Businesses on A1A say it’s their turn to shine.
Eight restaurants clustered near Andy Romano Park along State Road A1A are banding together to promote themselves and build up their area. Calling themselves Restaurant Row Ormond Beachside, they are working on plans to advertise together and also seek help from the city.
“We’ve had two meetings and we have all kinds of ideas,” said Lena Lux, general manager of Tipsy Taco, 746 S. Atlantic Ave.
The group would like for the city to have events such as kite festivals, concerts, surfing contests, 5K races or First Fridays at Andy Romano Park. Lux also suggests banners on light posts, like they have on Granada Boulevard, that say “Restaurant Row.”
After Lux presented the idea to the City Commission in January, a meeting was set with staff and local leaders for Feb. 6. Steve Spraker, city Planning Director, said the city’s economic director and the executive director of the Ormond Beach Chamber of Commerce will attend the meeting.
“I’m super excited they have responded,” Lux said. “We want to come together with the residents and the city and grow the area together.”
Business is especially needed from locals in the tourist off-season.
Streetscaping and landscaping would also improve the area, but Lux said they realize the area is in the city, but A1A is a state road and the county maintains the beach.
“We’re starting to learn,” she said. “We’re just taking baby steps. We want to start small and get the ball rolling.”
One thing all the restaurants owners agree on is the damage done by the two hurricanes, Matthew and Irma, which is still causing problems, not because of damage to the restaurants, but because some hotels have not reopened.
Also, the frequents rains of 2018 dampened business, especially for the upper deck at Dimitri’s Bar and Grill..
The restaurants include the Tipsy Taco Cantina, Dimitri’s Bar and Grill, Riptides Raw Bar and Grill, Black Sheep Pub and Eating House, Don Peppers Mexican Grill Cantina, The Beach Bucket, Bonefish Grill and Charlie Horse Restaurant.
Some business owners on S.R. A1A look at Ormond MainStreet, with its landscaping, lamp posts, flags and events; and wonder when their turn is coming.
“A lot of us on restaurant row are feeling neglected,” said the owner of Dimitri’s Bar and Grill, 790 S. Atlantic Ave.
Dimitri (who likes to go by his first name) said he believes South Atlantic Avenue has been on the city’s back burner.
“It’s time to do something here,” he said. “Granada Boulevard gets Christmas wreaths. What do we have?”
He pointed out that the county is creating a new parking lot north of the Restaurant Row area, which will provide parking for any planned festivals or events.
“We are on the beach. People should be coming to the beach to hang out,” he said.
He congratulated the city on the creation of Andy Romano Park, calling it “outstanding.” He also thanked the commissioners for allowing him to build the upper deck about six years ago, which has been very popular.
He believes helping the businesses will result in helping the city, by providing more tax revenue.
He points out the area is one the few in Florida that is not overdeveloped and the city should take advantage of it.
Spraker said improvements occur all over the city, including State Road A1A, where more pedestrian crosswalks are planned and several buildings are being redeveloped.
Lori Dupree, co-owner and manager of Charlie Horse Restaurant, 810 S. Atlantic Ave., sees a big potential for the street, pointing out the beachside neighborhoods to the west of the restaurants. She envisions a street like Flagler Avenue in New Smyrna Beach, with residents and visitors walking and biking along the street, if more businesses could develop.
Dupree promotes her restaurant to the hotels and makes sure to deliver advertising material to the Chamber of Commerce for distribution. She sees Restaurant Row working with the chamber to have the most potential.
She does not agree with some who say South S.R. A1A is an eyesore, saying the worst lot is where the County is slowly tearing down buildings to build a parking lot.
Otherwise, there are only a few closed businesses.
“It’s not like we have bombed out buildings,” she said.
There’s a lot of discussion in Daytona Beach about International Speedway Boulevard, considered to be the entrance to the tourist area. Dupree would like to see tourists to enter Daytona Beach from Ormond Beach, down S.R. A1A.
“It’s all one big tourist area,” she said.
The Restaurant Row initiative will help spread the word about the wide selection of family-friendly restaurants on South S.R. A1A, she said.
“We want to come together with the residents and the city and grow the area together.”
LENA LUX, of Tipsy Taco