Flavors of Tampa Bay: The Sandbar on Anna Maria Island

9:57 AM, Dec 3, 2010   |    comments
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Anna Maria Island, Florida - Beautiful sunsets, great food and a relaxing beach atmosphere, The Sandbar offers this and so much more. Owned by Ed Chiles, the son of the late Governor Lawton Chiles of Florida, this restaurant has been serving up fresh seafood since 1979.

This is what old Florida used to be like, just sit back and enjoy a million dollar view from the Sandbar's deck. Most tables are on the deck while some are right on the beach, but they all have a view of the Gulf of Mexico.

The food is classic beach dining with an emphasis on fresh seafood. There is plenty to choose from.

The Sandbar Seafood and Spirits


Business Hours: 11:30AM-10:00PM
Early Bird Special (Inside Dining Only) 4:00PM-5:30PM

100 Spring Avenue
Anna Maria, FL
Phone  (941) 778-0444

Here is a history of the Sanbar location according to the current owners: 

The tradition of entertainment and relaxation at the Sandbar dates back as far as 1913. In those days Anna Maria was only accessible by boat. Many people came from Tampa, landing on the bay side and making the short hike to "The Pavilion," a favored meeting place for local and tourist alike, and on whose site the Sandbar Restaurant now sits.  The only place around where you can actually put your toes in the sand while you enjoy fresh Florida seafood, fun, tropical music, a Sandbar signature Pina Colada and the soothing sounds of the waves tickling the shore.

In the 1930's a diving platform was erected on pilings, approximately 100 feet offshore and connected to the beach by a cable that met the "more adventuresome" could make use of, minimizing the chance of falling prey to sharks that inhabited the area waters. Local fisherman still refer to the platform, now marked only by 3 submerged pilings and visible only at low tide, as the "wire."

A mysterious fire engulfed "The Pavilion" in 1946. A "bucket brigade" was formed to protect the surrounding buildings, but legend has it that the owners didn't waste much water on the blaze. They subsequently placed two old army barracks on the spot and the Sandbar was born.

The Sandbar was traded around a bit in the following years. One owner, Mrs. Bernice Enaux, added a dance floor in the late 40's which did more to enhance the Sandbar's reputation.

The hurricane of 1950 did extensive damage to the building and wiped out what was left of the platform. Mrs. Enaux, not to be deterred, rebuilt and strengthened the building. After being sold by Mrs. Enaux in the early 60's, it once again saw a period of ownership by many.  Extensive remodeling, done in the early 70's removed the bar from the south side and added a new bar and lounge on the north side.

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