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SRQ DAILY May 30, 2023

Tuesday Dining and Food Edition

Tuesday Dining and Food Edition

"We make our baguettes the French way, and we import flour from France that does not have added sugar, preservatives and food coloring so they are super authentic."

- Charly Groovin, Co-ownder of So French Cafe

[The Dish]  So French Cafe Gives Sarasota a Pocketful of Paris
Laura Paquette, laura.paquette@srqme.com

Nestled into a shopping center on Lockwood Ridge Road, So French Cafe provides a tranquil oasis for guests to enjoy classic French bites. But under its dim lights on select evenings, the space transforms into a dance restaurant, a popular concept across Europe.

Owners Charly and Naty Groovin are no strangers to the business, having owned and operated dance restaurants, in which patrons enjoy drinks and a meal but also have the opportunity to twirl around a dedicated dance floor, in Paris for 30 years. After relocating to Sarasota and organizing events at various local establishments, they opened So French Cafe at the start of this year, serving up tasty and healthy delights.

Proud of France’s culinary traditions, the couple follows them in their cooking. “We make our baguettes the French way,” says Charly, “and we import flour from France that doesn’t have added sugar, preservatives and food coloring so they’re super authentic.” A star ingredient in the cafe’s sandwiches, the baguettes have a crispy exterior encasing a soft and delightful bread and a warm, intoxicating smell. For diners looking to try crepes, one of France’s most iconic dishes, the cafe doesn’t disappoint. In addition to the usual roundup of sweet crepes, often made with fruit, chocolate or nuts, the menu features savory crepes. While in the United States, many restaurants use the same egg, milk and flour-based batter for the crepe shell, So French Cafe offers a buckwheat option, the go-to batter for savory crepes back in France, encouraging guests to sample this exciting flavor. The gluten-free buckwheat flour has a charcoal color and robust taste that pairs well with the fillings. Charly recommends the Complete Ham Crepe, with Swiss cheese and a sunnyside-up egg served on buckwheat flour alongside an arugula salad with cherry tomatoes. On dance nights, Naty, dubbed the Crepe DJ, closes up shop to keep the dance floor cool without heat from cooking the crepes, but other bites are still available.

The eatery’s coffee complements every dining experience, from late-night dancing to late-morning study sessions over croissants. The Nutella Latte has become a bestseller and showcases the European knack for creating rich, multi-dimensional beverages that offer a pleasant hint of sweetness. “When guests come in with a purse from a designer like Chanel, Naty tops their drink with a stencil of the brand’s logo as a special surprise,” Charly adds.

While patrons can spot some French sensibilities, like the imported macarons, with a quick glance, others are hidden in plain sight. Charly and Naty have carried the French mindset of sustainability into their business, using compostable plates to decrease waste. Guests who attend designated dance nights have the opportunity to see the cafe, and its patrons, in full swing. The couple pushes the tables and chairs to the side and offers a Latin dance class (these styles have taken over Europe), then a social dance session. Food and wine flow late into the night like the dancers themselves. With the scent of baguettes lingering in the air and the glow of a streetlamp lighting the dance floor, you’ll be transported to the streets of Paris, swaying under the moonlight along the Seine.

So French Cafe, 6280 North Lockwood Ridge Rd., Sarasota, sofrenchcafe.com. 

Pictured: A Complete Ham Crepe with Swiss Cheese and a Sunnyside Up Egg at So French Cafe. Photo by Naty Groovin.

[The Dish]  The Enchanted Bazaar

Want to meet a real unicorn? Have your photo with fairies? Hang out with a mermaid? Come to The Enchanted Bazaar Saturday, June 3 from 10-3pm. The courtyard will be transformed to a magical wonderland and open to all ages. Guests can also have their face painted, make a fairy door, or get fairy hair (for a fee). Enjoy live music by Sabrina, lunch at Hamlet’s Eatery (complete with magical specials), and browse the 40 local creators and curators inside The Bazaar.

The Bazaar on Apricot and Lime, 821 Apricot Ave in Sarasota, www.bazaaronapricotandlime.com, 941-445-1938. 

