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Six Places to Dock and Dine Before Summer Ends

Nothing says “Summer” quite like arriving at a restaurant by boat. There is something enchanting about dining by the water's edge and indulging in mouthwatering cuisine. Where can you dock and dine when you are enjoying a boat day? Sarasota-Manatee Originals is sharing a list of members that provide dock and dine options.

Set Sail, Dock Your Boat & Step Ashore To Indulge In A Delightful Culinary Experience

 

The Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Marina

Have you experienced The Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Marina in Venice?  If Surf & Turf is what you crave, The Crow’s Nest is one of the best restaurants to satisfy your craving.  Start your meal off with Mushroom Flatbread or Oysters Rockefeller, their menu options are sure to please.  Check out their full menu here.

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Crème Brûlée

Aaah, Crème Brûlée. The classic dessert with a creamy custard base and caramelized sugar topping has a fascinating history that traces back to Europe. Variations of custard-based desserts emerged over time, and in the 17th century, a dessert resembling crème brûlée appeared in France. François Massialot included a similar recipe called "crème à l'Angloise" in his cookbook in 1691. The dessert gained popularity in France, with its caramelized sugar topping symbolizing elegance. It became a staple of French cuisine, appearing in cookbooks and fine dining menus. In the 1980s and 1990s, it experienced a resurgence in popularity. Today, crème brûlée can be found worldwide, inspiring creative variations while retaining its luxurious appeal. The dessert's smooth custard and crunchy caramelization continue to captivate dessert enthusiasts.

National Crème Brûlée Day is July 27th.  Not that you need an excuse to eat crème brûlée. Every day is a great day to eat this sweet treat!  Want to learn where you can find amazing crème brûlée along the Gulf Coast?

Sarasota-Manatee Originals’ Members That Serve Crème Brûlée 

We asked some of our area’s best Chefs about their Crème Brûlée creations. You may find classic crème brûlée or crème brûlée with an elevated flavor.  Either way, we are sure you will love this decadent dessert from any of these restaurants.    

1592’s Maple Syrup Crème Brûlée - 1592 Wood Fired Kitchen & Cocktails

2’s Maple Syrup Crème Brûlée

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Fun, Food & Fireworks - Celebrating July 4th!

As the Fourth of July approaches you may start making plans to gather with family and friends to watch the local fireworks display.  Watching the fireworks can be an amazing experience as we all celebrate our country’s independence.  You may have your favorite spot to go to year after year, which can be a fun tradition; however, Sarasota-Manatee Originals is sharing some ways that you can take your tradition to the next level.

What if you had an early dinner at one of the local restaurants that are located close to your favorite firework display on July 4th?  Or what if you dined at one of the local restaurants while you were enjoying the fireworks?!  Sounds fun, right?  Here we are sharing a list of restaurants from Palmetto to Venice and everything in between to do just that!

Venice

On July 4, 2023, Venice will start its firework display shortly after 9:00 pm and is set to last for 30 minutes from the south Venice Jetty in the Venice Beach area.  These fireworks can be seen anywhere along Venice Beach, Caspersen Beach, or Nokomis Beach.  If you plan on watching on the beaches of Venice or the surrounding waterways be sure to arrive early as thousands of spectators are thought to be gathering for the Venice firework display.

Another option would be to have a nice relaxing evening while dining at some of your favorite local restaurants.  You may be able to dine as you enjoy the fireworks or have dinner before heading to the beach to watch the sunset followed by an amazing fireworks display.

Cassariano Italian Eatery

313 West Venice Avenue

Cassariano Italian Eatery serves up Contemporary Italian Cuisine that is the perfect blend of rich bistro flavors, fine wine, and a relaxed, ideal atmosphere that cultivates good feelings and fond memories. 

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Waterfront Dining

Waterfront dining offers a unique and enjoyable experience, combining delicious food with sparkling views of the water.  Whether you like waterfront dining for its scenic views, relaxing ambiance, variety of cuisine, romantic setting, or spectacular sunsets - or all of the above.  Sarasota-Manatee Originals can give you some insight into the best local restaurants that offer that and so much more.

