By Brian Bokor
As vice president of brand development for 23 Restaurant Services, Tara Matheny was up for the challenge of creating a landmark riverfront experience in Riverview at its new Tiki Docks River Bar & Grill, located at 10708 Palmetto St. on the south bank of the Alafia River just east of US 301.
As Matheny told me, “Our entire team is excited to develop a landmark in the Riverview community that will result in making many friends and driving tourists into the area as well.”
This project, however, would be unlike any other that 23 Restaurant Services has attempted. Typically, the team utilized standing buildings and renovated, as evidenced by the Ford’s Garage in Brandon, but this time the development was from scratch on raw riverfront land.
Over 200 pilings would be driven into bedrock, flood mitigation performed to the land as well as road improvements needed for the entrance and parking lot. With all structural details successfully completed, plans call for the Tiki Docks to open its doors to the public sometime near the end of July 2020.
Customers will be greeted at the front entrance by a two-sided, 19-foot water wall and a large mural featuring seven distinctly different Tiki icons with each idol pictured on the outside recreated as a 6 1/2-foot statue inside the sprawling 3-story, 15,000 sq. ft. complex. One of the initial events to be held will be a ‘Name the Seven Tikis Contest’ where customers will get a chance to do just that.
The menu will have hints of Polynesian flair blended with casual riverfront dining cuisine such as seafood, ribs, chicken, burgers and sandwiches along with a traditional raw bar featuring two types of oysters as well as daily offerings of fresh, local peel-and-eat shrimp.
With capacity over 300, two-thirds of the seating will be outside on a large deck overlooking the Alafia River with the remaining tables under air surrounding a large central bar. The deck will have three areas: the Bamboo Room, the Main Deck and the Lava Deck, and it will be home to two bar areas.
Large parties and special gatherings will be welcome to reserve sections of the restaurant for private events with valet parking available. Phase two additions include boat-up docks, jet ski rentals and a small bait shop.