[Arts & Entertainment]  Selby Gardens Botanist Named Smithsonian Research Associate

Dr. John L. Clark, a research botanist at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, has been reappointed as a Research Associate in the Department of Botany at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History (NMNH). Clark’s appointment lasts for three years, until May 2026. It continues an affiliation he has had with the Smithsonian since 2005. Specifically, the academic affiliation with the Smithsonian gives Clark personal access to the vast collections in the NMNH’s Department of Botany. The department’s herbarium, or collection of dried and preserved plants, currently holds 5 million specimens, making it one of the world’s 10 largest. The Research Associate position also will facilitate Clark’s ongoing collaborative research with botanists around the country and the world. He is particularly excited about several projects he is working on with Dr. Larry Skog, research botanist emeritus at NMNH and Clark’s advisor when he pursued his PhD at George Washington University. Clark’s sponsor for the new three-year Smithsonian appointment is Paul Peterson, a current research botanist and curator of botany at NMNH. Clark has been affiliated with Selby Gardens through a research partnership since 2009. He joined the staff full-time in January 2023. Since then, he has conducted plant research expeditions to Dominican Republic and Ecuador. Clark specializes in the plant family Gesneriaceae, flowering plants that are distributed throughout the world’s tropical forests. Gesneriads are an important part of Selby Gardens’ botanical research and a notable component of its living plant collection. About a third of gesneriads are epiphytic, meaning they grow on other plants without harming them. Selby Gardens is the only botanical garden in the world dedicated to the study and display of epiphytes. Selby Gardens is also a Smithsonian Affiliate, one of more than 200 museums and cultural institutions around the country that have engaged in a long-term partnership with the Smithsonian to promote “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” by creating experiences that educate and inspire. 

[Fundraising Event]  Tickets for Babcock Ranch Foundation Inaugural Nashville Night Music Festival on Sale June 5

The Babcock Ranch Foundation is releasing discounted early-bird tickets for Nashville Night, its inaugural musical festival and fundraiser featuring Music City’s brightest stars. Limited tickets for the Nov. 18 concert in Babcock Ranch’s downtown area of Founder’s Square are $25 and are on sale to the general public June 5. Tickets can be purchased at www.babcockranchfoundation.org. Nashville Night sponsorships are also available, and include VIP seating, complimentary food and beverage and more. The music festival includes blues, rock and country performances by headliner singer-songwriter Deidre Thornell and starring artists Dave Isaacs, Meg Williams and Travis Bowlin. Seating on the event lawn overlooking Lake Babcock opens at 3 p.m. and guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Music begins at 4 p.m. and continues until 9 p.m. with food and beverages served by crowd favorite food trucks, as well as the town’s restaurants: Square Scoops, Slater’s Goods & Provisions, and The Lake House Kitchen & Bar.  The Babcock Ranch Foundation also supports the Harry Chapin Food Bank, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Sun Coast, Babcock Schools, Boys & Girls Club of Lee County, Valerie’s House which helps children and families work though the loss of a loved one and the Heights Foundation’s enhanced School Success program. For more information about the Babcock Ranch Foundation, Nashville Night sponsorships or to donate, visit www.babcockranchfoundation.org or call 239-449-2406. For more information about Southwest Florida’s new hometown, located just northeast of Fort Myers off Babcock Ranch Road/State Road 31, visit the Woodlea Hall Discovery Center at 42850 Crescent Loop in Babcock Ranch, call 877-709-6620, or visit www.BabcockRanch.com.


[Recognition]  SMH-Venice Certified in Advanced Hip and Knee Replacement Surgery

Sarasota Memorial Hospital-Venice is pleased to announce that it has received Advanced Hip & Knee Replacement Certification from DNV, an international healthcare quality and accrediting organization. The certification recognizes excellence in joint replacement surgery and the full spectrum of diagnostics, surgical services and therapies related to hip and knee care. Sarasota Memorial’s flagship Sarasota campus has long been recognized for advanced hip and knee replacement. Months before opening the new hospital in late 2021, the Venice team completed all the steps necessary to emulate the program and create a clinical environment to support safe, high-quality care. To maintain DNV Advanced Hip & Knee Replacement Certification, hospitals undergo regular surveys and audits to validate their position as a leader in joint replacement surgery and demonstrate compliance with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Conditions of Participation and adherence to guidelines of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons. The Sarasota County Public Hospital Board approved the funds and resources necessary to open the new hospital in Venice in 2021 as part of the health system’s ongoing commitment to strengthen the quality and accessibility of safe, quality health care on the Suncoast. 