Beach House Waterfront Restaurant

Does sitting on a climate-friendly outdoor deck sipping on a frozen tropical drink and eating a delicious spread of seafood sound like the perfect dining experience to you?  The Beach House on Bradenton Beach is the place to do just that.  Take a look at what the Beach House has to offer here.

The Château Anna Maria

If an upscale restaurant with a casual atmosphere is how you roll, The Château, located inside the Waterline Villas & Marina property in Holmes Beach on Anna Maria Island is a must. The menu is French-inspired and features sustainable seafood, prime cuts, and fresh ingredients. Personable service, water views, and outdoor seating complete the island's chic experience. Check out their breakfast, lunch, dinner, and weekend Brunch menus here.

Crow’s Nest Restaurant & Marina

The Crow's Nest Restaurant, Tavern & Marina has been Venice's Waterfront Landmark since 1976. If fresh seafood is something you are craving, the Crow’s Nest is the place to be.  You can enjoy a fine dining experience with a gorgeous view of the Venice Inlet from the upstairs dining room or a more casual and cozier experience in their downstairs tavern. Check out their menu here.

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If It Is Italian Food That You Crave - You Will Want To Visit These Restaurants

Whether you are craving the perfect pizza that feels like pure happiness in the first bite or something like the truffle sacchettini that makes your mouth water, these Italian menu items and more can be found in our members’ restaurants. These restaurants and their Italian dishes do not disappoint.  Ready to learn more about the best places in the Sarasota area to experience amazing Italian food?

Amore

You will feel right at home in this casual, comfortable dining environment.  Amore Restaurant offers a delightful Portuguese & Italian fusion.  If you are looking to enjoy a tasty Italian dish, Amore restaurant is an excellent choice.  Pappardelle Bolognese or Chicken Livornese will have you saying - yes, please!  Take a look at all of their menu options here.

Bevardi’s Salute!

Do you love house-made pasta, authentic Italian food, and fresh seafood?  Bevardi’s Salute! Is the place for you!  You will be dining in an award-winning, family-friendly local favorite spot offering a full bar and a charming indoor dining ambiance.  Their menu items raise the bar and are an absolute must-try.  Ravioli Aragosta is their house-made lobster ravioli topped with grilled shrimp in a brandy blush sauce.  This dish along with others on the menu is sure to satisfy your Italian food cravings.

Café Gabbiano 

Café Gabbiano brings Italy to Siesta Key!  Their menu is brought to you by a talented team of chefs who expertly create each meal according to family recipes.  The choice isn’t easy with these amazing dishes, but you can not go wrong with any of them.  For sure you will be coming back for more of Café Gabbiano’s Italian cuisine and its welcoming ambiance.

Cassariano Italian Eatery

Cassariano is the place to be for all things Italian food.  Is Spaghetti Carbonara a favorite of yours or are you looking forward to trying their Cassariano’s Cannelloni di Salmone al Pesto?  You will fall in love with all of the dishes on their menu.  How could you not?  They have locations in Venice and Lakewood Ranch for you to experience true Italian cuisine. 

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Learning About Wines from Those Who Made Them

The 16th annual Forks & Corks, Sarasota’s popular four-day food & wine festival, held its four sold-out University Master Classes on Saturday, April 22nd, 2023.

While I love the camaraderie and fine wines and food experience at the event’s winemaker dinners, and the pure fun and excitement of the Grand Tasting, for me it’s the Master Classes that present the best opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most esteemed winemakers.

I stopped in at Michael’s Wine Cellar on Saturday morning to get a taste of the class entitled “South African Adventure.” Owners and winemakers from six of South Africa’s most esteemed wineries had traveled more than 8,000 miles to take part in the festival.

Each place setting included tasting portions of 11 wines in their sparkling glasses, both red and white, and a plate of charcuterie – meats and cheeses, crackers, artisan breads, grapes, strawberries, and more – that paired well with the wines.

Prior to the event, I spoke with Yair (a panelist at the event) and Lynne Safriel, founders of Safriel House Wines, who were attending their first Forks & Corks this year. The two are based in Tampa and immigrated to the United States from South Africa about 20 years ago.

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It's Time To Celebrate!!

Want to take Mom somewhere special for Mother’s Day?  Or are you looking into planning the ultimate Cinco de Mayo fiesta?  Well, we’ve got you covered.  Whether you want to celebrate Mom or Cinco de Mayo or both we got some fun ways to do just that!  

Let’s Start By Showing Mom Some Love

element steak. seafood. pasta.

Take Mom out for an elegant dining experience at element steak. seafood. pasta. in Downtown Sarasota, offering an extensive wine list and a cocktail bar as well as a beautiful outdoor terrace and a private dining room.  What mom wouldn’t like to be taken out for brunch?  Element has a fabulous selection of menu items for brunch starting at 11:00 AM to 2:00 PM on May 14th.

Sandbar Seafood & Spirits

Beachside brunch?  Yes, please!  Celebrate Mother’s Day by taking Mom to the Sandbar.  The Sandbar is hosting a delectable brunch buffet that will not only satisfy the taste buds but will also feel oh-so relaxing dining with the most amazing beach views.  Book your reservation for this beachside brunch now.  Brunch is served from 10:00 AM to 12:30 PM. 

Amore Restaurant

What better way to show Mom how much you love her than taking her to Amore?  You are sure to have an amazing meal with their Portuguese and Italian Cuisine.  Live music performed by Eddie Tobin and all moms will be presented with a rose on Mother’s Day.  Make your reservations today.

 

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April Events You Are Not Going To Want To Miss

Are you looking for some fun events in April but not sure what is deserving of your valuable time?  Well, we have some April events that you are not going to want to miss.  For starters, let’s talk about Forks & Corks!!!  Foodies and wine lovers, Forks & Corks was specially curated for you!  

Sarasota - Manatee Originals and its members are beyond excited to present you with the following April events.  These events are bringing the fun, food, and of course wine.

Forks & Corks Online Food and Wine Auction

This auction will be open for preview on Thursday, April 13, with real-time bidding starting on Monday, April 17 at 8:00 AM and ending on Sunday, April 23 at 3:00 PM

Forks & Corks Wine Dinners & More

April 20

Pop’s Sunset Grill featuring Babylonstoren | 11:30 AM (Brunch)

Element: Steak. Seafood. Pasta featuring ZD Wines | 6:30 PM

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What To Look Forward To At Forks & Corks 2023

Are you ready to have the best epicurean experiences of the year?  We are talking about the 2023 Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival - of course.  If you love sinking your teeth into the best food the area has to offer and sipping the finest of wines you are not going to want to miss this year’s Forks & Corks.  These events we have lined up for you are sure to be a true treat for the taste buds.

Now Let’s Talk Details

2023 Forks & Corks Online Food and Wine Auction 

Opening for preview on Thursday, April 13, 2023, with real-time bidding starting on Monday, April 17 at 8:00 AM.  This auction will feature rare and exquisite wines, travel, and extraordinary dining and party experiences.  These special events are all made possible by the generosity of visiting wineries and the friends of Sarasota-Manatee Originals.

Bidding takes place exclusively online.  The funds raised by the Forks & Corks Online Auction are dedicated to promoting and sustaining over 60 local independent restaurants that are members of Sarasota-Manatee Originals.  Support these local restaurants by joining this online auction - ending on Sunday, April 23, 2023, at 3:00 PM.

Forks & Corks Wine Dinners And Events

Join us in raising a glass to the most legendary pairings from April 20 thru April 24, 2023.  The Suncoast’s most passionate culinary professionals and restaurateurs are showcasing their world-class wines and delectable dishes at Forks & Corks Wine Dinners and Events.  Stay tuned for more information on this event that highlights visiting winemakers and winery representatives from various member restaurants from Bradenton to Venice.

Forks & Corks University Master Classes

The Master Classes of Forks & Corks University are most definitely a highlight of the Festival each year!  You are not going to want to miss this experience led by a panel of world-renowned industry experts.  These engaging wine seminars are designed for those who want an educational experience accompanied by guided tastings. Be part of this rare opportunity to learn about wine with those that are instrumental in crafting them

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You’ll Want To Get Your Claws On This List!

Did you know that there is a day designated to celebrate crab meat?  March 9th is the day to celebrate all things crab meat and the tasty recipes that are created with it.  One of the many things local restaurants do best is seafood and that of course includes tasty crab dishes.  Take a look at what our members offer up on their menus of this delicious delicacy that is absolutely crabulous! 

