Bernard’s Surf Acquired By Luke Johnson

By  //  June 6, 2012

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ABOVE VIDEO: Luke Johnson outlines some of his business philosophy to members at leading business club One Alfred Place in London – and in particular why entrepreneurs aged over 50 have a natural advantage over their younger peers. ()

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BREVARD COUNTY • COCOA BEACH, FLORIDA – Space Coast can exclusively reveal that a British entrepreneur has acquired the signature Cocoa Beach restaurant property Bernard’s Surf – and has pledged to restore it to its glory days as one of the top “Go To” dining venues on the Space Coast.

British entrepreneur and restaurant magnate Luke Johnson has acquired Bernard’s Surf in Cocoa Beach, Florida ( image)

The multi-millionaire behind this acquisition is British businessman Luke Johnson, who has a string of successes in the UK restaurant business.

His main achievement was building the Pizza Express chain – from a starting point of just 12 premises to more than 250 restaurants in the space of just six years.

Re/Max Elite McCoy-Freeman Group Brokers Deal


Johnson’s  property agents were long-time area realtors Jennifer McCoy and Bobby Freeman of Re/Max Elite.

“Yes, Luke Johnson is the buyer,” said Freeman.


“Jennifer McCoy was Johnson’s buyer’s agent and we were very happy to negotiate the purchase on Mr. Johnson’s behalf.”

Space Coast Daily can also exclusively reveal the purchase price was around $600,000.

Imminent Resurgence

Bernard’s Surf on A1A close to Minutemen at Cocoa Beach fell from grace after several decades as a highly popular dining venue.

Its decline followed its sale to a European group by the long-time family owners, but business suffered badly in the recession and was eventually closed.

Bernard’s Surf on A1A close to Minutemen at Cocoa Beach fell from grace after several decades as a highly popular dining venue. ( image)

But news of its imminent resurgence is bound to raise hopes that the tide of recesison in these parts might be turning.

Bernard’s Surf new owner Luke Johnson is chairman of the UK’s highly prestigious Royal Society of Arts.  He writes regular columns for UK newspaper The Financial Times and Management Today magazine.

Interestingly, Johnson calls himself a “projector,” in line with the 17th century term for a man involved in many different businesses.

He is currently the part owner and chairman of UK’s restaurant businesses Patisserie Valerie, Giraffe Restaurants, Gail’s Artisan Bakery and Feng Sushi and is the former owner of The Ivy, Le Caprice and J Sheeky restaurants.

Signature Restaurants

In 1993 Johnson – with partner Hugh Osmond – took control of Pizza Express, with Johnson becoming chairman. They rapidly expanded the business and took the UK share price from 40p to over 900p.

After selling the business in 1999, Johnson started Signature Restaurants, a ‘crown jewels’ collection of London restaurants, which included The Ivy and Le Caprice, as well as the Belgo chain.

He also started Strada restaurants from scratch, taking the chain to 30 units. He sold both businesses in 2005 – the total proceeds from these two disposals were in excess of £90 million.

As a result of these activities, Johnson is best known for his investments in restaurants, though he has wide portfolio of investments in other industries.

Peter Harden (of the celebrated Harden restaurant guides) stated, when commenting on the history of London restaurants, said: “There are very few people who have had more impact than Luke Johnson.”


  1. Great news for the Space Coast to have a businessman like Luke Johnson buy the Surf and bring it back to life again. Well done – the McCoy- Freeman Group.

  2. Congratulations on a job well done! This is awesome news for the Space Coast and more specifically, Bernard Surf. A man of his experience and wisdom will only bring positive stimulus to our area. I’m looking forward to watching his plan come together.

  3. So excited to see this happen!!! I loved Bernards Surf and hope to see it as successful as it was in the the past! We have so many great memories of special occasions there.

  4. Great News for the Space Coast!!
    Can”t wait to see what the group does with such a great property. I look forward to a new dining opition in this area.

  5. I am still using a paper knife to open envelopes here in the UK which came from Bernard’s. My parents picked it up somewhere between 1951-1955 when we lived in Cocoa Beach as Dad represented the RAF during the early misile testing days. The knife is inscribed ‘I’ll Meet You at Bernard’s Surf Cocktail Lounge. Famous for Fried Shrimp. Cocoa Beach, Florida. We lived in a small row of military houses backing onto the beach – I could run out of the back door, across a single track private road and into the sea. Wonderful.

  6. I do not live close to Cocoa Beach and am wondering how the renovation is going for Benard’s Surf? Are they still going to call it the Surf? I hope so, it is an icon restaurant.

  7. So when will the property be renovated it has been empty since before 2012 It is an eye sore and the building is in such bad shape makes downtown look bad and we need a good to excellent Seafood and Steak restaurant the building is in such bad shape it needs to be torn down and I was told about tearing down by a Cocoa Beach Commissioner Also the Homeless hang out there even with the No Trespassing signs that make the corner look dangerous at least take the building down and grade the land Now and then rebuild soon Luke Johnson show you have a true interest in Cocoa Beach.
    By the way we have an excellent police department get rid of this building will take some work load from our police. Thank You

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