The history of the Sandbar
The tradition of entertainment and relaxation at the site that is now the Sandbar dates back as far as 1911. In those days Anna Maria was only accessible by boat but still many people came from Tampa, landing on the bay side and making the short hike to "The Pavilion," a favored meeting place for locals and tourists alike, and the site on which the Sandbar Restaurant now sits.
In the early days, a diving platform was erected on pilings, approximately 100 feet offshore and connected to the beach by a cable. The 'more adventuresome' could make use of it, minimizing the chance of falling prey to sharks that inhabited the area waters. Local fishermen still refer to the platform, no longer visible, as the "wire."
A mysterious fire engulfed "The Pavilion" in 1946. A 'bucket brigade' was formed to protect the surrounding buildings, but legend has it that the owners didn't waste much water on the blaze. They subsequently placed two old army barracks on the spot and the Sandbar was born.
The Sandbar was traded around a bit in the following years. One owner, Mrs. Bernice Enaux, added a dance floor in the late 40's which did more to enhance the Sandbar's reputation.
The hurricane of 1950 did extensive damage to the building and wiped out what was left of the platform. Mrs. Enaux, not to be deterred, rebuilt and strengthened the building. After being sold by Mrs. Enaux in the early 60's, it once again saw a period of ownership by many. Extensive remodeling, done in the early 70's removed the bar from the south side and added a new bar and lounge on the north side.
In July of 1979, the Sandbar was purchased by Ed Chiles with a commitment to embrace the future while honoring the history of this historic site and all that the Sandbar has meant to the history of Anna Maria Island.