LAKEWOOD RANCH — It requires a special balance to take over an established restaurant from a friend and make it unique, without losing its character.
Albert Myara and Bob Bender, new business partners and veteran restaurateurs, became the owners of Ed’s Tavern on Lakewood Ranch Main Street Feb. 3 — less than two weeks after the restaurant and its founder John Breiner, celebrated the tavern’s five-year anniversary.
“You have to step in and do your own thing,” said Myara, who always admired Ed’s Tavern and began negotiating to buy it the week before Christmas. “But I’ve known John forever. The food is delicious. The restaurant is successful. There won’t be significant changes.”
Their first week on the job, Myara, also the owner of Bogey’s Restaurant & Sports Pub on State Road 70 (and its Venice location), and Bender, a recent transplant to Lakewood Ranch from Miami who is a franchisee of multiple Friendly’s restaurants in Pennsylvania, spent time bridging the gap between the old and the new.
They met their staff, whom they promised to keep, and introduced themselves to customers, although Myara says 90% of the regulars at Ed’s Tavern already knew him well from his 12 years living in Lakewood Ranch.
They cleaned and repainted the restaurant’s ceiling so that it looks solid black.
They vowed to upgrade the televisions, with sleeker models that show additional sports channels, to make the outdoor seating area into a patio with a covered roof like its neighbor, Pincher’s Crabshack, and to install an Ed’s Tavern sign outside the front entrance to give the restaurant “more curb appeal.”
Myara and Bender also said they will hang new sports memorabilia on the walls, purchase a beer chiller for mugs and give the restaurant a “fresher, brighter look.”
But the menu will stay the same — the business partners have special affection for the funnel cake fries — and Ed’s Tavern will continue to host and sponsor events, including a classic car show the first Wednesday of every month.
To avoid burnout that can come from running a restaurant that stays open until 2 a.m. — and to help juggle work from their other ventures — Myara and Bender will share responsibilities.
They did not know one another before partnering to own Ed’s Tavern.
“We met and hit it off,” Myara said. “You can share the burden of work. It’s easier on everybody.”
Myara said he will rely heavily on the managers of his restaurants as he floats between running them.
He said Ed’s Tavern even can share resources with Bogey’s — such as manpower — if needed, and that he will operate with greater buying power when he buys ingredients from vendors, because the restaurants require similar foods.
Myara hopes his familiarity with Lakewood Ranch will foster a smooth transition.
He says he formerly worked at Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, Lakewood Ranch’s developer, under John Swart, the retired former president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty. Through his work at SMR, and travels through Lakewood Ranch, Myara says he met Breiner.
He is respectful of Breiner’s success but is eager to build off of it.
“People love John (Breiner) and will be upset that he’s gone,” Myara said. “The business does well and will do a bit better, we hope.”
John Breiner, the founder of Ed’s Tavern who sold the restaurant to Albert Myara and Bob Bender, thanked his customers for their support:
“I’ve been overwhelmed with good wishes from all of the great people my wife, Jackie, and I have met,” Breiner said. “We would like to thank all of the people who have supported Ed’s and the Lakewood Ranch community over the last five years. Although one chapter is closing, we look forward to bringing new and exciting ventures in the future. I’m sure we will be seeing you all soon.”
Contact Josh Siegel at [email protected].