 

Visit the Riverhouse Waterfront Restaurant which serves up two must-have crab dishes.  Start your meal off with their Blue Crab Dip or try an order of their Tampa Bay Crab Cakes.  Your taste buds will thank you for it!

 

Pier 22’s menu does not disappoint with its crab offerings.  Try mouth-watering delights such as their Crab Cakes, Jumbo Lump Blue Crab, Soft Shell Crab Sandwich, Crab Artichoke Pesto, and Seafood Cobb Salad.  You can not go wrong with any of these tasty crab choices.

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Holiday Feasts and Catering with The Originals

If you are looking for insight on all of the holiday events, buffets, and catering, look no further. What's a more special way to support small businesses this year than by catering food or hosting an event at your favorite locally-owned and operated restaurants. 

All of our trusted eateries will help you enjoy this holiday season! View our entire member restaurant list HERE.

Restaurants listed below may offer holiday catering, event spaces on site, buffet's, or to-go menus to enjoy in the comfort of your home! 

All Holiday hours, events, and offerings vary! Call ahead for updates on menus, pricing and catering pick-up/delivery instructions. It would also be in your best interest to order/reserve your spots in advance!

Café Gabbiano can host any size event. Onsite private dining, offsite, or drop off catering. Click HERE to view their Thanksgiving Menu.

Venice

Café Venice Restaurant & Bar | 941.484.1855 | cafevenicerestaurantandbar.com

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[The Dish] Amore Galore for the Seafood Cataplana

Tracking down authentic Portuguese cuisine is not an effortless task in Sarasota-Manatee, and even the best purveyors aren’t always overtly on the radar. Case in point: Amore Restaurant in Sarasota.

Titularly, this locale conjures up images of Italian food, but half of the menu is actually Portuguese. Here, owners Tito and Liana Vitorino serve a signature dish called the Cataplana de Marisco (Seafood Cataplana) with lobster tail, shrimp, clams, mussels, calamari with red bell peppers, onions and sliced boiled potatoes in a seafood broth. The Portuguese entrée is named after the copper pan in which it is cooked and served.

According to Tito Vitorino, who is also Amore’s chef, “Portuguese cuisine can be the simplest of Mediterranean to the earthy and eccentric of Brazil, Mozambique and Macua (thanks to the 15 th -century Portuguese explorers and the new ingredients they discovered during the Great Navigations).” Fascinating! And, while Portuguese cuisine is world-famous, many people still aren’t aware of the impact Portugal has had on worldwide fare. Other Portuguese delicacies at Amore include the salted cod and a Portuguese sausage that is flame-grilled right at the table.

Both Tito and Liana Vitorino—who previously ran the Amore on Longboat Key—are originally from Portugal, and they grew up within five miles of each other. They’re continuing to make regulars fall in love with both Italy and Portugal, all in one sitting, without ever leaving the Florida table.

Amore Restaurant, 180 N. Lime Ave., Sarasota, 941-383-1111. amorelbk.com

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[The Dish] Getting Stuffed on Blueberry Pancakes at The Breakfast House

Simple, fluffy blueberry pancakes—just on their own—are reason enough to eat breakfast any hour of the morning or evening. Add lemon curd, lavender and ricotta cheese to the mix, and it is go time!

At The Breakfast House—a Key-West-style bungalow in Sarasota's Historic Downtown Village—owner Wendy Lee Goldberg whips up her coveted Lemon-Lavender-Ricotta-Stuffed Blueberry Pancakes, and she is no stranger to making upwards of 300 on any given Saturday. What makes the flapjacks so fabulous? Goldberg, who opened The Breakfast House 13 years ago, invented them. The New York Daily News even compiled a roundup of the best pancakes in every state and, for Florida, The Breakfast House took the (pan)cake.

The pancake recipe actually originated with an extract experiment. Goldberg has regularly sourced her all-natural, organic flavorings from a secret spot in California. Once, she ordered a sample box of extracts from the company (with butter rum, coconut and vanilla) and some lavender came in the package, so she added a bit to her pancake batter. The idea of using ricotta in the mix was inspired by cannoli filling, and the lemon curd adds a little tartness. Goldberg also uses whole-fat buttermilk and clarified butter. Not that the stuffed pancakes need it, but Goldberg serves only genuine Vermont maple syrup at her locale. So drizzle it on a stack and get decadent.

