Downtown Bradenton Café Hits ‘Pause’ But The Restaurant Has Big Plans For A Comeback

Kefi Streetside Cafe, which has built a loyal following since opening in November 2021, closed on Saturday. But the walk-up cafe, launched by Jason Simpson and Eleni Sokos at 1201 Sixth Ave. W., from a former bank teller window in the Connect Central building, will be back.

“Kefi 1.0 has been a dream. We are officially paused for the summer, and are working to develop our next location into your next favorite place,” Kefi posted on social media Saturday. Unlike the current café, which faces south onto a parking lot and has outdoor seating, the new Kefi will open inside the Connect Central building facing north. There are three retail spaces planned along Sixth Avenue West, Simpson said.

Connect Central has been undergoing a top-down renovation and now it is time for a makeover of the Kefi space. The owner of the property is Steve Herrig of SUNZ Insurance. “SUNZ has been working very hard around us with other construction,” Simpson said.


Kefi, whose coffee and seasonal Mediterranean-inspired menu and relaxed vibe built a distinctive brand, is now under the umbrella of Oysters Rock Hospitality. The John and Amanda Horne-owned company includes six Anna Maria Oyster Bar restaurants and Café L’Europe.

Jason Simpson, shown 5/22/2024, opened Kefi Streetside Cafe in 2021 with Eleni Sokos in a former drive-up bank teller space. The cafe is closing May 25 but will reopen inside the Central Connect building in downtown Bradenton in October.

Sokos already works for Oysters Rock, and Simpson said he looks forward to learning from the brand as well.

Simpson said he appreciates the support from downtown Bradenton and neighbors like Village of the Arts. “With their support, we have grown this into something we never saw that it would be: a little oasis that people love to come to,” he said. “It’s a quiet and comforting space,” he said. “It’s bittersweet for sure.”

Simpson plans to take a few weeks off, adding that there have been discussions about doing popups and operating a food truck. “Keep an eye on Kefi in our social media,” he said. Kefi hopes to reopen in the new space by October.

Kefi Streetside Cafe, which has built a loyal following since opening in 2021, will be closing Saturday, May 25, with plans to reopen in October in a nearby location.

A Village of the Arts resident was having a beverage at Kefi Wednesday afternoon. “I’ve been coming here for a year,” she said. “I love the creativity of their menu. I think it’s important to support local businesses.”

Kefi uniquely made their converted bank teller space their own with distinctive exterior art and seven words, plus Kefi, imprinted in a pattern surrounding the window. Those words, or wishes, are hope, health, luck, love, happiness, joy and peace. In Greek, Kefi means the joyful beauty of feeling alive, Sokos previously said.

Eleni Sokos and Jason Simpson opened Kefi Streetside Cafe, 1201 6th Ave. W., Bradenton, in November. They are shown above 2/8/2021.

James A. Jones Jr.

Bradenton Herald