ENGLEWOOD — If any Englewood business owner has a complaint about the fourth annual Englewood Beach Waterfest, Mike Stipp might top that list.
But he doesn’t. Stipp sees the economic benefit of Waterfest to Englewood.
Stipp, the owner of Allure Rentals on Beach Road, had to close his office during the two days of Offshore Powerboat Association powerboat racing off Manasota Key. He rents kayaks, canoes, personal watercraft, skiffs and other boats. His clients launch in the finger canal opposite Chadwick Park.
The racing boats were lowered and lifted into Lemon Bay at Chadwick Park, across street from Englewood Beach. The only money Stipp could make was to charge spectators for parking on his property.
“I don’t mind closing for two days,” Stipp said. He like other Englewood business owners suffered significant losses all summer from the persistent red tide blooms that chased tourists and other visitors away.
“As long as the Englewood community is happy, I’m happy,” he said of Waterfest, citing how the races attracted thousands of people who discover Englewood.
Other Manasota Key businesses appreciated the economic boost Waterfest provided.
“Since June, we haven’t done so well — it was bad,” said Jose Valderrama, owner of Geraldi’s pizza, subs and Italian restaurant on Beach Road. Valderrama needed the boost Waterfest provided and he’s hoping the cooler weather might be a sign that the red tide will be receding.
Island Court Seafood owner Monica Sheckler also saw a big boost from racing teams and spectators who stopped and bought stone crabs claws, which she’s selling for $24 to $39 a pound, depending upon the size of the claws.
Manasota Key restaurants count Waterfest as a success — and a success for their businesses.
“It was awesome,” said Rocket Atamanchuk, owner of the Lock ‘N Key and SandBar Tiki & Grille. He just finished remodeling and reopened Lock ‘N Key on the eve of Waterfest. “The feedback I heard from everyone was what a great, great time they had.
“And (Waterfest) is definitely an economic shot in the arm,” he said.
Atamanchuk’s two restaurants met their expectations. From what he’s heard from the race teams, they “love coming to Englewood.”
Jill Hemmes is the owner of the Waverly restaurant and bar on Manasota Key and the Beach Road Bistro. Both restaurants did well during the Waterfest races.
“It was good, not ‘crazy’ busy; I want crazy busy,” Hemmes quipped. Her Bistro saw most of its business at night, after the races, and many of her customers were members of the racing teams.
The red tide, she suspects, is keeping some people, those who traditionally come to this area in the fall, from visiting Englewood.
“With the cold winter and the red tide not here, I expect people will be here in January,” Hemmes said. “People need to come out and support their local businesses.