SARASOTA COUNTY - After more than 60 years, the Snook Haven restaurant in Venice shut down last year after the operator couldn't make payments to Sarasota County. Monday after seven months the popular landmark along the Myakka River is open again.
Since May many had been awaiting its return. Venice resident Mike Pachota along with his wife, son, and daughter-in-law have formed a team to bring the icon under the oak trees back. "We are trying hard to keep everything about Snook Haven the way it used to be."
However, after the last concessionaire failed, owing more than $40,000 to the county, some things had to change. "The bar used to be right here. Now it is all kitchen."
A new kitchen to go along with a new smokehouse menu. Some of the first through the door like Venice resident Terry Tingley are taking notice. "The place looks 150% better on the inside then it ever has. The outside is still wild and wonderful."
Those who have never been down the dusty road at the end of Venice Avenue quickly get it. "I just like the outdoors. I like the river. I am the type of guy who likes this over a franchise," says patron Al Simon.
The county purchased the two and half acre site in 2006 as part of its sensitive lands program for $2.6 million. The new 10 year deal has a percentage of sales going back. It's also employing 45 workers. "To have a good private public partnership there does have to be some cooperation and give and take. The county so far the county has been very interested in making sure things turn out the way they need to be," says Pachota.
They might just know what they're doing. The Pachota's also started and still operate Sharky's on the pier. It makes a reported $9 million in annual revenue with a percentage of sales going to the city of Venice. "Deja vu on this. It's kind of how Sharky's started out 26 years ago."
A piece of paradise where the palms poke through the planks primed for patrons once again. "This is a treasure that not many communities have," says Tingley.
To start the restaurant is only open for lunch but they hope to have it open for dinner within the next few weeks.
Live music, pontoon boat tours, and canoe rentals will also be coming back. The popular banjo players will be out starting Thursday. Boat rides beginning in just a few weeks.