DAYTONA BEACH – Flip-flops had competition from biker boots and leather jackets this week at the LandShark Bar & Grill, as Bike Week visitors discovered one of the success stories among recent development projects aimed at revitalizing business on the beachside.
“I think it’s great,” said Toby Price, 43, who had traveled to the area from Chicago for his third Bike Week with longtime friend Steve Barrett, 45. “They needed this. They needed some upgrades in restaurants, especially on the beachside.”
In addition to the Jimmy Buffett-branded LandShark eatery, the Bike Week crowd also is experiencing its first taste of other sparkling new beachside dining, drinking, lodging and entertainment options that offer diversions away from the familiar haunts on Main Street and Beach Street.
New offerings include the adjoining, separately owned Cocina 214 Tex-Mex eatery that opened simultaneously with the LandShark in January as part of a $6 million dual restaurant development on a 6-acre beachfront lot at 451 S. Atlantic Ave., just north of SunSplash Park.
It is the independently owned Cocina 214′s second location, building on the success of the original Winter Park restaurant that opened in 2011.
North of International Speedway Boulevard on State Road A1A, a highly anticipated Hard Rock Hotel started welcoming guests with a soft opening on March 1. That marked the culmination of a $40 million renovation that transformed the site of the infamous Desert Inn, once proclaimed as one of the three dirtiest hotels in the nation by online travel site TripAdvisor, into a new beachside gem associated with an international brand.
Such changes haven’t gone unnoticed by bikers sipping beers at lunchtime at the LandShark, where the parking lot was noticeably jammed with motorcycles on Bike Week’s opening weekend.
“I noticed a few years ago that the area had been getting kind of run-down and I wondered when they were going to update it,” said Price, the Chicago visitor. “When we rode up to this place, it was like, ‘Wow, this is really cool!’”