Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe Brings Creative Menu to Burns Court

Good Bite

Pictured: The interior of Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe. Photo Courtesy of Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe.

Next time you’re in the mood for a tasty and homemade meal, stop by Michelle’s Brown Bag Cafe. Owned by Michelle Ettinger, the Brown Bag reopened in a new location in Burns Court this past February.

The Brown Bag has been in business since Ettinger opened it in Bar Harbor, Maine in 2002. “We lived on the island, which is home to Acadia National Park, and there wasn’t a sandwich shop,” she says. “Everyone’s goal when they come to the island is to go into the park, so I opened up Michelle’s Brown Bag, and we were one of the busiest restaurants in Maine because there weren’t any places where you could grab a great fresh sandwich and head into the park.” The eatery maintained its success when she relocated it to Sarasota’s financial district and now the Burns Court area. “The menu has been the same for 22 years because everything sells,” she adds, noting that the only thing she’s changed is the names of the items which now have a signature local flair.

The cafe is beloved for its mouthwatering sandwiches, like the Bird Key, Longboat Brie and Harbor Master. With all-white meat chicken salad, tarragon, lemon, homemade mayonnaise, fresh celery, gorgonzola cheese, sliced Granny Smith apples, sliced tomatoes, sprouts and fresh spring greens, the Bird Key has been the bestselling sandwich for 22 years. Guests also love the Longboat Brie, a ham and brie sandwich with mango chutney. “Opening in Maine originally, I’m a stickler for quality Maine lobster. I stay true to the Maine lobster, and it comes in fresh two days a week. It’s fresh-picked lobster meat and our homemade dill mayonnaise. We put a few capers in there and serve it on a locally made baguette from St. Armands Bakery. It has lettuce, tomato and crisp cucumbers,” she says. While most of the sandwiches come with half a dill pickle, the Harbor Master also includes a side. All the sides are homemade, but the house chips are a classic favorite. The Brown Bag sources its baked goods from St. Armands Bakery and strives to use local produce whenever possible.

The cafe also carries all-day breakfasts like omelets and sandwiches, which Ettinger says is unique for a sandwich shop. “If you’re going to the beach, you can come in and get your breakfast sandwich and lunch at 9am,” she adds. With an eye on opening future locations on Siesta Key and Longboat Key, Ettinger is poised to grow her business. When it comes to delicious sandwiches, Michelle’s Brown Bag Cafe has got it in the bag.

Michelle’s Brown Bag Cafe, 630 S. Orange Ave., Sarasota, 941-365-5858, michellesbrownbagcafe.com.

Pictured: The interior of Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe. Photo Courtesy of Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe.

Michelle's Brown Bag Cafe

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