Thursday, January 11, 2018

JANUARY 14, 2018



What had been rumored for months came true Tuesday as up and coming carrier, Allegiant Air announced its move to Sarasota.  With over 50 destinations, SRQ is now a bigger player in the region.

Unfortunately with good news comes bad...Elite Air which was to begin non-stop to Pittsburgh in February abruptly cancelled their plans.  No reason was given, but one can assume they were priced out of our market.

Monday marks what  would have been the 89th birthday of Martin Luther King.  This is one of the rare times the celebration of King falls on his actual birthday and  is being commemorated with several events in Sarasota.

Sponsored by Temple Emanu-El and the Newtown MLK committee, a 7:30 breakfast at Robert Taylor Community Center kicks off the day.  Following the breakfast will be a Unity Walk emblematic of the freedom marches of the 1960's.  In the evening Westcoast Black Theatre is presenting a program of music  with Nate Jacobs and several cast members performing along with what should be, a stirring speech from Reverend Charles Mackenzie.  

Tickets for the breakfast event will be available for $20 the Robert Taylor Community Center.  The evening performance still has limited seating available. .  Call 941-366-1505 for additional information.

If you are unable to participate in these and other celebrations around Sarasota, then at least take a few minutes to reflect on King's contributions to our country.  There has never been anyone like him in our lifetime.

Let the performances begin!!!  We are well into our annual social and entertainment season, and if you want to attend theatre or a gala, you can do so almost every night.

Only a few more days to see ONCE, but now playing is  well reviewed drama HEISENBERG.  Taking place in  a London train station, two strangers connect in the oddest way, and form a relationship that is both funny and touching.  A young woman plants a kiss on an older mans neck and with that the evening becomes a comical sparring match between the two.

Playing in the Keating Theatre this show runs through March 4, but will surely be extended.  But don't wait for that since most performances sell out this time of year.  For an easy way to order tickets click here or call 941-366-9000.

There was a time our Performing Arts Hall was somewhat of a white elephant, but no more!!  VAN WEZEL has a packed schedule of performers along with familiar Broadway musicals beginning now and culminating early May. 

Tomorrow  night brings back the legendary 5th Dimension and the
month concludes with Tony winner Cabaret.  Jackson Browne  will be here as will Michael Feinstein, Paul Anka and Renee Fleming.  For a complete listing of events click here. You can call the box office at 941-953-3368.
Or you can purchase tickets at Van Wezel and while there pick up a copy of their brochure.

With so many new and unusual restaurants now open, or about to open,  it is easy to forget Captain Brian's Seafood and Market....DON'T!!!!  Located 8421 North on the Trail,  Brian's is home to some of the best seafood in town, and at reasonable prices.   Where else in town can you get fresh catch seafood, an eye popping salad bar along with a side for under $25? And you can get a comparable meal at lunch for under $16.  No wonder there's a line this time of year.

I have no idea how long Brian's has been open,  throughout the years,  but very little has changed other than location from one end of strip mall to the other end.   While you're there take a look at their open market.  Though stone crabs are not plentiful this year, on most days you will find them at Captain Brian's.

One final note,  Brian is oneof a handful of restaurants offering round tables for large groups.  If party is HUGE, Brian can accommodate you.  Click here to view both menus as well as daily specials

A word of caution to those who have been to this restaurant; they do not take reservations.  So be prepared to wait or go early when less crowded.

Many of you will be reading this well after Monday's MLK events, but you still have time to honor and learn more about Dr. King.

  THE MOUNTAINTOP is running now  at Westcoast Black Theatre.  After giving his now famous Memphis speech, Dr, King returns to his hotel room to reflect on the speech and his time in Memphis. Ordering room service, a maid appears with coffee and a pack of cigarettes.  Together they share visions of what life is really about.  To order tickets click here or call 941-366-1505.

JIM'S RANT.....Several years ago Southwest's purchase of Air-Tran eliminated non-stop Baltimore flights from SRQ.  The Orioles draw considerably more fans for spring training games than the Pirates, yet now  non-stop service to that city, and none to Baltimore. Don't you think its time to correct this imbalance???

