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Ed’s Corner – Dec. 2011

It’s so hard to believe another year has almost come and gone. 2011 has been successful for our company in many ways and we feel very blessed. We are just finishing the first phase of two very important construction projects. At the Sandbar, our new state of the art deck kitchen and new bathrooms will allow us to better serve you and hopefully make your experiences at the restaurant even more pleasurable.  Next year, beginning in late August, we will completely redo the main kitchen and rebuild the Sandbar dining room and bar areas.
The Mar Vista project has added new handicapped compliant bathrooms and an expanded kitchen. This project will also be in two phases with our new “tree house” dining room project starting in late August of 2012 and finishing in time for the holiday season. Imagine sitting in the new Mar Vista Treehouse dining room looking over the tops of the buttonwood trees at beautiful Sarasota Bay all while enjoying fresh seafood and a glass of wonderful wine in a relaxing atmosphere. Special thanks to Mark Anderson, who heads our construction projects as well as Gene Aubry our long time architect and Barron Schimberg who is the head architect of record on the Sandbar project. We also want to thank Brent Whitehead and his entire construction crew who have done such a wonderful job with these projects and for making it possible for us to remain open to continue to serve you during the renovations. I also want to thank our staff for their patience and efforts to continue to provide top quality customer service during the construction. Last of all and most importantly I want to thank all of our customers who have “excused our dust” and continued to join us for courteous, friendly service and great food in an unmatched setting.
I would like to touch base on a few new menu items I think you might find delicious. So far, the Stone Crab season has been pretty good. Captain Anthony Manali has worked hard to keep all three restaurants supplied with this Florida delicacy.  Served cold with our mustard sauce, these are a must do. This year we introduced a brand new item to our guests – Grey Stripped Mullet. Our chefs got creative preparing and cooking it a variety of ways which were all verywell received by our guests. If you didn’t get a chance to try the Mullet this year we plan on having it again next fall, when it is in season, which is when the fillets are at their peak with lots of fat, read that omega 3 oils, prior to spawning.
We have formed a company withlocal wine expert, Seth Cripe, to promote great quality local products! Seth has been in Napa Valley for the last 17 year many of which were spent working with the Wagner family making their premier Caymus wines. Seth is now bottling the second vintage of his highly regarded Lola Pinot Noir. Many of you enjoyed the 2008 vintage which we featured at all three restaurants. We like the wine so much that we joined Seth in the company. We look forward to helping him build this brand. We are delighted to tell you that his second wine, Lola Chardonnay, is now in all three restaurants as well. If you are tired of the over oaked heavy chardonnays, I think you will be impressed with the Lola Chardonnay. It is sourced from Sonoma Coast grapes and aged in 90% stainless steel and 10% oak, giving it a great crisp taste and a clean finish without being too heavy on the oak.  We are excited about this new addition to the Lola brand as well as adding a wonderful new wine to our wine list. We will be featuring the chardonnay by the glass in all of the restaurants too so please have a taste the next time you are in.
Seth also has the first company in the United States to produce Bottarga. Bottarga is the Italian method of curing local grey stripped Mullet roe. For the last 40 years, our largest fishing export has been selling our local Cortez sandy bottom Mullet roe to the Asian market where it is sent half way around the world, cured and sold for hundreds of dollars a pound. Seth is producing bottarga here from fresh, not frozen Mullet, which allows for a far superior product. Bottarga is now being used in some of the finest restaurants in the country and is quickly catching on as a gourmet item. It is delicately shaved into pasta or onto a crunchy piece of bread. It has a round, fat anchovy like taste. We are developing recipes to incorporate it into our menus so stay tuned and if you want to purchase some to try, go to www.cortezbottarga.com  The other item we are excited about is Mote Caviar. This Siberian sturgeon caviar is osetra and the quality and pricing are outstanding. The holidays are a perfect time to treat your family and friends to this wonderful gift from the sea. To purchase some go to www.mote.org.
We have a few more fresh, local offerings we are excited about, like Curt Hemmel’s fresh local middle-neck clams grown in Terra Ceia and some locally grown produce like the heirloom tomato’s we are getting from Eric Geraldson and the team at Gamble Creek Farms. We are even looking at planting a roof top garden on top of the new entrance and bar renovations which we will complete at the end of 2012 at the Sandbar. We strive to bring you the freshest seafood, produce and seasonal products that we can find and that has never been more evident than now that we are partnering with local farm to fork and field to table growers and suppliers like Seth, Curt and Eric.
We are continuing to lend our support to many charitable organizations and this year, the Beachhouse sponsored its first Brawn on the Beach, Amateur Strongman contest this year, in conjunction with City Gym and sponsored by many of our local businesses. The Brawn on the Beach showcased the strongmen of our area lifting up the in need women and children of Hope Family Services.
We were fortunate to be able to award three more Chiles Group scholarships this year to hard working staff members who are striving to reach their goals.
Thanks to the generosity of many the 18th Annual Lawton Chiles Christmas for Kids Party will serve more than 140 kids this year and help make this holiday a special one for them and their families.
Have you seen Pine Avenue Lately? The Pine Avenue Restoration project completed its seventh and eighth buildings and started construction on the ninth. These are all mixed use commercial and residential units providing affordable luxury vacation rentals on top and retail space on the bottom. We have several new boutiques such as the Shiny Fish Emporium and the Candy Stop who have joined the other great shops on Pine Avenue, “The Greenest Little Main Street in America”. We continue to get great feedback on the wonderful new shopping opportunities just around the corner from the Sandbar so if you haven’t had the chance to stroll down Pine Avenue to see the new shops and the exciting new improvements at the landing to the Anna Maria Historic City Pier please do so soon, I think you will be impressed.
While you are on Pine Avenue don’t miss Mom’s art gallery. The Studio at Gulf and Pine is currently featuring one of the largest private collections of Robert Butler’s work. Butler is well known and renowned as one of the original Highwaymen. His Florida landscapes are in high demand by collectors. Robert Harper has his private collection on view and there are many originals and prints for sale at great prices.
With so much going on, we think it is important to take time to reflect on the past year and the many blessings we have received. As we look towards 2012, I, on behalf of the entire management staff and all of our wonderful employees would like to wish you and yours the happiest of holidays and a safe and prosperous 2012.

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