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SRQ DAILY Jan 31, 2023

Tuesday Dining and Food Edition

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Tuesday Dining and Food Edition

"People in New England think lobster rolls are only available in the summer but in Sarasota, the seasons are flipped, and sales of lobster rolls are higher during the winter."

- Captain Mike Harden, Owner, LobsterCraft.

[The Dish]  LobsterCraft Highlights Connecticut State Sandwich
Laura Paquette, laura.paquette@srqme.com

In 2000, a massive die-off of lobsters caused financial difficulties for Captain Mike Harden, a Connecticut-based lobster fisherman and Coast Guard Captain. Unable to make a living from fishing alone, Harden needed to find a solution. He tried a variety of ventures, including a dinner cruise and selling lobsters himself. “It was my wife’s idea to take the small amount of lobster that I was still catching and start a food truck,” says Harden. When he opened the LobsterCraft food truck in 2012, selling delicious lobster rolls, the official state sandwich of Connecticut, it was one of the state’s first gourmet food trucks.

“The two things that I’m good at are fishing and cooking,” he adds, “and we were so well received that it was a no-brainer to continue.” Because lobsters are expensive, the best way to profit from a lobster roll company is by vertically integrating the business. This means that the establishment that cooks and serves the lobster rolls also sources the lobsters themselves, instead of purchasing them elsewhere.

LobsterCraft exploded in popularity around Connecticut, expanding from food trucks to brick-and-mortar locations, but Harden saw the potential to grow the business further. “People in New England think lobster rolls are only available in the summer,” he says, “but in Sarasota, the seasons are flipped, and sales of lobster rolls are higher during the winter.” In April of 2022, Harden opened a brick-and-mortar LobsterCraft location in St. Armands Circle. He also runs a LobsterCraft food truck in Sarasota, available to book for events, farmers' markets and catering.

Having been voted the best lobster roll in the country twice, Harden takes pride in his products. His guests’ favorite roll is the Coastal roll, featuring hot buttered lobster on a toasted bun, followed by the Heat Wave roll, lobster finished with a spicy habanero and serrano pepper-infused butter. The Dirty Maynard, a cold lobster salad roll perfect for the Florida heat is also popular, along with the homemade lobster mac n cheese.

“It’s the perfect lobster roll,” says Harden, careful not to give away any of the secrets that make the product stand out, but eager to share it with hungry customers.

LobsterCraft, 28A S. Blvd. of the Presidents, St. Armands Circle, Sarasota, 941-346-6325. 

Pictured: A lobster roll from LobsterCraft brings New England taste to Florida. Photo Courtesy of LobsterCraft.

[Seasonal Menu]  Fords Garage Introduces Comfort Foods with a Twist

The results are in from the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot” Culinary Forecast, and comfort fare is making a comeback, landing the number two spot in macro dining trends for 2023. Ford’s Garage, your neighborhood burger and beer joint inspired by the heritage of the Ford Motor Company, invites guests to enjoy a limited-edition Comfort Foods menu featuring unique seasonal dishes with a twist.Available now through April 3, the trendy menu features a selection of comfort food classics for guests to enjoy as they connect with friends and family over the nostalgic vibe and timeless cuisine. Diners can indulge in: Fill ‘Er Up Philly Cheeseburger – Half-pound of grilled Black Angus, Caramelized Onions, Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Tillamook® Pepperjack Cheese and Ford’s Beer Cheese, Apple Bacon Jam Bone-In Pork Chop – 10oz. Bone-in Pork Chop seasoned, seared and topped with Fire Roasted Apple Slices, Bacon Jam and Apple Bumbu Rum Glaze, served with two sides of choice, Checkered Flag Waffle Bites – Crispy Belgium Waffle Bites tossed with Cinnamon Sugar, dusted with Powdered Sugar and served with Caramel Sauce alongside freshly whipped cream for dipping. These new menu items pair perfectly with limited-edition hand-crafted cocktails, including: Tipsy Mechanic – Buffalo Trace Whiskey, Q Ginger Beer, Black Cherry Puree and fresh Lemon Juice, Winding Road – Bumbu Rum, Skrewball Peanut Butter Whiskey, Pure Cane Syrup and Bitters. 