JIM KNOWS SARASOTA has been on hiatus for a few weeks due to computer issues.  I missed the opportunity of wishing all my readers

See you next week.....JIM.....

Saturday, December 16, 2017

DECEMBER 16 2017

NOTE:  Due to Computer Issues, the 12/9 JIM KNOWS SARASOTA has been updated.  I will return with a new edition next week.


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

DECEMBER 9, 2017


Classic Cuban Auto


This eight day Jewish Celebration  begins at sundown Tuesday and ends the evening of December 20.  Lots of potato latkes and dreidel spinning.

DECEMBER is  without a doubt the most wonderful time to be in Sarasota.  So many venues with so much family and adult entertainment.......

Playing now at Manatee Performing Arts Center  is classic musical, ANNIE.   Running through December 30, I strongly recommend.

Recently saw the cast of talented youngsters perform a few scenes from this show, and they were terrific.   In fact, the entire cast is excellent,  but the kids brought so much talent and showmanship to the performance we were begging for more.  Don't beg, but click here to order tickets for the remaining performances. 

Box-office number is 941-748-5857.  See you there this week.

What may well be one of their  best opening  musicals ever, EVITA, playing at ASOLO rep is drawing standing ovations at all performances.  I was right there with the sold out matinee crowd last Sunday, and if you want to see this before closing later this month, I suggest you do so now.  Very few tickets remain for the coming performances. Click here to order on line, but I suggest you call box office at 941-351-8000.

 The acting, singing, staging, lighting, orchestrations...brought a little piece of  Broadway to Sarasota.  Though some may disagree with the new direction chosen by director, choreographer Josh Rhodes, you will be caught up in Eva Peron's story from birth to her untimely early death.

Now playing to sold-out crowds as well, is FST'S BLUE SUEDE SHOES.  This Goldstein Cabaret production takes you back to an era of fabulous music. It was the 50's when Rock N' Roll took over the music charts.  From rhythm and blues, country western, swing and do-wop came the sound that would change pop music forever

And along with sound came talent for the ages.  From the so-called father of Rock N'Roll, Chuck Berry, to Buddy Holley to The King himself, Elvis Presley, the revue celebrates their music along with many memorable hits including Rock Around The clock, Mustang Sally,  I Feel Good, Love Me Tender,  In The Ghetto and much, much more.    To order tickets for Cabaret and Mainstage click here.

This past week had dinner at one of our favorite Sarasota restaurants,  The Rosemary.  In their few short years of existence,  The Rosemary has become not only one of Sarasota's before theatre dining destinations, but one of our best. Their new menu is over the top, as is presentation, service and taste.  Our party had a late dinner, but several tables remained occupied. 

Sure to be busy this holiday season call 941-955-7600.  And when you call, ask to be put on the email list.  Very creative.

Now that we're nearing a break from favorite television programming, NETFLIX is streaming season 2 of The CROWN.  A new era begins for Queen Elizabeth as she struggles to navigate the changing world around her while preserving both the monarchy and her marriage.

THE PERLMAN MUSIC PROGRAM/SUNCOAST  kicks off  its 14th annual season December 20 with an event under the stars on the campus of South Florida University. Featuring PMP students ages 12-20 from around the world;  this  marks the 10th year of this classical showcase of young talent under the watchful eyes of Itzhak and Toby Perlman.  Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 night of performance.  There will be much more information next week, but for now Click here to purchase tickets for this event.

Most events are free.  You can call 941-955-4942 for additional information.

JIM'S RANT.....It didn't come a day too soon, but the city of Sarasota has decided to cash in on their State St and Palm Avenue parking lots.  Why it took so long is anybodies guess.  And why my long ago proposed  Parking for Charity idea was never considered.  But this promises to be confusing as the first 3 hours in State and Palm garages will remain free.   You pay beginning hour number#4.  So if your a wise shopper and diner you'll be able to save the money and donate to your favorite charity of choice......JIM....See you next week as we get closer to Christmas........