The Breakfast House, 1817 Fruitville Road, Sarasota, 941-366-6860

Featured in SRQ Daily Tuesday Foodie Edition 
By: Abby Weingarten | Published on: Tuesday, April 5, 2022
Pictured: The signature Blueberry Pancakes at The Breakfast House are stuffed with lavender, lemon curd and ricotta cheese. Photo by Peter Acker

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Originals Delighted To Announce Ongoing Sysco Partnership

Representatives of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals (SMO) are thrilled to announce the continued partnership of premier wholesale restaurant distributor Sysco for 2022.  Regional management of the trusted broadliner worked closely with SMO staff and Executive Board Members to design a program that was relevant and sustainable in its support of locally-owned, independent restaurants by offering discounts and buying incentives to SMO’s Members. Sysco is also providing the SMO organization meaningful rewards used to underwrite the not-for-profits’ marketing initiatives. 

“Since its inception, the SMO restaurant collective’s primary mission has been to provide its Members with tools to help compete with the national and multi-unit chains in their communities,” said Marc Grimaud, Owner of Café Gabbiano and SMO Board President, “and Sysco has been a steadfast and gracious partner and ally from the beginning of the journey. Working with Sysco to provide ‘buying power’ in the form of competitive purchasing opportunities of foods and products for our Members is one of the strongest pillars of support we can offer our local restaurateurs.” 

2022 Partnership Marks 15 years of Cooperative Support for Local Restaurants

“At Sysco we have a purpose statement: Connecting The World To Share Food and Care For One Another,”  states Antonette Palacios, Vice President of Sales, Sysco North Florida Region. “Together, we are excited to partner with the Sarasota Originals to help them serve their customers and teams each and every day.”

Sarasota-Manatee Originals was established in September 2003 based on a shared passion to celebrate and preserve the community’s culinary sense of place. A group of 24 independent restaurant owners and chefs from Sarasota and Manatee counties had learned to see their neighbor restaurants as collaborators, not competition and came together to become Florida's first chapter of a group of its kind. Today the “Originals” are over 60 restaurants strong, spanning 40 miles of Florida’s central Gulf coast and providing guests with unique local flavor from the north shore of Anna Maria Island down to the southern beaches of Venice and every neighborhood in between.

Standing stronger together, the Originals organization works to preserve, elevate and celebrate the culinary heritage its Members represent - defined not so much by a particular flavor or cuisine, but by the passionate personality, dedication to the highest quality, and love of community that mark the independent restaurant professional. SMO supports their Member restaurants with creative, cooperative advertising, unique marketing events and opportunities, and forging strategic partnerships such as this one with Sysco. “The Sarasota-Manatee Originals are honored to align with Sysco in support of our mission and so very appreciative of Sysco’s ongoing partnership with the local restaurant community,” added Grimaud.

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[The Dish] Lobster Love at Michael’s On East

Excursions to Maine are few and far between for many of us in Southwest Florida. But we can still revisit the memory of scoring fresh crustaceans along the coast without ever leaving our houses. Michael’s On East makes it easy.

The Classic Lobster Pot Special—with its two whole 1¼-pound Maine lobsters, littleneck clams, Prince Edward Island mussels, red bliss potatoes, corn on the cob and drawn butter—quenches the New England craving. It has been a Friday night staple at the Sarasota restaurant for more than two decades.

Sometimes, after the workday wraps, try waiting until exactly 5:30 p.m. and speedily place a to-go order (use the “Michael’s at Home” feature on the website; there’s an online tile just for this occasion). If you prefer to go in person, they’ll give you a signature bib. For takeout, keep your metal lobster crackers on standby at home so you can start devouring as soon the takeout package hits your kitchen counter.

Whatever your preference is for dining—on the living room coffee table or at a fancy onsite table—make your reservation for the dish early because lobsters are limited and the demand is high (also, the market price fluctuates).