[Feature]  Eye in the Sky
Dylan Campbell, dylan@srqme.com

Eye in the Sky | Producer Roma Downey speaks on her latest film, On a Wing and a Prayer, May/June 2023. 

Read Here!

[SOON]  FOOD: Savor Sarasota , June 1 – June 14, Various times
Mark your calendars for the most delicious time of the year in Sarasota, the 18th annual Visit Sarasota County’s Savor Sarasota. Beginning Thursday, June 1st through Wednesday, June 14th, visitors and residents alike will be able to wine and dine their way around Sarasota area restaurants relishing multi-course meals. Savor Sarasota restaurant week is a two-week dining program that offers artfully crafted prix-fixe menus for both lunch and dinner. Lunch menus feature a two-course menu for $25 per person, and dinner menu features three courses for $40 per person. Many restaurants will also offer menu upgrades and wine and spirit pairings to elevate the experience. Visit https://www.visitsarasota.com/savor-sarasota/restaurants for an up-to-date restaurant list.
[SOON]  FOOD: Geckos Hospitality Group Iron Chef Challenge 2023 , May 15 – June 18, Restaurant Hours

Join the Geckos Hospitality Group family of restaurants to celebrate the culinary creativity of your favorite Geckos Grill and Pub Chefs during the annual Iron Chef Challenge. From May 15th to June 11th and June 12th to 18th each of our six Geckos will participate in a weekly special Iron Chef Menu, with several of our Chefs designing delectable and inventive fare, plus some tried and true favorites with a creative twist. The contest is a weekly competition between Geckos Kitchen Creatives and guests may sample what the GHG kitchen pros have up their Chef Jacket sleeves. Whichever Iron Chef Special Menu is the favorite of our GHG guests for the week wins the Iron Chef title for that week and a cash prize with seven Iron Chefs named after the competition knives have been cleaned and put away in June. There will be a Championship Final the week of June 12-18th, with the winning GHG location being crowned the Iron Chef 2023 Champ. All Geckos Hospitality locations, geckosgrill.com.

[SOON]  FOOD: SIN Nights at Geckos on Hillview , May 12 – August 31, 10 pm to midnight

Enjoy SIN Nights for Geckos Hospitality and Service Industry Colleagues. Join Geckos on Hillview Street in Southside Village and let us serve you late at night after your shift on Friday and Saturday nights. We will keep the light on late for you and offer Geckos food and drink specials just for you from 10-Midnight. Come in wearing your uniform or bring in your schedule and enjoy the camaraderie of friends at Geckos on Hillview. 1900 Hillview Street, Sarasota, www.GeckosGrill.com.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Fresh Fridays , June 2, 7-10 pm
The Downtown Improvement District Fresh Fridays organizers work to jumpstart the summer season with a festive block party full of live music, lawn games, BBQ, and more for its final event of the season. Bay Kings Band will provide live entertainment. Local downtown restaurant, Bricks Smoked Meats, will be cooking up mouthwatering BBQ. Attendees will have the chance to meet and hang out with players from the Sarasota Paradise pre-professional soccer team. Continuing in the spirit of summer, the party will have a gaggle of fun backyard lawn games. Partygoers can participate in friendly competitions of Cornhole, oversized Connect Four, and Jenga. Show up early for signature giveaways and come hungry to taste a variety of light bites and beverages from local downtown hospitality partners, including the Art Ovation Hotel and Azul Steak and Sushi Lounge. Upcoming dining destination Beso will have a specialty sangria bar for attendees to enjoy. The event will take place rain or shine back on Palm Avenue. Parking will be available at Palm Avenue and State Street parking garages. Palm Avenue, Sarasota.
[SOON]  GALLERY: Small Works Show , May 27 – June 30, Gallery hours
The artists at Art Uptown Gallery will present Small Works Show, showcasing small framed pieces of their original art. Meet the artists at the First Friday public reception on June 2 from 6-9 p.m. All of our award-winning artists are local, full-time residents of Sarasota. The exhibit opens on Saturday, May 27 and runs through Friday, June 30. Art Uptown Gallery welcomes patrons and friends at 1367 Main Street where the diverse work of regional award-winning artists is exhibited. artuptown.com.
[SOON]  THEATER: Shear Madness , May 31 – July 16, Various times

