Editor's Note: The Gasparilla Magazine Joy Rides are designed to spotlight attractions within driving distance of Gasparilla Island. This month's subject is the Coyne's Pier 28 restaurant in Sarasota just 44 miles from Boca Grande.
Opening a restaurant in the off-season can be the kiss of death if the business is dependent on volume or it can be the perfect way to work out the kinks if funding is stable.
Coyne's Pier 28, a joint family venture of father, Vinnie Coyne Sr.; son, Vinnie Coyne Jr.; and sister, Sandy Coyne is off to a hot start during this scorching summer and is attracting thirsty crowds with its fun and sophisticated drinks menu and mouth-watering seafood offerings at the Westfield Sarasota Square Plaza just off U.S. 41.
From left: Coyne’s Pier 28 co-owner Sandy Coyne, Vinny Coyne Jr. and his wife, Chris Coyne.
It's also reaching out to attract customers with special events such as co-hosting an Aug. 16 rum, port, cigar and food tasting with Maduro's Cigar & Wine Bar co-owners Adrian Gadd and Kim Reynolds.
Vinnie Coyne Jr. said the reception to Coyne's Pier 28 has been great in a spot where previous restaurant/night clubs have failed to gain a fiscal foothold.
"We are really happy that we decided to first open our doors in the off season," Coyne said. "It really gave us a chance to personally get to know all our new neighbors. We've made so many great new friends already."
What: Coyne's Pier 28
When: Opens at 11 a.m. daily with flexible closing hours.
Employees: 40 to 50
Menu: Upscale seafood menu in a casual dining environment. Always fresh. Never frozen.
Where: 8261 S. Tamiami Trail
Contact: (941) 921-2280
The Coyne's first restaurant was located on the Eastern Shore of Maryland at the 28th Street Plaza in Ocean City. They sold it when they relocated to Florida.
"We are family owned and operated, and this is our one and only location," he said.
Opening a restaurant in a spot where others have failed didn't deter the Coynes.
"Sarasota is an amazing town, and one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States," he said. "South Sarasota is even more remarkable, and the locals down here command a unique reverence for their side of town. We, too, have a lot of pride in our family, and our neighborhood, and it just felt like a good fit since day one. This area is on the rise."
Coyne's Pier 28 specializes in traditional Maryland dishes and drinks and Chesapeake Bay cuisine. Maryland crab cakes and blue crabs are two don't-miss bites.
The menu includes 15 appetizers; six soup and salad combos; full raw bar with oysters, clams and blue crab claws; eight sandwiches; four tacos; five desserts; and 16 entrees.
It opens at 11 a.m. daily and closes when customers dictate.
"We have the ability to stay open late and we are still feeling that out," Coyne said. "We'd love to be a late-night dining destination in the near future."
The amazing selection of drinks includes the Maryland Bloody Mary, which is enhanced with sriracha, steamed shrimp, celery and two fat green olives, and specialty martinis from bar manager, Brian Usalis.
The atmosphere at Coyne's Pier 28 is lively with seven flat screens sprinkled about the 80-seat bar with the curvy granite countertop and a more subdued ambiance in the 110-seat dining room.