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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Popular beach cafe closing for renovation

The Cafe on the Beach restaurant and snack bar at Manatee Public Beach in Holmes Beach will temporarily close on Aug. 23 for approximately eight weeks while Manatee County remodels the building and installs a new roof.

The county has agreed to allow Cafe on the Beach operators Dee Percifield and Gene Schaefer to set up a temporary hot dog and snack stand and a location for beach rentals. According to a letter from the county, Cafe on the Beach should have "temporary occupancy" of the refurbished building by Oct. 15, and will not be charged rent until it reoccupies the structure.

Manatee County owns the property and building and leases the space to a company owned by Percifield and Schaefer. The county commission last week approved $680,000 in needed repairs to the facility.

Percifield, who has operated the facility since 1992, said the repairs are necessary, but at the same time, she's sorry that a number of long-time staff might soon be looking for other jobs.

"I can only use one person in the gift shop, and I'm estimating that probably 45 to 50 people will be let go from the restaurant. Most of our people have been with us a long time, some since the beginning. It's really a shame. We'll probably lose a lot of them, but we really hope they will all come back." Some staff will be able to work at the Coquina Beach location that the couple also operate, Schaefer said.

At the same time the county is effecting its renovations, the Manatee County Parks and Recreation Department, which controls the facility and property, has increased the rent at Cafe on the Beach by $53,000 annually in a new 10-year lease agreement.

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