The iconic Longboat Key restaurant will remain open during construction.
Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant & Pub patrons may have to deal with a little dust and a smaller menu for the next five months or so. But they can still enjoy the waterfront views in Longbeach Village during the roughly $2 million expansion project owner Ed Chiles began this week.
A front-end loader tore into the old kitchen Wednesday morning, as contractors picked through the rubble to save Old Florida kitsch pieces that have defined the restaurant during its history. The redevelopment project, which will take place in two phases over the next year, includes the addition of a second story office and storage area, a new interior and a 37% larger kitchen.
The expansion will allow Chef George Quattromani to experiment with more specialized tasting menus, which include small-plate specialties, such as citrus grits and fish, and squash from Chiles’ garden.
“Chef George’s tail is just going to be wagging,” Chiles said. “That old kitchen was hot as Hades.”
During the first phase, in which the new kitchen will take shape, staff will work out of semi-trailers, which are already in place on site. The restaurant closed for lunch Wednesday as demolition began, but promptly reopened for dinner that evening. This phase should last until Christmas. When season ends in 2017, the second phase will begin with a new interior and the second story.
Architect Barron Schimberg, who Chiles hired for previous multi-million dollar renovations of the Beach House Restaurant and the Sandbar Restaurant, has included a potentially working water tower feature in the design for Mar Vista.
“I think it’s going to look awesome,” Chiles said.
Mar Vista’s redevelopment plans have evolved through five applications. The latest, before the amended site plan the Planning & Zoning Board approved in June, included second-story seating relocated from indoors. But, after standing on the roof earlier this year, the view just wasn’t as spectacular as he hoped due to the growth of surrounding trees.
Instead, in the latest proposal, seating under the porch will expand from 54 to 90 seats, and eight additional seats will move from indoors to beneath the trees at the waterfront.
“Anytime you mess with an institution, you have people who are going to be concerned,” Chiles said. “ But I’m excited about it. I think we got it right, and people are going to love it.”