In its 113 years, the Gonzmart Family of Restaurants has become Florida-famous, currently owning and operating 13 restaurants within the state, including Columbia Restaurant and Cha Cha Coconuts here in Sarasota, Goody Goody Burgers in Tampa and one of the largest Spanish restaurants in the world—the original Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. Now Richard Gonzmart, current caretaker of the Gonzmart Family name, has plans for a new high-concept eatery, the like of which he says has never been seen—The Buccaneer. Planned for the spot on Longboat Key recently vacated by PattiGeorge’s, this latest venture celebrates the past while simultaneously pushing the envelope for local dining. 

“You have to explore,” says Gonzmart, returning from a quick jaunt to New Zealand and Australia, just a small part of his whirlwind global tour hunting down artifacts and antiques to create a singular décor. Far from being exhausted, the travel leaves him energized and he gushes over his finds, which range from antique armoires from Bordeaux, France, pirate maps and grandfather clocks from the 16th century and an aged tigerwood tea chest and stand from Ireland. “Even the way I present tea will be unique,” he says. But the piece that means the most is one that comes from closer to home—a 1921 Steinway piano that his mother, a concert pianist, used to play. Currently being refurbished, it will become a centerpiece of the planned landmark.

Inspired by the buccaneers of the Caribbean—professional privateers, not pirates, Gonzmart insists—and the Buccaneer Inn, an LBK icon from 1957 to 2001, the concept blends the energy and excitement of swashbuckling adventure with the fine dining and respectable atmosphere Longboat Key diners have come to expect. Using a Buccaneer Inn menu from 1957, he finds highlights like the charcoal-grille prime rib, which he doesn’t see on too many menus these days but would like to see return. Using only local ingredients, there will be no freezer on-site, except for house-made ice cream. “It’s more than just a restaurant,” says Gonzmart, “its bringing back these memories and expanding upon them.”

With an aim to open in 2019, there is no definite opening date yet. Designing the restaurant himself, Gonzmart has gone through three architects already, trying to find the right fit to bring his dream to fruition. “None of them understand my vision,” he says. “But if you do it right, there will be that return.”