Pictured: Fill Er Up Philly Cheeseburger is a winning meal at Fords Garage. Courtesy of Fords Garage.

[New Menu]  Bijou Garden Cafe Debuts New Winter Menu

Bijou Garden Café, an iconic downtown restaurant offering fine dining with an elegant and inviting ambiance in the heart of Sarasota’s theatre and arts district since 1986, is debuting a new seasonal menu this week. The culinary team, led by executive chef Christopher Covelli, is introducing new entrees and cocktails inspired by seasonal ingredients. “If I could describe this winter menu in one word, it would be elevated,” said Covelli. “Our lobster bisque isn’t made from a paste. It’s made from fresh lobster, butter and vegetables. You can taste the quality, and we’ve applied that level of detail to all of our dishes.” In addition to the lobster bisque with parmesan-polenta medallion, some of the new seasonal entrees include roasted cippolini and escarole salad with prosciutto and bleu cheese crumbles; crab stuffed onion ring with smoked paprika aioli and frisee salad; honey curry salmon with corn salsa and avocado; lamb ragu over house-made campanelle pasta; chicken schnitzel over spaetzle with braised purple cabbage and crispy onions; and braised bison short rib with demi glace, sauteed mushrooms and red potatoes, among others. The new winter cocktail list offers a number of refreshing alcoholic beverages with names inspired by the restaurant’s proximity to area arts organizations, including the Jazz Hands, made with La Luna mezcal, Aperol, Gran Gala, rhubarb, lemon and kiwi, and Bye Bye Birdie, made with Empress gin, cucumber, raspberry, lime and soda, among others. The restaurant will continue to offer live music in the dining room on Friday and Saturday evenings as well as the successful monthly musical brunches.Bijou Garden Café is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. 

Pictured: Honey curry salmon. Courtesy of Bijou Garden Cafe.

To make a reservation click here.

[School Enrollment]  2023-2024 School Choice Enrollment Window February 1 to February 28

The district’s School Choice process requires that an online application be completed. Beginning Wednesday, February 1, parents and guardians can complete and submit their online applications using a computer, tablet, or cell phone. If assistance is needed to access and submit an online application, parents and guardians may contact the Office of Accountability and Choice at 941-927-9000, ext. 32258. Parents and guardians will be notified via email of choice assignments in April. If awarded a choice seat, parents and guardians must formally accept the assignment by following the directions in the email, or their choice seat will be forfeited. Available seats at some of the schools that are open to School Choice may be limited to certain grade levels if those schools are at, or near, their enrollment capacity for those grades. The complete list of schools and grade levels open to School Choice is available on the School Choice/Controlled Open Enrollment (COE) Overview webpage under the “downloads” heading: www.sarasotacountyschools.net/Page/2502. School Choice/COE assignments will be determined by a random lottery process, rather than on a first-come, first-served basis. Students living in Sarasota County who are applying for an assignment through the School Choice/COE process will not be displaced by the applicants living outside the county. A School Choice/COE assignment does not guarantee acceptance into a magnet or special program at a school. Schools that are open to School Choice/COE for the 2023-2024 school year may host open houses or other family information events. Parents and guardians are encouraged to visit the websites of schools on the “open” School Choice/COE list, or contact those schools directly, for more information. All school websites are accessible via the “Schools” button located at the top of the district’s website (www.sarasotacountyschools.net). Please note: This application is intended only for families wishing to have their child attend a school other than their assigned district school. Applications for new student registration and existing student re-registration for the 2023-2024 school year will open in April. If your child is already attending a school utilizing School Choice/COE and they wish to continue attending the same school, you will not need to fill out another School Choice/COE application. Educational choice options – such as charter schools, magnet schools, or magnet programs – also do not require the completion of a School Choice/COE application. Families interested in these district School Choice options should directly contact the school or program. Parents and guardians whose children receive their choice school through the School Choice/COE process will be responsible for providing transportation to and from school. Any additional questions may be directed to the Office of Accountability and Choice by visiting www.sarasotacountyschools.net/schoolchoice. 

