GULF DRIVE CAFE BEGINNINGS & HISTORY
The Gulf Drive Café opened in 1981 and has been a local and tourist favorite on Anna Maria Island ever since. George and Wendy Kokolis, the current owners, bought the historic property in 1987. Over the course of 45 years, Kokolis’ significant experience in the restaurant sector has grown. After celebrating almost 20 years as proprietors, they chose to rebuild and extend the Café into The Kokonut Hut, a bar, and The Sunset by Gulf Drive Café, an event venue.
George Kokolis, who had spent his whole life in the restaurant sector and had trained as a chef, had always wanted to have his own restaurant.
“I’ve been in the business for 47 years and I worked many years to make this dream come true. I’ve owned four restaurants, each one bigger than the one before, but I never dreamed I would own a place as big as Gulf Drive Café,” he says. “The place I owned prior to this I did the volume all year that I put out in one month here.”
That volume is attributable in part to distinctive breakfast, lunch, and dinner products such as Belgian waffles and Gulf grouper dinners fished locally.
“Guests come in and reminisce about coming here to have the waffles when we were considered the breakfast place on the island,” George Kokolis says. “Time has brought about many changes to the café but we still serve the same favorites the guests love.”
The property is on 2 acres of the Gulf of Mexico coastline and includes a variety of amenities for guests to enjoy. Delicious meals, superb service, chilled beverages, and live entertainment are all part of the package.
A notable diving area and underwater archaeological preservation are directly in front of the company. Local and visiting divers dive to see The Regina, a sugar barge that drowned in 1940 while transporting more than 300,000 liters of molasses from Havana, Cuba.
AT THE GULF DRIVE CAFE, YOU MAY HAVE A FUN FRUITY COCKTAIL!
At this time the Gulf Drive Cafe serves coffee and breakfast with a breathtaking view of the Gulf. It’s easy to understand why Southern Living Magazine named this restaurant one of the “greatest breakfasts in Florida” after a visit!
Breakfast is available until 1 p.m., so you may have Beignets, street tacos, and Banana Foster French toast. There’s something for everyone’s taste, so the whole family will be happy. The Gulf Drive Cafe is also a terrific place to spend lunch or supper!
Below are a few sample reviews from Google.
A Google reviewer wrote:
As you are traversing Anna Maria island, there are multiple dining options. Gulf Drive Cafe provides a beautiful beachfront location with ample covered outdoor seating overlooking the gulf. Service was excellent, and attentive. Food was excellent and fairly priced. If you are looking for the beach dining experience, this is it.