There has been a murder in a local hair salon, and it is up to the audience to solve the crime. Everyone is a suspect when the old lady living above Shear Madness salon is mysteriously offed. Join two police officers to piece together the clues behind this strange, scissor-stabbing homicide. Chock full of up-to-the minute spontaneous humor, Shear Madness has slayed the hearts of audiences around the world. Now it is up to Sarasota audiences to outwit the suspects and catch the killer in this interactive comedy whodunit. FST Gompertz Theatre, 1265 First St.
Sarasota, floridastudiotheatre.org.

[SOON]  GALLERY: Identity, Exploring the Human Condition , June 1 – August 5, Gallery hours

The 2023 exhibition season continues with Identity, Exploring the Human Condition, which highlights the diverse talents of artists from across the southeast region of the United States and will be on display in all four gallery spaces. On view from June 1-August 5, the opening reception is Thursday, June 1, 6-8 p.m. The juror is Christy Paris, an art professor and PhD candidate in the College of Education at the University of South Florida. A Juror’s Critique, with Paris, will take place on Tuesday, June 6. Art Center Sarasota is located at 707 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. For information, visit www.artsarasota.org or call 941-365-2032.

[SOON]  MUSEUM: Lorna Bieber, Natural World at The Ringling , May 20 – October 15, Museum hours

The Ringling presents a solo exhibition of works by Lorna Bieber in May that includes two new pieces making their debut in the Keith D. and Linda L. Monda Gallery for Contemporary Art. Her artwork first and foremost encourages us to indulge in the pleasures of looking and discovering anew the details of the visual world. Her artistic practice is grounded in appropriating, recycling, and manipulating imagery. The work reminds us of the image world that inundates our daily existence. Our experience of reality is mediated through a barrage of photographic digital images that supplants our connection to the natural world. Yet, Bieber is less interested in a critique of this condition than she is in offering her work as an antidote, a way to inspire viewers and reconnect with our shared sense of wonder. Included with museum admission. The Ringling Museum, 5401 Bay Shore Rd., Sarasota, ringling.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Laser Light Nights at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature , May 25 – September 2, 7pm and 9pm

Break out the big hair and acid-washed denim because Laser Light Nights are back at The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night from May 25 through September 2, we are rocking out to some of your favorite artists in the Planetarium! A variety of food options and drinks are available for purchase onsite with cash or card. Tickets are $15. The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, 201 10th St W., Bradenton, bishopscience.org.

[SOON]  GRAB BAG: Summer Photo Contest with the Conservation Foundation , April 26 – May 31, Submissions open through midnight May 31st

Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast is delighted to announce the return of their virtual Summer Photo Contest. Entering its fourth year, this annual event invites photographers of all ages and experience levels to share their original work showcasing the natural beauty of the Sunshine State. As in years past, the exhibition will be entirely virtual with website and Facebook displays. Works submitted for this online juried exhibition must have been taken in Florida within the past year. There is also a Youth Perspective category for ages 15 and under. The submission deadline is midnight on May 31. For categories, details, entry rules, and submission forms visit conservationfoundation.com/summerphoto.

[SOON]  SPORTS: Extended Orioles Spring Training , April 28 – June 3, Various times

With the Major League Baseball season now underway, the Orioles’ year-round baseball operations continue in Sarasota with Extended Spring Training. The public is invited to watch Orioles minor league players in action at the Ed Smith Stadium complex in April, May, and June. Baltimore’s farm system is currently rated as the top player development system in baseball, according to Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB Pipeline. Visit orioles.com/sarasota to learn more.

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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