A new restaurant is coming to the Manatee River waterfront: The owners of Whiskey Joe's Bar & Grill broke ground on their new Manatee River location on Wednesday. Located near the intersection of I-75 and U.S. 301, the 12,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space will serve as a watering hole for tourists and a stay-cation spot for locals. Scheduled to be finished in January 2020, the restaurant was designed to embody the chain's “Floribbean” feel, embracing the sub-tropics with a pirate's swagger. Guests can expect waterfront views, fire pits, a tiki bar and a sandy beach to dig their toes into.

The restaurant's brand manager, Marty Duffany, said at the event that he strives to create an environment that is engaging for the whole family. Kids dining often “take one bite of a chicken nugget and are off,” he said. At Whiskey Joe's, there will be ample room for kids to romp on the beach, while parents get to sit back with chimichurri steak tacos and enjoy the view. Ensuring that all guests enjoy a moment of escapism on the waterfront is paramount to the Whiskey Joe's experience.

Manatee County Commissioner Priscilla Whisenant Trace said Wednesday that she is excited about a new restaurant coming to Ellenton and anticipates that it will bring a commercial boost to the area by creating 120 jobs and driving tourism to the area.

The Whiskey Joe's chain is part of the parent company, Specialty Restaurant Corporation, which has been family-run since 1958. Current president and chief executive officer John Tallichet may head a national business, but he says he wants to make sure each individual location feels local. He encourages promotion from within and, before opening, the entire Manatee staff will be bused to the Tampa location so they can be trained by “extended family.”

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