The building at 555 Bay Isles Parkway has been empty since late 2008, when restaurateur Paul Mattison closed Mattison’s Steakhouse at the Plaza.
But the building’s owner, W. Howard Rooks, hopes that will soon change.
On Nov. 18, he submitted a petition for a special exception to add 50 additional seats to an existing 1,600-square-foot outdoor patio to the restaurant’s current 210-seat capacity, for a total of 260 seats.
If granted, the petition would allow Rooks to “include an outdoor 50-seat sitting area that will provide food and alcohol as prepared inside the restaurant.”
Rooks told the Longboat Observer Friday that he hopes to open a restaurant in the building early next year with a partner who will serve as its chef and general manager. He declined to identify the potential partner or other plans for the restaurant.
Rooks also plans to update the building.
“There will be some additional improvements but I don’t know what and when,” he said.
Lakeland-based Publix Supermarkets Inc. purchased the adjacent 1.52-acre Town Plaza II for $1.25 million from Rooks in 2012 but wasn’t interested in the restaurant building. The chain began demolishing the shopping center in October to create more parking.
“The work that’s being done by Publix will give my restaurant a great deal more exposure because you’ll actually be able to see it from the street,” Rooks said.
Rooks paid $1.4 million for the 7,500-square-foot building that’s modeled after the Plaza Hotel, in New York City, in May 2004.
When Mattison closed his restaurant there in July 2008, he said off-season business had declined at the location since he opened there in 2003. Rooks told the Longboat Observer in 2010 that he hadn’t anticipated having difficulty attracting a new tenant, but the building remained empty as the economy declined.
The Longboat Key Planning & Zoning Board will consider Rooks’ request at its Dec. 17 meeting.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected].