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Bradenton cafe acquired by Oysters Rock Hospitality closes temporarily


Kefi closed May 25 at the Connect Central building, where the location used to be a drive-thru for a bank.
Kefi closed May 25 at the Connect Central building, where the location used to be a drive-thru for a bank.
Image via Kefi / Facebook
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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A Mediterranean-inspired coffee shop and cafe operating out of a former bank teller’s window in Bradenton is closed temporarily as it undergoes several major changes. Among them are shifts in location and a change in ownership.

First, Kefi Streetside Cafe will be moving from its walk-up window at 1201 Sixth Ave. W. Its last day of operations there was May 25.

“The clock has run out on the impermanence of our sweet little space, and it’s time for us to pause operations for a short while,” Kefi posted on its Facebook page.

Its current location is being demolished, and the first floor is being remodeled as the Connect Central building expands and reconfigures its parking lot, the restaurant shared on Facebook.

"We signed the lease three years ago knowing that there were plans for the building’s redevelopment, the parking lot’s redevelopment, so we knew that it wasn’t permanent," Eleni Sokos, co-founder of Kefi, says in an interview with the Business Observer. Plus, she says, "We've outgrown the space. We've proven the concept, and it's extremely beloved."

Since opening in November 2021, Kefi has gained a loyal following at its walk-up window and fenced-in courtyard. "Kefi" is Greek for the "joyful beauty of feeling alive."

Kefi will be closed for the summer while its staff “are working hard to develop our next location into your next favorite place,” the eatery reports.

The restaurant plans to reopen in the fall, posting on Facebook: “The 2.0 version will be different, but we hope to create another special place that you can fall in love with, all over again.”

Despite sharing what Kefi called “bitterwsweet news” of its temporary closure, the eatery did have a "bright side" to share about its ownership and location.

When it reopens, Kefi will be part of the Oysters Rock Hospitality brand. Sokos was recently named the next CEO of the company, which owns six Anna Maria Oyster Bar restaurants and Cafe L’Europe in Sarasota. The acquisition of Kefi was part of the succession plan, Sokos says.

Under Oysters Rock Hospitality, Kefi will be able to take advantage of supply chain relationships to have more buying power.

"As the supply chain has changed, you're going to see continued consolidation within the restaurant industry," Sokos says. "It's extremely hard for independents to be successful."

Before, Kefi was also limited in what it could offer based on space, she says. Now, Kefi will have access to additional kitchen and storage space, which will help it grow its offerings beyond brunch.

"By bringing the brand under the umbrella of Oysters Rock, we do plan to expand into evening hours," Sokos says of Kefi, which used to close by 3 p.m. at its original location. "I’d love to be a destination for great Mediterranean wines or charcuterie or meze — more afternoon and evening fare — beyond brunch, which is really what we had the capacity for. You’re limited by what you can store and prepare."

Restaurants within Oysters Rock Hospitality will work together on food preparation, according to Sokos.

"We think that can be scalable," Sokos says. For example, tzatziki sauce for Kefi coould be prepared in kitchens at other eateries where there is more room. "As we expand, part of the strategy is to expand kitchen real estate at our existing restaurants."

The restaurants in the portfolio for Oysters Rock have different menus and concepts but they do have one thing in common, according to Sokos.

"We’re looking to create restaurants and places for people to gather that appeal to all generations," Sokos says.

"What I love most about Kefi is that i see 14-year-olds as excited to be there as 40-year-olds and 80-year olds. It appeals to a broad audience," Sokos says. "Kefi has proven that we know how to give people what they want in terms of a more mobile, more flexible, more health conscious operation. We proved the concept worked in a small space and now we can get some backing so we can grow and expand together."

The team at Oysters Rock Hospitality is “already at work designing our next space, which we promise will not be very far from our current address,” Kefi posted on Facebook. 

"My passion in term of hospitality is creating spaces where people can come together," Sokos says. "It’s all about the space becoming a place."

The new location was going to be inside the Connect Central building facing north rather than its old location, which faced south, according to the Bradenton Herald. However, Sokos says the lease has not been signed.

"We had an opportunity to claim a larger space in the same building, which isn’t going to work for our business model," Sokos tells Business Observer in a phone interview on May 29. "For now, what we’re committing to is the food truck while we work on lease negotiations."

She put the call out to anyone selling a food truck that she is looking.

When it opens, the food truck will be able to serve food from various Oysters Rock Hospitality restaurants, not just Kefi.

Sokos already has a vision for the truck, which she says will be navy blue with a little blue and white awning. It could sell fish and chips or lobster rolls from Anna Maria Oyster Bar or Prosecco and croque madames from Cafe L'Europe or a falafel pita and coffee from Kefi, she says.

"We think we can keep it busy almost 24/7 at various venues and community events," Sokos says.

While Kefi and Oysters Rock are in a "state of transition," says Sokos: "We’re really excited about the possibilities even though they're not quite fully formed yet."

This article has been updated.

 

author

Elizabeth King

Elizabeth is a business news reporter with the Business Observer, covering primarily Sarasota-Bradenton, in addition to other parts of the region. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University, she previously covered hyperlocal news in Maryland for Patch for 12 years. Now she lives in Sarasota County.

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