We attract a lot of families who dance on the Broadwalk with their children, said Woodbury. We are a local band and we get a lot of locals who patronize the beach year-round.
Gastorf, a native of St. Louis who studied finance at the University of Missouri, managed several restaurants in California along with his wife, whom he met in college. He says he doesnt want to change Hollywood Beach. He just wants to tap into a younger niche that hasnt always been served on the beach: people who are college-aged, in their 20s, early 30s, single or with families, who want to hear contemporary music, not the show tunes and oldies that the senior crowd listens to at the beachs bandshell.
Hollywood Beach has the reputation of being lost in time, he said. Theres a part of that thats great, but in the same breath, the beach should be fun.
Business remains steady, which is a feat for a beach town that struggles during its post-Labor Day slow season. Many restaurant owners are hurting, and two stalwarts, OMalleys and Oceans Eleven, shut down last month after years in business.
Owners of other open-air restaurants, like Jakes, say change is coming whether the beach is ready or not: a Jimmy Buffett-themed 17-story, $350 million Margaritaville resort is planned for central beach.
But change doesnt come easily or quickly in Hollywood Beach, which says it wants to attract younger visitors, but fights to keep its small-town feel. While its newly refurbished Broadwalk has been voted among the best in the country, its crowd, for the most part, consists of regular Joes, retirees, middle-aged vacationers and local, middle-class families who want food, drink and entertainment at bargain prices.
Jamie Hawkes, co-owner of Toucans, a bar/restaurant in the same block as Jakes, understands Gastorfs pain. When he opened his bar eight years ago, he encountered similar resistance to live music and other forms of promotional entertainment. At one time, the citys CRA sponsored regular beach festivals, including a clam chowder competition, craft fairs and other activities that helped bring in new business. The money for those kinds of events has long since dried up as the city began investing in downtown Hollywood, where restaurants and businesses often come and go before they are even discovered.
Hawkes said the owners on the beachs south side stick together and iron out their own problems. They sometimes even borrow tomatoes and other ingredients they run out of.
Its hard to come here if theres no entertainment, no music, no festivals. Somebody in the city ought to pay attention, he said. You cant have one or two businesses controlling a two-mile stretch of prime real estate.
Maria Narbaez, owner of Mamacitas, said she is trying to work out a compromise with Jakes, but they remain at an impasse.
Its often so loud that it rattles the shelves on our restaurant, she said. They dont listen; theres nothing we can do.
Hollywood Commissioner Patty Asseff, who represents the beach district, said the live music brings a good vibe to the beach. People like to eat and hear good music, but there has to be a balance.
A recent meeting was held with the owners of the restaurants, as well as representatives from the Chamber of Commerce and the CRA.
CRA Executive Director Jorge Camejo said all the parties agreed on a number of possible solutions.
It may not be ideal yet, but at least there is a dialog going on to resolve it, he said.