The Sea Dog Brew Pub opened in Treasure Island in October. It followed others opening along the beaches: Mastry’s in St. Pete Beach and Mad Beach Brewery in Madeira Beach. There could be another to follow in Indian Rocks Beach if the hopes of city officials are realized.
Robin Sollie of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce sees a trend, and she says it is a positive for the economy of the beach communities.
"We think it is great to see some of the new brewers coming to the beach," she said. "For a long time it was Clearwater and St. Petersburg; now they are coming here."
Charlie Breakiron, general manager of the Sea Dog at 9610 Gulf Blvd., says the owners of the company see the beach as a unique place to do business.
"One of our owners, Fred Forsley, saw the property here in Treasure Island and he fell in love with the location; it has lots of water views," he said. "He also envisioned having boat docks and having people pull up by boat. There are few restaurants that do that and ours should be ready by the spring."
Breakiron said his company caters to the beach-going customer — another reason why opening the business in a beach community is a plus.
"The vacationers are what drive the business," he said. "Those water views are definitely a plus for the vacationers. They don’t get to see it every day like we do."
The Sea Dog Brew Pub has its roots in Maine. Its parent, the Shipyard Brewing Company, has been in business for 25 years and operates in Maine and New Hampshire. Breakiron said much of the food served in the restaurant comes from Maine-inspired recipes.
"We have lots of lobster dishes and we use as much local food as possible, Gulf oysters, cod and grouper and the sauces of course."
Farther north on Gulf Boulevard in Indian Rocks Beach, the City Commission recently passed an ordinance allowing microbreweries to do business in the city.
City Manager Gregg Mims said microbreweries are a thing of the future.
"We all travel and go places and find microbreweries wherever we go," he said. "It is something that is coming on particularly in Florida the last few years. Our business district would be an ideal location for a microbrewery."
But first Mims realized that some housekeeping had to be taken care of.
"We had contact about a year ago from a gentleman to open a small microbrewery in Indian Rocks Beach," he said. "In reviewing it with him we realized we didn’t have provision to allow that."
With that situation now rectified, Mims said the city will be active in recruiting a brewery.
The Chamber’s Sollie said the industry is going in the right direction.
"From what I know they are successful and they are maturing," she said. "It is nice to see they are all working together; there is a nice dynamic about that industry."
Sollie said there is talk that another microbrewery wants to open on the beaches, another indication of a growing industry.
"Although they are not a brewery, Tapz on Corey Avenue serves local craft beers," she said. "It gives another great aspect of an experience that people can have. People who travel these days are looking for that special local experience."
Sea Dog’s Breakiron said the hopes of his company echoes that of the other players in the industry on the beaches, that of growth and of a future.
"Business has been doing very well," he said. "We’re going to be around for a while."