By Brian Bokor
Less than one year ago, I had the privilege of meeting Mike Disser, owner of Finn’s Dockside Bar & Grill, at the vacant waterfront parcel of land at 1112 Apollo Beach Blvd. between Circles Waterfront Restaurant and the Bella Sol condominium complex.
Pulling into the parking lot, I was amazed by how far along the project is for its size. Covering almost 2 acres and enjoying nearly 250 feet of bayfront views, the structure is far more than your typical sit-down restaurant. Not only will diners be able to enjoy air-conditioned service in the 6,000 sq. ft. main area, but thanks to the expansive 4,000 sq. ft. covered tiki bar and deck, visitors will also be able to hang out in the open air to enjoy the fresh breezes and daily live music on the patio.
Adjacent to the deck, they’ll find a large event lawn where social gatherings and activities such as yoga will be part of the daily routine, or they could head down the waterfront and relax at tables overlooking the bay while enjoying their food and drink on sand and crushed shells. Boaters and jet skiers will also be welcome to dock at one of the 15 slips available to take in all that Finn’s has to offer.
Knowing supply chain issues have slowed many projects, I asked Disser how he and his team have been coping with unexpected delays.
“With the exception of a few holdups, the project has been a great success. Three sets of 18-foot-wide custom Euro windows that will be facing the bay ran into shipping delays, which caused us not to be able to install any of the electronics (TVs will be placed high above the main seating area along with a massive wall projection unit) since we could not secure the restaurant,” said Disser. “We’ve had everything necessary to replace the docks for months, then [dock] contractors ran into issues while trying to remove an old sunken sailboat, which again cost us some time.”
When asked about staffing, another potential issue, Disser had no concerns.
“I’ve already hired my chef and front of house restaurant management to take on the hiring duties,” he said. “The menu will focus on coastal-casual favorites featuring fresh seafood along with sandwiches and burgers.”
Disser is taking a wait-and-see approach with both final staff size—to begin around 80—and regular operating hours at this time. With parking allotted for 90, he’s also leased additional spaces from local vendors in order to provide adequate capacity for both his patrons as well as others visiting the area.
Plans call for a Friday, April 1 opening, with hiring to begin shortly. Interested parties can visit finnsappollobeach.com to submit their application to work at the Tampa Bay area’s newest waterfront destination. Follow the restaurant on Instagram at www.instagram.com/finnsapollobeach/ for updates.