Before the first burgers could be flipped or the first beer poured at the new Ed's Tavern in Lakewood Ranch, co-owner Bob Bender received some important feedback about his restaurant.
Bender was nervous because he had to hire 65 employees, a daunting task in today's work environment.
"In today's world, you just can't find help," Bender said. "But we hired 65 people with no problem. When people come here, they won't find half the sections of the restaurant closed because we don't have enough help. We are fully open. It says something about the strength of our brand and our recognition.
"People want to be part of Ed's. They make good money and they are treated fairly."
The Lakewood Ranch area's second Ed's Tavern started with a soft opening on Friday followed by a full opening to the public on Saturday. The restaurant is located just off Upper Manatee River Road at 1305 108th St. E.
Co-owner Adam Myara said it was a great feeling as he came to the restaurant on Friday.
"I'm excited," Myara said. "I walked in, the TVs were on, the music was playing, and people would walk in and say, 'Wow!'"
Bender and Adam and Albert Myara announced in May they would open a second Ed's Tavern and noted they were aiming for a December grand opening. They only missed by a month, which with the current supply chain issues, was impressive.
"We were building from the ground up, so it was an ambitious time frame," Bender said. "This is a unique indoor/outdoor space."
Bender noted the outdoor temperature of the patio section of the restaurant is maintained at the same temperature as the inside. An accordion-style, glass wall folds inward to open up the restaurant to its full 4,200-square foot potential, or closes to provide separation for those who want to enjoy the outdoors setting. The bar serves both indoor and outdoor patrons, but screens can close to protect those sitting outside from the elements, if needed.
While the physical layout is "bigger, and more" than the original Ed's Tavern at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, the new restaurant has the exact food and cocktail menus as the original. The regular specials and events that are so popular at the original Ed's Tavern will be implemented at the new restaurant, probably around February. Bender said they want to make sure his staff has everything down pat in terms of service before moving forward. Several of the staff members moved over from the original restaurant.
"But now they have new table numbers, and they have to get used to new computers," Adam Myara said.
Bender said many of his customers at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch live close to the new restaurant and couldn't wait for it to open.
"Many of our existing customers come from this area, and we are genuinely thrilled to be closer to them," Bender said.
The restaurant immediately will be hosting live music every Friday and Saturday night.
Parrish's Kristen Whidden was enjoying a cocktail during the soft opening. She said she loves the original Ed's Tavern.
"I actually like this better," she said. "And it still has that family atmosphere."
Bartender Ashlyn Davis moved over from the original location.
"I like this because it is something new," she said. "But we just need to keep doing what we normally do."