[New Hire]  John L. Clark PhD Joins Botany Staff at Selby Gardens

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens recently welcomed Dr. John L. Clark to its staff as a full-time research botanist. Affiliated with Selby Gardens as a research associate since 2009, Clark has spent his professional career discovering and documenting plant diversity. His work concentrates on the plant family Gesneriaceae, or gesneriads, an important focus of Selby Gardens’ botanical research and a notable component of its living plant collection. An evolutionary biologist as well as a botanist, Clark studies plant systematics, evolution, and biodiversity, focusing on the identification, classification, phylogeny, and taxonomy of neotropical gesneriads. Gesneriads serve as scientific models for understanding broad patterns in the evolution, pollination, and diversification of plants. About a third of gesneriads are epiphytes (a type of plant that grows on another plant without harming it), and Clark’s expertise will advance Selby Gardens’ research mission. The Gardens’ Downtown Sarasota campus is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the display and study of epiphytic orchids, bromeliads, gesneriads, ferns, and other tropical plants. Since the late 1980s, Clark has spent extensive time exploring South and Central America and the Caribbean to research its flora, including six years as a resident botanist in Ecuador. He has published more than 150 species names and collected more than 17,000 plant specimens, including the discovery of hundreds of species of plants. As a research associate for Selby Gardens prior to his full-time hiring, Clark collaborated with staff scientists and added significantly to the Gardens’ collections. He brings an exceptional body of photography and additional plant specimens to Selby Gardens that will further enhance its research collection. Clark came to Selby Gardens from The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where he was the Aldo Leopold Distinguished Teaching Chair in the science department. There he directed annual research expeditions to Ecuador and Cuba, where students and faculty explored remote regions to document and study plant biodiversity. Collections from those expeditions yielded new species to science and species thought to be extinct. Clark’s earlier career was at The University of Alabama, where he was curator of the herbarium and associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Clark continues to serve as a research associate with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Clark earned his doctorate in biology from The George Washington University and his bachelor’s degree in forest biology from the University of Vermont. His interest in gesneriads was sparked while serving as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Ecuador, where he lived from 1994 to 1998 and worked as a field botanist with the National Herbarium of Ecuador and the Jatun Sacha Foundation. Clark lived in Ecuador again in 2002 as a Fulbright scholar, and he continues to return annually while directing student-run programs in ecology and systematics. 

Pictured: Dr. John L. Clark. Courtesy of Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: FST - A Place in the Sun - A Tribute to Stevie Wonder , November 16 – April 16, Varied

A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder, will begin playing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret on November 16, 2022. The new music revue celebrates the legendary musician whose catalogue spans six decades and multiple musical genres, taking audiences through the beloved songbook of musical pioneer, Stevie Wonder. Created by Jason Cannon, Richard Hopkins, and Sarah Durham, this all-new Cabaret features such timeless hits as “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” “Isn’t She Lovely?,” and “Superstition.” Tickets are now on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Walking Tours at The Ringling's Arboretum Available Now Through May 2023 , November 26 – May 29, 12:00 PM

This walking tour led by volunteer guides will introduce you to interesting botanical specimens on the estate while providing a historic overview of the development of the estate. The Ringling Arboretum has been accredited at Level II through ArbNet and there are over 2350 trees within the arboretum representing native, exotic, historical, and culturally significant trees. Garden Tours are available Saturdays, Sundays, and Mondays and take place entirely outdoors. It is 90 minutes in length and covers approximately 1 mile. We encourage visitors to bring bottled water, and wear appropriate footwear, preferably closed-toe, sunblock, and hats. There will be a maximum of 10 participants per tour. Tours are subject to weather conditions. Please check it at the Visitors Pavilion prior to your tour. Tickets will be available 30 days prior to each tour.

