News & Events


Eateries Then & Now Exhibit Shows a Flavorful Side to Bradenton History

There's plenty of food for thought at the Eateries exhibit going on now at the Central Library in downtown Bradenton.

The Central Library Bradenton Eateries Then & Now opening reception on Thursday, April 20 brought a large crowd of about 50 hungry people in search of food and information. The event included menu samples from many local restaurants such as Fav's Italian Cucina, PIER 22, Sugar Cubed Pastry Lab and several others. Also on display, memorabilia such as old menus, dated advertisements, newspaper clippings and an informational slide show depict Bradenton as a foodie capital.

The exhibit also reveals extraordinary changes within the restaurant industry and throughout the city of Bradenton including its landscape and culture. Librarian David Breakfield tossed around several ideas for the exhibit before landing on a show that would focus mainly on eateries in the downtown Bradenton area.


Ernest Kretschmar Residence- Courtesy Central Library Digital Collection

During the opening reception, both Breakfield and the library supervisor of information services, Ericka Dow, shared stories and answered questions from the crowd. A PowerPoint slide showing the Mediterranean fusion restaurant Ortygia sparked conversation about noticeable change in the area. "That area has turn of the century houses," Breakfield commented. He said that the part of Bradenton known now as the Village of the Arts was once hard hit by drugs but has since been "greatly improved" and revamped as an artist's colony.


Erika Dow, left, the supervisor of information services at the Manatee County

Downtown Central Library, talks about the exhibit with John Hedinger, right, a
current Bradenton resident.

The riverfront restaurant PIER 22, a well known Bradenton landmark, also appears in the show. Photos dating back to the 1920s when the pier's building was first erected are on display and juxtaposed with images from the modern day. You can also find print pieces, presumably from the seventies, that advertise the restaurant when it was just starting out.


"Many of the restaurants mentioned in the exhibit have deep roots within the community and have been serving guests for decades; it's a beautiful thing."
Tabatha Davis, director of marketing PIER 22, on enjoying the Bradenton Eateries: Then and Now exhibit


Learning about the many changes to the area was "eye-opening," Tabatha Davis, PIER 22 director of marketing, said. "But what's more amazing is that much of the history has been preserved," Davis mentioned that building renovations like those to the pier and many others in the arts district along with the Central Library's robust digital collection of historic images help keep the past alive. "Many of the restaurants mentioned in the exhibit have deep roots within the community and have been serving guests for decades; it's a beautiful thing," Davis said.

The exhibit runs through July at the Central Library, 1301 Barcarrota Blvd. W.

About PIER 22
PIER 22 Restaurant, Patio & Catering is genuine Bradenton and sits directly on the beautiful Manatee River surrounded by the Twin Dolphin Marina. PIER 22 provides guests with scratch-cooked meals and authentic waterfront dining 365 days per year. From casual meals on the patio to upscale dining, PIER 22 offers a welcoming ambiance for all guests to enjoy. With rooms for every occasion, PIER 22 can accommodate your party or event with up to 300 guests.

*Read more about the history of PIER 22 on our History Page