CLEARWATER BEACH — Mike "Frenchy" Preston, whose restaurant chain is an area institution, plans to enter the hotel business.
Preston has paid $1.6 million for two properties on East Shore Drive next to Frenchy's Seafood Co., which provides his restaurants with fresh fish and other marine delicacies.
One property, Ann's Edgewater, includes apartments and short-term accommodations. The other, the Olympia Motel, offers 15 efficiency units.
The plan is to renovate the Olympia, a two-story concrete block and stucco building built in 1961. Preston said he sees a Mad Men theme, referring to a television show known for its replication of early 1960s chic.
"It's going to be neat, man," Preston said. "We are pretty excited about that property."
Preston has yet to submit any plans to the city but said he expects renovations to be done in a couple of months.
As for Ann's Edgewater, Preston said the property would be left as is, for now.
When the adjacent properties became available it just made sense to buy, said Preston, who likes the development potential of the site but was clear the only solid plans at the moment are for the Olympia renovation.
Preston, a native of Quebec, a French speaking Canadian province, opened his first restaurant on Baymont Street in 1981. The establishment would become Frenchy's Original Cafe.
His other restaurants now include Frenchy's Rockaway Grill, Saltwater Cafe and South Beach Cafe.
Janet Baustert, vice president of Preston's company, said to expect a classy renovation of the Olympia.
"Everything he touches, we make nice," Baustert said. "We take rundown places and clean them up."
Will Van Sant can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4166.