And if you’re wondering how the lobster special became such a coveted commodity in the first place, its origin dates back to the late 1990s when it was featured at Michael's Seafood Grille in the Sarasota Quay. After the restaurant suffered a fire and was not able to reopen, the special was brought to Michael's On East around 2000.

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[The Dish] Rockin’ Tacos at Birdrock Taco Shack

Saturday afternoons in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts have evolved into a mini ritual, bookended with gemstone shopping and taco scarfing. After a stop at The Village Mystic for selenite wands, a walk over to Birdrock Taco Shack for Baja-style fare is the flavorful finale.

At this eclectic little hideaway—which just shifted locations (still in the same neighborhood, in a century-old cracker home with patio room for Grateful Dead cover bands)—there are folded-up, savory bites for every palate.

One of the stars is the avocado bahn mi taco with pickled vegetables, pico de gallo, cilantro and lime on a corn tortilla (a twist on the Vietnamese recipe without the typical baguette). Birdrock’s chef and restaurateur Dave Shiplett actually pickles the veggies himself and scores his avocados from the local flea market.

This taco is exemplifies his belief that “food should be appreciated for its simplicity and the natural perfection of good ingredients,” says Shiplett, who is a classically trained French chef. “What makes a signature dish is some kind of simplicity in the preparation so it can be created again and again with the same high-quality, more complicated dishes.”

And simplicity is the common menu thread at Birdrock. To start things off, check out the avocado smash guacamole with tomato, lime and radish—confident enough in its perfect simplicity to be “nearly famous,” as the menu suggests. There is a slew of meaty and vegan options on the taco front—from the beef tamale corn husk, steamed with cilantro and chile butter; to the coldwater lobster nachos with Baja sauce; to the beet and goat cheese taco with sriracha and sunflower seeds. Burrito-wise, the pork carnitas with rice, beans, cabbage and pico is as crave-able as the Asian barbecue short rib with pepperjack queso and fried onion pico.

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F&C 2022 Update: Readying to Pull Corks and Fill Forks this May

The Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival, hosted annually by the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, will return in May with a palate-pleasing menu of events, ranging from the always popular University Master Classes, to an enticing Virtual Auction and a bountiful selection of Food and Wine Experiences from which to choose. Mark your calendars for May 9-15, 2022.For the second year in a row, missing from the roster of events will be the massive Grand Tasting that normally takes place in the Ringling Museum courtyard. Concerns about vintners traveling from abroad, supply chain issues and key staffing shortages, all brought on by COVID, led the Originals' Board of Directors to make this difficult decision.“While we know how the community looks forward to the excitement of the Grand Tasting, the difficulties that restaurants and wineries continue to face made our decision the right one,” said Michael Klauber, Founding Member of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals and 2022 Auction Chairman. “We promise that this year’s event will have enormous opportunities for guests to participate and for our visiting vintners and restaurateurs to showcase their talents in the local restaurants that we are so fortunate to have in our community.”Forks & Corks is the primary annual fundraiser for the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, supporting local, independently-owned restaurants and encouraging locals and visitors to our area to always “Eat Like a Local.”Whether you are a seasoned wineaux or still figuring out the different between Moscato and Merlot, they'll be something perfect for you.  This year’s epicurean festival will include:

  • May 9-15: A bountiful buffet of limited-time “Food and Wine Experiences" will be available during the week, including wine dinners, unique food-and-wine pairings, special menus, bottle discounts, cooking classes, tasting experiences and more - offered for dine-in or take-out at participating Member Restaurants.
  • May 9-15: Raise your virtual paddles at an Online Food and Wine Auction featuring rare and highly sought-after wines, international and domestic trips, and one-of-a-kind dining and party experiences. All funds raised by the Forks & Corks Online Food and Wine Auction are dedicated to promoting and sustaining the more than 60 local independent area restaurants that are members of the Sarasota-Manatee Originals. The auction will open for previewing on Thursday, May 5, with bidding opening on May 9.
  • May 14 and 15: Led by a panel of world-renowned wine industry professionals, the University Master Classes are always a festival highlight. This year’s classes will once again present a rare opportunity to learn about wines from those instrumental in crafting them.

