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Dania Beach hoping to hook more than fish with pier revamp

Anglers line the rail of the Dania Beach Pier, casting their lines into the water far below, sitting and waiting for the pompano, snook and snapper to bite. In their buckets and coolers are ice, water and sandwiches — and plenty of room for fish to take home.

But that scene will likely change in August, when a new casual restaurant will open on the pier. City leaders are hoping the restaurant, which will likely feature an underwater camera that offers guests glimpses of fish and other sea creatures, will bring a flock of tourists and locals to the pier.

“Once you get to this location, it is beyond spectacular,” said Paul Flanigan, the founder of the Quarterdeck Restaurant, which is expected to open by late August.

Flanigan said that once the restaurant opens, there will be more to do at the pier than just fish or walk to the end.

The restaurant is working with Nova Southeastern University to install an underwater camera below the pier, which will then broadcast the view across more than 50 flat screen televisions inside the restaurant, Flanigan said.

Last month, Dania Beach approved spending close to $500,000 to renovate the pier restaurant’s structure. It’s also seeking to improve restrooms and customer service at the pier, Assistant City Manager Colin Donnelly said.

The pier, first constructed in 1962, was closed from 1990 to 1995 after it was deemed unsafe. The city rebuilt the pier and negotiated with several restaurants to open there. Then, after the pier was closed again briefly from August 2005 to December 2006, the restaurant Beach Watch opened in 2007. But after a dispute with the city, Beach Watch left.

The city says that the Quarterdeck, with its more casual ambience and prices, will be a better fit.

For the city, the pier is just one piece of the puzzle to make Dania Beach a destination spot. The city is also spending $5 million to spruce up the marina, including adding public docking spaces and security kiosks as well as improving the seawall. It’s also torn out sea grape trees to improve the sand dunes.

“The beach in particular is something we have been devoting a lot of time to, and we’re making a lot of progress,” City Manager Bob Baldwin said.

But will the revamp work? Ron Ries, who splits his time between Connecticut and South Florida, said he’s always preferred to visit the pier in Deerfield Beach because it has a restaurant. But once renovations at the Dania Beach pier are done, Ries said he expects to go there more often.

“I’m sure I will.”