Cassandra Kelley opened Mila’s on the Manatee last November, bringing new life to the long-time riverfront restaurant location.
Riverside Cafe, the previous occupant at 965 Riverside Drive, closed last March during the COVID-19 pandemic and never reopened.
Kelley put in new carpeting and wall coverings and initially served only breakfast and lunch. She has since added dinner as well, and the restaurant is open seven days a week.
Still, she has bigger plans. By summer, renovations to the outdoor deck will be completed. They will include a higher ceiling to allow a much improved view of the Manatee River and Regatta Pointe Marina, and a larger seating capacity that Kelley says should allow the restaurant to achieve its potential as a dining and entertainment destination.
Planned for the outdoor deck are a wall-to-wall bar and seven nights of weekly fun, including four nights of live music, bingo night, trivia night and karaoke night.
“When the deck is completed we will be able to expand the menu, too,” she said. Kelley entered the restaurant business with her father, a retired Air Force major in Punta Gorda, where they own and operate the Cass Cay Restaurant and Bar at the Burnt Store Marina. “My dad’s retirement gig was starting a restaurant in Florida. I jumped aboard to help him out,” Kelley said.
Mila’s is open 7:30 a.m. - 8 p.m. The lunch and dinner menu is available after 11:30 a.m.
Mila’s breakfast menu includes platters, hot-from-the-griddle selections, omelettes, a la carte items, and specialties, such as brisket on a biscuit for $11.95, biscuit and gravy for $6.95, and chicken and waffle for $9.95.
For lunch, Mila’s offers a variety of appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, starting at $10.95, salads starting at $9.95 and entrees, such as Gulf shrimp and grits, fish and chips, and grilled lump crab cakes, starting at $12.95.
A variety of dinner specials are offered, including chicken Parmesan, chicken cordon bleu, barbecue ribs, stuffed flounder and more. Dinner specials start at $15.95.
Palmetto Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant was one of Mila’s first customers.
“I grabbed an excellent lunch while at Mila’s on the River on my visit! I so enjoy meeting such nice people in our community,” Bryant said in a social media post.
Mila’s is named after Kelley’s young niece.
For more information about Mila’s, visit https://milasonthemanatee.com/ or call 941-212-6006.