The first time I enjoyed lunch at Jennings Provisions on Old Main Street, I had a distinctly pleasurable feeling of Deja Vue. The welcoming greeting from staff, the fresh quality of the food, the interesting and diverse menu, and the eclectic décor that was a mix of modern and vintage, reminded me of pleasurable dining experiences in the past. It was when I met the owner and his sister that everything fell into place. The proprietor, Marc Cripe, and his sister Meagen Jones, come from a long line of successful restaurateurs. Thirty years ago, the Café de France was a favorite spot. Then we found Central Café in East Manatee which became our new go to. Both of these restaurants were the inspiration of the Cripe family. No wonder everything felt so right at Jennings.
Still a family operation, the qualities that made their other restaurants so successful are very much in evidence. According to Marc and Meagen, their “family values” include sourcing local growers and brewers, creating as much of their menu “in house” as possible (they make their bread), and offering a relaxing and sociable atmosphere. As Marc pointed out, “Our menu is designed around shareable plates meant to be enjoyed with friends. Our selection of local beers, ciders, and wine are chosen to complement our menu and to support our local food industry. We’re all in this together.” They carry a locally brewed kombucha for those who prefer something non-alcoholic. And keeping things “in the family”, the wine selection is from Lola Winery in Calistoga Ca, developed by their brother Seth Cripe.
Marc and Megean are part of a group of young entrepreneurs who are bringing a new vibe to downtown Bradenton. As Meagen says, “Those of us who grew up here want to see a thriving and diverse downtown. We want a “place” to go. That’s what will keep us here and attract new, younger residents to this community.” Recently, they added a select group of merchandise- t-shirts, jewelry, greeting cards-as they recognized a need for more retail on Old Main. Almost all of the items are created by local artists, like Clare, the incredibly engaging young woman who runs the front of the house. Patrons of Central Café will remember the same eclectic mix where you could have a great meal and find a great gift.
Longtime Bradenton residents have watched Downtown’s ups and downs, but this commitment of talented young entrepreneurs signals a new era. Thanks to this new generation of a talented family, we continue to have a place that gives us an authentic experience of the best of this community. Jennings Provisions can be found on Facebook, Instagram, and Jennings.firstname.lastname@example.org. Know before you go as the menu changes to reflect what’s in season.
Thank you to guest blogger, Maureen Zaremba, for this Good News!