Like the warm aromas that draw customers to a bakery, LWR’s growing culinary scene draws some of Sarasota’s top restaurateurs eastward.
SRQ Review | September 2021
In new restaurants
Like the warm aroma that attracts customers to a bakery, Lakewood Ranch’s growing culinary scene is attracting some of Sarasota’s top restaurateurs to the east. The region’s favorite restaurants will soon set the table, if they haven’t already, in new places. All restaurateurs have relied on Lakewood Ranch customers for years to fill their reservation lists, and now diners have the option of ordering their favorite meals from restaurants minutes from home rather than heading downtown. or further. Management at JPAN, Owen’s Fish Camp, Selva Grill, and Tsunami Sushi & Hibachi Grill are seeing an appetite for their produce and a hunger for their menu options that need to be fed. “Our customers begged for it,” says Samuel Ray, co-owner of Tsunami Sushi and Hibachi Grill. “You have to follow what people want.
Tsunami, a stable in downtown Sarasota, will open a second location at The Green in Lakewood Ranch on State Route 70. Ray says the business has been wanting to expand for some time. In addition to offering sushi east of Interstate-75, the new establishment will serve as a nighttime entertainment venue.
Ray says the restaurant’s first floor will have a casual dining and menu like Sarasota’s, but then there will be a 16-foot fish tank separating the main dining room from a full liquor bar on the other side. Then on the second floor, another bar will serve drinks in a space with room for a live band. “It’s almost three restaurants in one,” says Ray. It’s not the only establishment that aims to elevate the game at Lakewood Ranch and entice customers with a full venue as much as a beloved menu. Owen’s Fish Camp, a Sarasota hotspot named for Sarasota’s founding father, Owen Burns, will open as part of a CASTO project on University Parkway. Co-owner Paul Caragiulo said the restaurant had been looking for a place to expand for years, but it took the right mix to find the perfect development partner in a prime location to take the step of snagging a second shingle.
Working with CASTO and with (company president) Brent Hutchens, we had someone who knows our concept and wants to incorporate it into their development plan,” he says.
The stand-alone restaurant will be similar to the original Owen’s in Sarasota with many seafood and cocktail recipes making the trip to the Ranch. The Caragiulo family plans to take advantage of a lakeside location and offer waterfront dining. A few large trees will be planted in the space.
“We have a little rule – we wouldn’t create places where we wouldn’t want to hang out in ourselves,” Caragiulo said.
The owners of JPAN, which has locations in Siesta Key and University Park, plan to open a new concept in Kore. At Waterside Place, the restaurant introduces Korean barbecue to the landscape. Chris Makpedua, now general manager of the JPAN University Park location, says the new restaurant will use techniques never before seen in this market and will delight diners.
“We will have a grill in the middle to cook in front of you, but our ventilation is from below,” he says. “Normally, the barbecue gives off a lot of smoke, but this one is different. It is designed to suck it in from below. That way you can wear something good and not walk out smelling smoke.
Korê, too, will incorporate live music into his experience.
In addition to attracting customers from a Lakewood Ranch crowd already familiar with JPAN’s reputation, Makpedua predicts the restaurant will attract many people from Sarasota and Manatee counties to make the trip to the Ranch and take in the news. catering options.
Giuseppe “Peppe” del Sole, of Napule Restaurant in Sarasota, has lived in the University Park area for four years. He saw an opportunity with the opening of Waterside Place to bring Italian cuisine to the Ranch. Now the chef will open Osteria 500, the latest restaurant announced in the new center. “Bread, pasta, gnocchi, ravioli, dessert, everything will be done at the restaurant,” he said. “And we’ll have a nice cocktail bar with wines, a nice patio.”
The location seemed attractive because of the waterfront. Del Sole has just returned from a trip to Italy where he purchased furniture representative of his native country to add to the atmosphere of the new restaurant.
And Selva Grill has already started serving the Lakewood Ranch crowd at its University Town Center location. “I had been looking for a second location for a very long time,” said co-owner Jeremy Osment. He originally expected to open a second Selva somewhere near Tampa. But when he saw the space created by Benderson Development available just outside the Ranch, it seemed too perfect to pass up. He abandoned negotiations on a lease in Hillsborough.
“Lakewood Ranch slowly became its own market, separate from Sarasota,” says Osment. “I’m very good.”
Part of the Ranch’s appeal, he said, is that independent restaurants are just beginning to find a niche in the community, but there’s an affluent foodie audience anxious for options. “It’s important that we’re part of a scene, not an island,” Osment said. The opening in a dynamic commercial area guarantees the passage of the doors.