[SOON]  THEATER: Urbanite Theatre: Birds of North America , January 6 – February 12, Varied

"Birds of North America" runs January 6th-February 12th, 2023 at Urbanite Theatre. As birders, John and his daughter Caitlyn adore spending tender autumn days attempting to catch glimpses of elusive birds. But as seasons, the climate, and global politics change, the two find their connection as rare as a red-headed Woodpecker.  In a lyrical and endearing family portrait, Birds of North America unfolds in delicate, detailed layers like the scattered leaves of each passing year. For tickets and information contact Ph. (941) 321-1397, Email info@urbanitetheatre.com, Website www.urbanitetheatre.com

Urbanite Theatre , 1487 2nd Street Sarasota FL, 34236

[SOON]  GALLERY: Contemporary Realism First Friday Gallery Walk at the Dabbert Gallery , January 6 – January 31, 6 to 9 p.m.

Contemporary Realism First Friday Gallery Walk at the Dabbert Gallery. From 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 6, the Dabbert Gallery will host the First Friday Gallery Walk through its new contemporary realism exhibit. The exhibit runs through Jan. 31. For more information, visit dabbertgallery.com. Dabbet Gallery, 46 S. Palm Ave., Sarasota.

[SOON]  THEATER: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Ken Ludwigs The Three Musketeers , January 11 – March 26, Varied

Adapted from the novel by Alexandre Dumas. Directed by Peter Amster. Harrowing adventure, bravery, and friendship take center stage in Ken Ludwig's THE THREE MUSKETEERS, a thrilling adaptation of the popular novel by Alexandre Dumas. One of the world’s most enduring comedies, this classic tells the tale of a daring young man who finds himself in the company of the world’s greatest swordsmen, as well as some of the world’s most dangerous men and women. Directed by Peter Amster, who most recently directed Asolo Rep’s smash hit Murder on the Orient Express in 2020, this play promises to be a fast-paced, witty, swashbuckling good time. All for one, and one for all! 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO Bricks at the Bishop , January 11 – March 18, During museum hours

Get inspired to create your own ‘towers of tomorrow’ with over 200,000 loose LEGO® bricks available in hands-on construction areas. Young and old will be limited only by their imagination as they add their creations to a steadily rising futuristic LEGO® metropolis inside the exhibition. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: She Engineers at the Bishop , January 24 – July 30, During museum hours

SHE ENGINEERS is a bilingual (English and Spanish) poster exhibition highlighting eight women in various engineering fields. In their own words, the women share their passion and what inspired them to become engineers. If we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Elements by Cheryl Moody to be Featured at Art Uptown Gallery in February , January 27 – February 23

From January 27, 2023 to February 23, Art Uptown Gallery will exhibit Elements by Cheryl Moody. Cheryl loves being outdoors and painting subjects in oils that spark her interest, whether it's the way light filters through leaves, reflects on water, creates patterns of color in the landscape, or how palm fronds twist in the wind. Cheryl enjoys hearing from people saying they could “ feel the wind blowing” or “smell the salt air,” and knowing that they have been transported to her special places. Meet the artist at the gallery on Saturday, January 28 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and at the monthly First Friday, 6 p.m. public reception on February 3. Art Uptown Gallery welcomes patrons and friends at 1367 Main Street daily where the diverse art works of regional, award-winning artists are exhibited. Telephone 941-955-5409 or visit www.artuptown.com for hours and further information.

[SOON]  THEATER: Network at Florida Studio Theatre , January 25 – March 19, Various times

Florida Studio Theatre (FST) is proud to present Network, a fast-paced drama following the downward spiral of Howard Beale, a longtime news anchor who has worked at a television network, UBS, for 25 years. When Beale learns that he is being fired for poor ratings and low viewership, he unravels live on air during his final broadcast. As a result, his show’s ratings soar, and Howard becomes the biggest thing on television. Seeing Howard as a new populist prophet, UBS decides to leverage Howard’s newfound popularity to boost its bottom line. Network begins playing January 25, 2023, in FST’s Gompertz Theatre. Single tickets to Network range from $25-39. Subscriptions and single tickets are on sale at FloridaStudioTheatre.org or at 941.366.9000.