Thursday, November 16, 2017

NOVBEMBER 19, 2017


JIM KNOWS SARASOTA returns early December.

For those of you who did not receive last week's blog you can go to archive to retrieve.  Thanks for you reading and have a great holiday and start to the Holiday season!!!!


Saturday, November 11, 2017

NOVEMBER 12, 2017


Broadway favorite, ONCE,  kicked off  Florida StudioTheatre's 2017-18 Winter Stage season this  week.  Winner of 8 Tonys in 2012 as well an Oscar for best song in an earlier 2007 movie; this one promises to be must-see until closing in January. And positive reviews only add to the demand.

A charming tale of an Irish street musician who is about to give up his dreams when an unlikely connection forces him to reconsider.   A minimalist set including a bar center stage where you can come up to buy a drink before and at intermission. 
Season tickets are still available for 4 shows at $59.    To get on line access please click here. You can also call 941-366-9000.

A few miles north on The Trail you can attend still another Broadway Classic, as EVITA opens the Asolo Rep season this Saturday.  Winner of 8 Tony Awards in 1979, this one is ageless.   Evita has been called the ultimate Webber and Rice musical.

Eva Peron used her charisma and beauty to rise from poverty to become first lady of Argentina at the age of 27.    That she died at so young an age makes her story and this musical adaption of it, that much more dynamic.

Who can forget Madonna in the movie version, along with Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas as Che.  You can still catch this On Demand, as I did last week.  It's ageless!!!!  Tickets are reasonably priced for most performances.  Their box office is now open but you can be your own box office at home by clicking here.

Those of you who are wondering about the Wallenda Family's whereabouts; they are alive and well in New York.  Appearing in Big Apple Circus, now through January 7, Nick and family close the second act with their seven-person-high-wire-pyramid.

The Wallenda fall during a performance at  Circus Sarasota this February is still fresh in my mind, as is Nik's performance a few days later.   According to the NY Times review "...too nerve racking to watch, even with an air mattress that could sleep 90 inflated below."

If you're planning a trip to NY soon then you can call 212-257-2300 or click here for tickets.  

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away, and I know many of you have already
started preparing for that holiday and the ones that follow.  What better way to get an early jump on Christmas/Chanukah shopping than visiting a Craft Show these next 2 weekends. 

If you're reading this on Sunday, then you have a few more hours for the 29th annual St. Armands Art Craft Festival.

And if you missed this one, this coming weekend will provide another opportunity.  The 5th annual Sarasota Fine Art Festival runs November 18-19 at the corner of Gulf Stream Ave, and Main St.  If you go Saturday before 1:00pm, you can take in the Farmer's Market as well.

Debbie and Mark  return this week with a review of recently opened Speaks Clam House in Lakewood Ranch.  They write..."Only open a few weeks they are already on wait at 7:30.     Food is Italian style with heavy emphasis on seafood.  Also available are meat and pasta dishes.  Entrees are served with two side, and along with salad , plenty to eat.

We ordered Fish N' Chips and  grilled swordfish.  Both were reasonably priced and delicious!  Their happy hour features name vodka for $5.  We will be back to this very good addition to the neighborhood."

For those of you reading on Longboat or west of 75,  SPEAKS plans to open its second location on Presidents Blvd.  next month.

As Speaks opens, two University corridor favorites have closed.   Square One Burgers and Daily Eats are no longer.    

For those of you who do not subscribe to Herald Tribune anymore, you have missed this news: their Hurricane Recovery Expo is Saturday Nov18, 10-3.  Located at Sarasota Main Plaza, adjacent to Hollywood 20.  Panel discussions, builders, preparation vendors,  storm recovery experts and more.  Admission is free!!!!

JIM'S RANT.......Am I the only one who feels this way, or is Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach  Dirk Kotter always sad?  Even when winning, which is rare this season, he NEVER smiles.  No wonder a team that showed so much promise in 2016, stinks up the place in 2017.....and what about my woeful Bears?  Go Ravens....How many days to Spring Training???....JIM....see you next week, then its off for a few........


