Things are looking up again for the once booming Old Bradenton Beach Historic Bridge Street Pier on Anna Maria Island.
About 18 months ago, Tropical Storm Debby damaged the old pier, which sits on the Sarasota Bay. As a result, the fishing pier and docks were closed off so they could be repaired.
The closure led to a major decline in visits from tourists, which eventually caused the restaurant on site to close.
Now the fishing pier and docks are open again and visitors are coming back.
“Business has been booming,” said Rusty Roberts, who owns the new Rusty Anchor Bait and Tackle Bait Shop on the pier. “I’m very happy to say there have been (a lot of) people out here. Almost every day I’m selling out of bait.”
Roberts just opened the bait shop last month. To his delight, he’s been very busy.
Early next month, another business will be joining him on the pier. Roland Pena is working around the clock to get everything ready for the opening of the new Cast and Cage Restaurant.
He hopes it will be a nice addition to the many improvements already made on the pier.
“I believe it will bring a lot of life back,” he said.
While most of the pier is open to the public, there is a small section at the end of the pier that remains closed.
Repair work there is supposed to be finished by the spring.
The Bridge Street Pier is located at 200 Bridge Street and is open 24 hours a day.
The old Pier ranks high among Manatee County’s attractions in surveys by visitors.