[SOON]  THEATER: Asolo Repertory Theatre: Silent Sky , January 19 – March 5, Varied

At the turn of the 20th century, years before women had the right to vote, one woman’s breakthrough changed our perception of the stars. Full of wonder, humor, and heart, SILENT SKY is the remarkable true story of Henrietta Leavitt, one of the pioneering women astronomers working at Harvard Observatory in the early 1900s. You will be enthralled by the story of this extraordinary woman who took on the astronomy establishment in order to discover the mysteries embedded in the sky. Henrietta transcended the odds while navigating love, family, and the universe, going on to make a world-altering advancement to the field of astronomy that forever changed our view of the cosmos.  Written by one of today’s leading playwrights, Lauren Gunderson, this mesmerizing drama is directed by Seema Sueko, who recently brought this work to life at Washington D.C.’s Ford’s Theatre. 

Asolo Repertory Theatre

[SOON]  PERFORMANCE: The Players Centre: Always... Patsy Cline , February 2 – February 12, Varied

Always… Patsy Cline created and originally directed by Ted Swindley
Always…Patsy Cline is more than a tribute to the legendary country singer who died tragically at age 30 in a plane crash in 1963. The show is based on a true story about Cline’s friendship with a fan from Houston named Louise Seger, who befriended the star in a Texas honky-tonk in 1961, and continued a correspondence with Cline until her death. The musical play, complete with down home country humor, true emotion and even some audience participation, includes many of Patsy’s unforgettable hits such as Crazy, I Fall to Pieces, Sweet Dreams and Walking After Midnight – 27 songs in all. Feb 2-12, 2023. For tickets visit theplayers.org, Ph. 941-365-2494, email BoxOffice@ThePlayers.org

The Players Centre For Performing Arts, Performance Venue & Box Office The Crossings at Siesta Key 3501 South Tamiami Trail, Suite 1130 Sarasota, FL 34239

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Art Center Sarasota: Same Source , February 2 – March 11

The Same Source exhibit by Luca Molnar uses various media to explore the connection between historical figures and personal mythologies. The exhibit highlights the connection between private life, domestic spaces and memory. On Thursday, Feb. 16, Molnar will participate in an artist talk via Zoom from 5:30 to 7 p.m. The exhibit runs from Feb. 2 to March 11. To learn more, visit artsarasota.org or call 941-365-2032. Art Center Sarasota, 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Golf Tournament Raises Funds for Domestic and Sexual Violence Survivors , January 16 – February 7, 11:00 AM

Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center (SPARCC) is hosting its annual golf tournament, Scramble for SPARCC, at the Laurel Oak Country Club on Monday, January 16, 2023. With the support of sponsors, community donations and golfers, this tournament raises funds to help provide life-saving, free and confidential programs and services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. Entry fee is $185.00 per person and includes green fees, individual carts, happy hour light bites, beverages (cash bar available) and player awards. Registration opens at 11:00 AM with a shotgun start at 12:30 PM to kick off the 18-hole scramble. In addition to the golf tournament, there is also a closet to the pin contest, closest to the line contest, golf ball launcher, 50/50 chance drawing, and awards celebration. Co-Chairs for this event are Sandy Fulkerson and Bonnie VanOverbeke.

[SOON]  FOOD: The Big Game at Geckos , February 12

Join Geckos Grill and Pubs, your #BestSportsBar for the Big Game and the most super seat outside of Glendale! Seating is limited so reserve today with a $25 per person deposit. Reserved guests will receive a $25 GC to use on Big Game day (must be present 15 minutes before kick-off). Giveaways | Gecko’s special football menu & new cocktail menu | Small batch spirits + our usual huge variety of craft beer & award-winning Happy Hours! Ask your friendly server or barkeep for more details and reserve today! www.GeckosGrill.com

SRQ Media Group

SRQ DAILY is produced by SRQ | The Magazine. Note: The views and opinions expressed in the Saturday Perspectives Edition and in the Letters department of SRQ DAILY are those of the author(s) and do not imply endorsement by SRQ Media. Senior Editor Jacob Ogles edits the Saturday Perspective Edition, Letters and Guest Contributor columns.In the CocoTele department, SRQ DAILY is providing excerpts from news releases as a public service. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by SRQ DAILY. The views expressed by individuals are their own and their appearance in this section does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. For rates on SRQ DAILY banner advertising and sponsored content opportunities, please contact Ashley Ryan Cannon at 941-365-7702 x211 or via email

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