Saturday, November 4, 2017

NOVEMBER 5, 2017


Waited a few weeks before sampling the store that has Sarasota buzzing:  LUCKY'S MARKET!!!
Located Tamiami Trail and Siesta Drive at the foot of Westfield-Siesta it is well worth the trip.

Though similar to better known Whole Foods and  Fresh Market, Lucky's brings a new approach to warehouse shopping. 
Sure Sprouts or Publix has comparable items available as do the aforementioned, but simply stated, Lucky's is more fun.  What better way to shop than with a draft beer in one hand and cart in other.  Only in America.

Their produce is organic and the meats are smoked while the sushi is rolled right before your eyes.  If you like chicken or tuna salad, they prepare it while you watch.  And their turkey is real, not processed, as sold by most competitors.  Well worth the price!!  NOW, if they could only get all those shoppers to visit the Mall!!!

Had lunch this past week with Marlene Meyer at recently opened ACROPOLIS  on Cattleman in Benderson shopping center.   She writes, " The restaurant has a Greek feel with white and blue interior.  It is large, sleek, and open; however,  we took advantage of a beautiful day and ate outside.

To begin, the bread (although not pita as described) with tzatzki sauce was delicious.  Our Lentil soup was well prepared, as was their Horiatki Salad. For those of you unfamiliar with this salad, it is Greek without the lettuce." Go ahead and click here to view their entire menu.  

We had few complaints about meal, but both pick Appolonia and Blu Kouzina for Greek food over this place.

A word of caution, most evenings there is belly dancing, plate breaking, napkin throwing,  and loud live music.

By now, most of you have heard about the Ringling Library Association TOWN HALL lecture series.  The 2018 edition will be their 38th year of presenting outstanding speakers to the community.

This year's list reads like a who's who of news and decision makers.  Leading off on Monday January 22 is former Presidential advisor and CIA director, John Brennan.  I am not privy to his lecture, but I will be eagerly awaiting the Q and A session.  John Meecham, who appears regularly on NBC is the second speaker, and he too should have a lively Q and A.  

Immediately following the lecture, lunch is available with speaker in the Grand Foyer of the Van Wezel.    Best to  order by phone  at 941-309-5100.  Hope to see you there in January.

For those of you who have been to CUBA, or are planning a trip there in the near future you will find Nelson DeMille's new thriller, THE CUBAN AFFAIR a quick and entertaining read.   

The tale begins in Key West and involves a charter boat owner with his cranky partner captain, a Cuban-American female friend, and a lawyer up to no good.  They head to a fishing tournament in Cuba, and while there search for a hidden cache of money.   If you're looking for fast paced entertainment and an escape from the recent headlines you've come to the right place. 

It was not a surprise, but disappointment,  when Anu Tali announced she is stepping down as  Music Director of Sarasota Orchestra at conclusion of 2018/19 season.   She has brought an international spotlight to our community, and for that we're grateful.  

Tali returns the weekend of 11/10-12 with this season's first Masterworks concert. 
This opening concert features works of two great masters, Gustav Mahler and Antonin Dvorak.  Included in the program is Mahler's always stirring Fifth Symphony, and  guest soloist Adolfo Arenas  performing during Dvorak's beautiful and expressive Cello Concerto.

Tickets for these performances at Van Wezel are available. for both evenings as well as Sunday afternoon.  To order tickets on line, you can click here.

Tickets start at $33; an exceptional value for this program.  You can also call 941-953-3434. 

We have a Federal Holiday at the end of this week.  Since 1938, our  official holiday honoring persons who served in the military is celebrated on November 11.  Since that day is Saturday, we are observing on Friday.   We are already being bombarded with SALES!!!

JIM'S RANT.....For years, I've been an avid viewer of local news; especially during hurricane season when they scare me to death!!  But lately, Ive grown weary of the endless commercial breaks.  When I was in broadcasting, breaks were limited to 3, maybe 4 products AND product protection.  No more.  The other night Toyota was a sponsor of newscast, and after a break of 4 different auto manufactures, not one spot for Toyota.  I know commercials are what drive profits, but does anyone have empathy for the viewer???..........Once again, thanks for reading.  See you next week......JIM


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

OCTOBER 29, 2017


Many of you read Jim Knows late Saturday or Sunday.  If so , you have something to do this afternoon.  