Additional details on the festival and tickets to Forks & Corks events will be available soon at EatLikeALocal.comThe Originals are thankful for ther 2022 Forks & Corks Sponsors including Sweet Sparkman Architecture and Interiors, Icard Merrill, and Atlas Insurance.

Please Take Action - Tell Congress to Replenish the RFF

Restaurants and bars are central to the soul of any city. Here on Florida's Gulf Coast, our community’s diversity, values, and spirit are expressed through the casual eateries, fine dining establishments, and late-night spots that unite us. Each of these is a stage for memories, big and small: birthdays, anniversaries, networking, catching up with friends, chance meetings.

The COVID-19 pandemic devastated communities around the world. Our local restaurants and bars did their part to stem the spread of the virus by shuttering their doors and reimagining their businesses to try and survive. Too many small restaurants had to close forever during the pandemic, despite the wave of public aid. As we move towards a post-pandemic future, many bars and restaurants are still on the precipice of financial survival.

More financial relief is needed to help restaurant owners continue to stay afloat as the omicron variant deals a major blow to the restaurant industry. The most-recent National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey notes that 76% of restaurant operators report "that their conditions are worse now than they were just three months ago."

We need Congress to take immediate action.
90,000 restaurants have closed their doors temporarily or long term.
We need legislation to replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Earlier this week, the NRA launched a grassroots campaign urging industry members to reach out to Congress.

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This Valentine's Day, Show Your "Local Love" ❤️❤️

Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to express love and support to those in your life. It’s also yet another opportunity to support your local small businesses. 
Purchasing from local businesses not only provides a unique and special gift but also helps support those in your community who need you now more than ever. 

Here are a few ideas for shopping small this Valentine’s Day:

Dine (or Take Out) at Local Restaurants
The restaurant industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. There are many ways that you can support them for this Valentine’s Day. If you feel comfortable, dine out at a local restaurant. If you don’t feel comfortable dining out, that’s completely okay, purchase take-out and have an at-home Valentine’s Day catered by your favorite Sarasota-Manatee Originals Member Restaurant.

Our local, home-grown restaurants are eager and ready to help you make this Valentine’s Day special. And please consider leaving a generous tip that shows how much you appreciate them.

Consider Gift Cards
In terms of gift-giving, think of purchasing gift cards from local businesses, and if possible purchase multiple! Grab a few for future date-nights or show love to your family and friends. Think about purchasing gift cards for experiences (we will be able to DO things again soon!), not only restaurants, but retail, salons, and spas, or your loved one’s favorite masseuse (we love ALL things local).

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The Originals Story

As the world bid welcome to the new millennium, Sarasota residents and business owners rolled into 2000 with cautious optimism. The hidden jewel of Florida’s Suncoast had been discovered. Most notably, the town’s rich cultural sophistication and natural beauty had caught the eye of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company. The construction of a Ritz-Carlton Hotel would announce to the world that the former sleepy ‘Circus City’ had achieved top-drawer status. The ensuing land boom and downtown resurgence would draw even more attention to the area’s opportunities and local restaurant owners soon found themselves competing with big brand chains. 

Michael Klauber (Owner, Sarasota’s Michaels on East restaurant; est 1987) remembers. “We realized that Sarasota was changing, and we were starting to see the big guys coming in. None of us had the budgets to battle these highly subsidized corporations.” Klauber discovered that dozens of other local restaurateurs were lying awake at night with similar worries. D’Arcy Arpke (Co-owner, Longboat Key’s Euphemia Haye restaurant, est 1980) helped Klauber to “circle the wagons,” encouraging other independently-owned restaurateurs to join forces and work cooperatively to develop and launch a neighborhood initiative called the “Sarasota-Manatee Originals.”

The Sarasota-Manatee Originals was established in September 2003 based on a shared passion to celebrate and preserve the community’s culinary sense of place. A group of 24 independent restaurant owners and chefs from Sarasota and Manatee counties had learned to see their neighbor restaurants as collaborators, not competition and came together to become Florida's first chapter of a group of its kind.

Today the “Originals” are over 60 restaurants strong, spanning 40 miles of Florida’s central Gulf coast and providing guests with unique local flavor from the north shore of Anna Maria Island down to the southern beaches of Venice and every neighborhood in between.

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

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