Built in 1962 by local businessman Richard Stottler, the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is a historical landmark on the Space Coast. Stretching 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, the Pier (originally known as “Canaveral Pier”) was constructed with more than 2.5 miles of boardwalk planks and 270 pilings, each 40 feet in length. Since the beginning, the Pier has been a favorite of both locals and tourists, and has undergone many changes over the years. Longtime locals reminisce of the days in the early 1960s when visitors could drive their cars right up onto the Pier itself. The Pier also offered a “grandstand seat” for Mercury, Apollo and Space Shuttle launches at nearby Cape Canaveral (which was known as “Cape Kennedy” in honor of President John F. Kennedy between 1963 and 1973). Famous astronauts such as Alan Shepard, the first American in space, reportedly visited the Pier.
In addition, Cocoa Beach evolved into the “Surfing Capital of the East Coast” and the Pier became the center of surfing activity, drawing the likes of Dick Catri (widely considered the “Godfather of East Coast Surfing”), as well as Cocoa Beach native and 11-time world champion Kelly Slater. The first Easter Surfing Festival was held in 1964. In the early 1970s, the Pier was also home to a bustling dance club called Asylum, which boasted a cosmic lighted dance floor and live rock music. Many musical acts have played at the Pier over the years such as Bachman-Turner Overdrive, The Edgar Winter Group, The Beach Boys, A Flock of Seagulls, UB40, Ratt, Ziggy Marley, Maxi Priest and others.
In 1983, the Pier underwent a $2 million remodeling and expansion, which included the opening of the award-winning Pier House Restaurant (now known as the Atlantic Ocean Grille). Over the years, the restaurant has been awarded “Best in Brevard” and “Best Restaurant with a View” numerous times by Florida Today newspaper readers. In 1984, the Pier changed its name from Canaveral Pier to Cocoa Beach Pier. The first Cocoa Beach Fest was held at the Pier in 1989.
Today, the Pier draws more than one million visitors annually and is home to five restaurants and bars, gift shops and boutiques. The Pier is also the site of immensely popular annual events such as the Easter Surfing Festival, NKF Rich Salick Pro-Am Surfing Festival and “Rockin’ the Dock” New Year’s Eve Party, among others. In the spring of 2014, David Siegel, President and CEO of Westgate Resorts, and his longtime business associate Jim Gissy purchased the Pier from the original owners, the Stottler family. Both men have strong ties to the Central Florida region and look forward to continuing and enhancing the wonderful traditions of the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier.