sells organic, eco-friendly dog food and products, which are made in a warehouse in Venice. It ships its food all over the country. The business also sells art, with proceeds going to different rescue organizations and other charities in the community.
“We’re organic from the start,” co-owner Kathy Splawn said. “A lot of people come to us after they make a decision to feed better food to their dogs. We’d like to share an eco-friendly lifestyle for pets.”
6850 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday; 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday to Saturday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday
The plaza’s newest shop opened Fourth of July weekend. The store’s owner, Jamie Snyder, is the wife of Ryan Snyder, the plaza’s owner. She opened the store to help the plaza in its revitalization.
“I’ve run retail stores before, and we figured this would be a good spot for one,” Snyder said. “There’s nothing like this on the north end of the Key. This helps close the gap up between St. Armands and Anna Maria.”
Rip Current sells a wide array of products, including clothing and home décor, in addition to souvenirs.
“We’re a beach boutique, not a souvenir shop,” Snyder said. “We have the same brands as those you can find on St. Armands but at a lower cost. There’s a little something for everybody.”
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