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Who We Are

Sarasota-Manatee Originals (SMO) is a community of over 60 locally-owned, independent restaurants located in the Manatee and Sarasota counties on Florida's Suncoast. 

SMO works to preserve and celebrate the unique culinary legacy of our area. Our Members' deep local roots and world-class talent have led to some of the most diverse, original and creative restaurants anywhere.

The SMO organization supports the dedication of its Members, confident independent restaurateurs who put their hearts and souls into this industry and are the backbone of their communities. We do this through creative advertising, unique marketing events and opportunities, and forging strategic partnerships.

"When members of the community pull together for a united cause, we give way beyond our individual means. Together, the power becomes unlimited."

Benefits of Joining

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals exists to promote dining in independently owned restaurants and collaborates to serve the interests of the independent restaurateur in our community.

We believe in preserving and enhancing our local culinary legacy through collaborative partnerships with our members, customers, vendors and community.  When you join The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, you become a part of something special.

Benefits of joining include:

  • The Originals coordinate relevant industry-related presentations and seminars designed to encourage education on trending topics important to the industry.
  • The Sarasota-Manatee Originals are dedicated to strengthening the presence of the local, independent restaurant community and preserving the culinary heritage and the uniqueness of the Gulf-coast destination through on-going public relations efforts.
  • SMO offers the opportunity for restaurants to partner in prominent local tasting events which provide the opportunity to engage with your audience, establishing a relationship between your property and your local community and strategic enhancement of the restaurant’s product offering.
  • The Originals’ actively work in the community to provide donations and sponsorships for charitable organizations while helping raise much needed funds for our community.
  • Advertising opportunities include our newly designed website providing extended reach of your product and services.
  • Customers will engage with your restaurant via content driven and effective audience-engaging marketing including blog posts, social media, and email newsletters.
  • Complimentary professional photoshoot every 2 years. Once edited, all images are supplied to the Member for their use and the images will be used by SMO for website, social media and other marketing purposes.
  • An opt-in SMO Group eGift Certificate program increases consumer awareness and number of diners with full reimbursement of certificate value.
  • Free Memberships with Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) and NRA (National Restaurant Association)
  • Buying power in the form of competitive purchasing opportunities of foods and products from our Purveyor Partners
  • Representation in organizations SMO Rack Card with 20K printed annually and distribution including SRQ Airport and I75 Florida Welcome Center.

Member Requirements

  1. Restaurant is located in either Sarasota or Manatee Counties
  2. Restaurant will have less than 6 locations (same concept)
  3. Prospective members must have been in business (open to the public) for a minimum of one (1) year
  4. New member restaurants must be sponsored by an Originals Board Member and approved for membership by Executive Board.

Member Responsibilities

  1. Restaurant participates in Originals quarterly Discount Dining Certificate Sales program
  2. Participation is mandatory in the organization’s annual event, Forks & Corks; If unable to participate in Forks & Corks Grand Tasting, restaurant agrees to participate in another pre-approved Originals event as a food host
  3. Restaurant will display The Originals logo decal at entrance of their restaurant
  4. Restaurant will include The Originals logo with link on their restaurant website (suggested in the footer on your homepage)
  5. Restaurant agrees to abide by the SMO Code of Conduct. Click here for Code of Conduct.
  6. Member will be an Ambassador of our organization, speaking positively on our behalf when the opportunity presents itself.
  7. Belonging to the group means actively participating as defined above. Additionally, Members are encouraged to chair and/or serve on organization’s Board of Directors or other various committees.

So What's Next?
Click here for a membership application.
Once completed, forward it to The Sarasota-Manatee Originals via email to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or mail to 1215 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34239.