The  first of several Craft Festivals is open  until 5pm.  Located in a familiar area 5 Points Park & Central Avenue, there is a variety of jewelry, pottery, ceramics, photography, painting, get the idea.  And if you're hungry, food trucks have been added this year.  

In next weeks edition, I'll have advance information on this year's American Craft Council show at Robards arena December 1-3.  

 Sarasota Opera returns this week with an old favorite LA TRAVIATA.  Arguably Verdi's most successful opera, it tells a familiar tale.  A woman of means falling in love with a peasant.  But as you can imagine, through a strange turn of events, she is forced to abandon her lover and return to her family.  Beginning November 3, and running for 7 performances, this promises to be a sell out.  To order tickets visit visit their web site and learn about this opera as well as the outstanding season they have planned.

The food is very familiar; what isn't is TOO JAYS new look.   After a few months of remodeling, their act is as good as ever.  Facing stiff competition from newly opened Connors and Bravo, Too Jays more than holds its own.  For those on the run, they've added a counter for dining as well.

We had dinner there this week and am happy to report the corn beef is delicious along with the bread which doesn't fall apart with the touch.  

Letters, I get Letters....An avid steak eater writes....."Your critique of Connors was much too complimentary. I had dinner there a couple of weeks ago and ordered their special 12 oz. PRIME cut of sirloin steak which I had to send back because they absolutely ruined it.....the replacement was a 12oz strip steak ,which they also destroyed. Needless to say, I'm not going back."

Almost going unnoticed for a few years, Sarasota Contemporary Dance is selling out this season.  Your next chance to see this exceptional group is November 30-December 3 when their annual VOICES will be playing.  
This spectacle is a hallmark of the company's approach to dance.  Full of physicality, thought, and wonder.  Totally creative and original, VOICES is choreographed by members of the troupe as well as guest choreographers from around the country.

Appearing in the intimate Jane B Cook adjacent to the Asolo Theatre.  For tickets please go their web-site. There you will find additional information on performers, etc.

SELBY Botanical Gardens, is an attraction available year round.  With a diverse collection of plants from tropical and subtropical regions around the world, it is a wonderful side trip for  visiting family and friends; especially this time of year when the weather is ideal to be outdoors.

Now featured through is their annual Orchid show.  Though smaller in presentation than some other annual shows, this one is easy on the eyes and also takes you through some outstanding areas of the property.

As you walk along the Gardens you end up at Payne Mansion.  There you will find an exhibition of treasures from their research collections.  These explore the science and splendor of orchids through as witness through the elements of nature, earth, air, fire and water.

The 14th annual Sarasota MEDIEVAL FAIR returns next weekend to the Fairgrounds.  For pure family fun, this unique event features tournaments, food (of course), artisans.  There are $off coupons available all over the place.  Admission is not free, but the parking is.  See you there.

Many of you are poised to attend this year's CINE-WORLD;  for those of you who are not, there is a gem of a movie playing in Bradenton.  Showing only at AMC 20, MARSHALL is based on an early trial in the career of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.  It is also very topical, since the case involves a sexual assault.  The difference here the charge is made against a black chauffeur by his white socialite employer.

The cast is full of unknowns, but Kate Hudson, Josh Gad and James Cromwell are well known from previous screen roles.  

Sometimes the best movies are the ones you hear the least about.  See it soon, as I doubt it will be playing next weekend.

JIM'S RANT....Here we are at the end of October, Halloween is tomorrow, leaves are off the trees, Sarasota's weather is more fall like, AND the Christmas decorations are all over the place. In my youth, Thanksgiving was the traditional start of the holiday season.  No longer, now that on-line shopping is king...Oh well, we can start thinking Easter soon.....Until next week, thanks for reading.....JIM