Make us your home page

Clearwater Beach surf shop will make way for craft brewery

CLEARWATER — Bill McKenna's surf shop has been a Clearwater Beach fixture for 35 years.

Mandalay Surf Co., one of Clearwater's first surf shops, opened in a 700-square-foot space near the then-Clearwater Beach Hotel. McKenna sold surfboards, skimboards, skateboards and beachwear there for 12 years before moving to Mandalay Avenue and Baymont Street, where he continued to build a following.

But the Mandalay Surf Co.'s era will end in June, when Mc­Kenna and wife Linda will close their shop. And a new era will begin, with the space scheduled to be sold to the island's first craft brewery, the Clearwater Beach Brewing Company.

"Trees don't grow to heaven," McKenna, 72, said. "So sooner or later all things come to an end."

Dennis Prescott, listed on state records as a manager of the brewery, said he could not comment on the plans until the contract on the property closes. He would not speculate on when that would be.

But plans already on file and approved by city officials hint of what's in store.

The 3,900-square-foot building will get a new facade and some extra height to provide enough vertical space for the brewing vats. The three-level brewery and restaurant will feature a second-floor wraparound balcony with outdoor dining, and a rooftop bar. The second floor also will offer views into the first-floor brewing room.

McKenna, who grew up in Clearwater, started the surf shop in the late 1970s when he was working in sales for Ocean Pacific clothing.

He had no clients on Clearwater Beach, so he decided to open a surf shop, modeled after the successful ones he visited elsewhere. It would have only the best "California cool" merchandise, he decided — no "three for $10 T-shirt" stuff, McKenna said.

"I always thought I could move this store to Southern California and never miss a beat," he said.

Because McKenna already had a job, he did not take a salary at the new shop. That money went toward buying inventory for the fledgling business. It was one of the first places in the area to offer complete skateboards and a line of surfboards.

McKenna was there long enough to witness the explosion of counterculture sports.

"The names change, but the game's the same — people having fun," he said.

McKenna did what he could to support local athletes, sponsoring tournaments and letting many regulars hang out at the shop watching videos of professional surfers and skateboarders.

McKenna is not ruling out the idea that someone else could choose to open another surf shop under the Mandalay Surf name, which he will still own.

As for him, he'll be hanging out on Clearwater Beach.

"I live here," McKenna said. "I'm not going anywhere."

Clearwater Beach surf shop will make way for craft brewery 02/25/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, February 25, 2014 6:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. With successful jewelry line, Durant High alum Carley Ochs enjoys 'incredible ride'



    As a child Carley Ochs played dress up, draped in her grandmother's furs.

    Founder Carley Ochs poses for a portrait in her Ford Bronco at the Bourbon & Boweties warehouse in Brandon, Fla. on September 19, 2017. Ochs is a Durant High and Florida State University graduate.
  2. At Menorah Manor, planning paid off during Irma

    Nursing Homes

    ST. PETERSBURG — Doris Rosenblatt and her husband, Frank, have lived in Florida all of their lives, so they know about hurricanes.

    Raisa Collins, 9, far left, works on a craft project as Certified Nursing Assistant Shuntal Anthony holds Cassidy Merrill, 1, while pouring glue for Quanniyah Brownlee, 9, right, at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg on Sept. 15. To help keep its patients safe during Hurricane Irma, Menorah Manor allowed employees to shelter their families and pets at the nursing home and also offered daycare through the week. The facility was able to accommodate and feed everyone who weathered the storm there. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  3. After Irma, nursing homes scramble to meet a hard deadline

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida's nursing homes and assisted-living facilities find themselves in an unfamiliar place this week — pushing back against Gov. Rick Scott's administration over new rules that require them to purchase generator capacity by Nov. 15 to keep their residents safe and comfortable in a power …

    In this Sept. 13 photo, a woman is transported from The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills as patients are evacuated after a loss of air conditioning due to Hurricane Irma in Hollywood. Nine have died and patients had to be moved out of the facility, many of them on stretchers or in wheelchairs. Authorities have launched a criminal investigation to figure out what went wrong and who, if anyone, was to blame. [Amy Beth Bennett | South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP]
  4. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  5. Three-hour police standoff ends, thanks to a cigarette


    TAMPA — A man threatening to harm himself was arrested by Tampa police on Tuesday after a three-hour standoff.