Saturday, May 19, 2018

MAY 20, 2018


Last week, with help from The Supreme Court, sports betting outside of Las Vegas became LEGAL.   New Jersey will benefit almost immediately having passed a constitutional amendment in favor of legalized sports betting 7 years ago.  As soon as our State Legislature gets its act together Florida, is the perfect location for this activity.

The Doug Fernandez column in Saturday's Tribune .."Sports gambling here?  Don't bet on it" casts doubt on your placing a bet  anytime soon on your favorite NFL team in the fall.  Gambling of a different kind already exists at SKC, a natural though not ideal spot to place that bet in the future.  As more and more states pass necessary legislation it will put pressure on our political leaders to act.  Until then Welcome to New Jersey.

A terrific documentary produced by CNN opened Friday at BURNS COURT.  Playing to sold-out audiences at recent Sarasota Film Festival, RBG is not to be missed.  U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 84 is not slowing down.  The film explores the life of Ginsburg from an early age, through college, and law school.  She meets the love of her life, has a family and career, culminating with her years at the Supreme Court.  Saw this on Saturday, and highly recommend.

If you can't make it to Burns, this one is sure to turn up on CNN in the coming months. 

The location formerly housing ROY'S is now open as ROLF'S New Florida Kitchen 2001Siesta Drive. At first glance nothing has changed.  The interior looks familiar, but improvements have been made to brighten your dining experience.

Dining here now is a totally new experience.  Their menu is something else as it features freshly caught Florida seafood of many varieties.  If fish is not for you, there are several meat options along with salads.  ROLF'S is fine dining and can be costly.

On the other hand, if you are one of us who take advantage of happy-hour or early dining specials, then ROLF'S Sunset Special is for you.  Priced at $20, and serving 3:30-5:30, it features a list of six entree choices, along with first course and dessert.   The portions are more than ample for dinner.

 ROLF'S  is open for dinner daily with lunch served on Sunday.  Call 941-806-6820 for a reservation.  

Monday marks the conclusion of RINGLING by the BAY.  A very popular and successful local band, Kettle of Fish performs; you are also encouraged to dance to their music as well.    Festivities begin at 6 and conclude after 9.  Taking place at Ca'd'Zan along Sarasota Bay 5401 Bay Shore Road.  Admission to event is $15, but $5.00 for Ringling members.  For more information on this event as well as current exhibits at museum click here.

These events usually sell-out.  Call 941-358-3180 before you go.

One of my annual favorites, SAVOR SARASOTA, is just a few weeks away.  This year's dates are 6/1-14, with many restaurants extending the promotion well into the summer.  With over 90 restaurants participating throughout the region you will have many choices.  Consisting of three courses, lunch is $16 pp while dinner is $32. One of my favorites, THE ROSEMARY, has had their menu available on line for several weeks.  Located at 411 N. Orange they are now accepting reservations for Savor at 941-955-7600.

Over the next several weeks, I will have information on several more restaurants participating in this year's 13th annual promotion.  I'm sure many of you can remember the early days when portions were embarrassingly small for several restaurants.  That is no longer the case as most go all out to take advantage of this slow time for their industry.

Next weekend brings a favorite annual event, THE ST. ARMANDS SEAFOOD & MUSIC FESTIVAL.  From 11am-8pm there is continuous entertainment, an all-encompassing arts and crafts show, and delicious seafood from some of the area's favorites.  Admission is free, parking is ridiculous, with  entertainment running  throughout the event. If you are a fan of oysters, mussels and more, there is a VIP tent at $130pp. AND, if you miss Kettle of Fish at Ringling, they will be performing 3:30-5:30 Saturday. 

I'll give you advance notice for 2019
Last weekend, Andrew Lane and the Sarasota Orchestra presented their annual Field of Dreams concert at Ed. Smith Stadium.  Many of you went, and took the time to write how wonderful the evening was.  Irv Becker wrote:"....the sound system was better than Van Wezel, the orchestra was outstanding, and the fireworks were better than July 4th or New Year's eve. " Barry and Suzy Benjamin were also enthusiastic in their praise.

JIM'S RANT....Good news for those of you who travel the Ringling/Orange corridor,  construction of the roundabout is over, and traffic is flowing freely through the area.  This should come as RELIEF for some who spent the season fighting the ridiculous detour around Burns Court. No more complaints; just smooth sailing through the area......See you next week for the next to last blog until late summer........JIM



Friday, May 11, 2018

May 12, 2018

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY.....You've earned it!!!

Tap card to view!!!

THEY'RE BACK!!!!!!!  Every May around this time of year those of us living  in Florida are treated to the LOVE BUG mating season.  Unfortunately, they mate all over our automobiles.  UGH....but have no fear, their season is nearly over.....until October when those lovers return to die off until next year.

FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE.....the mainstage is about to begin its summer season.  The first of  three plays begins in a few weeks with Always...Patsy Cline.  A tuneful and memorable tribute to Country Music legend, Patsy Cline.    Follow Cline from her beginnings in honky-tonk bars to the Grand Ole Opry.  Familiar songs from Crazy to Sweet Dreams.

Following in June is Murder for Two, and August by Other People's Money which sounds like some of the news stories we've been subjected to lately.  As always, subscriptions start at $39 and to $64.  There is no better Summer bargain than FST.  Call 941-366-9000 or click here to visit their web page.

 Last week's blog included my review of new Hillview Street restaurant Giorgio's.  Unfortuneatly for some of you the web address was incorrectly posted.  Though corrected on Sunday, I am repeating this week for the several of you who sent email alerting me to mistake.  

If you did not read last week, or forgot review, it is very positive!!!

Around the corner from Hillview going north is the brand new and modern YUMMY HOUSE.  Nothing has changed except address 1737 S. Tamiami Trail.  Well maybe the food is better in this location.  All your North Trail favorites are included  form Vegetable Lo Mein, to Egg Drop Soup to House Fried Rice.  JT promises to add new dishes in the coming weeks.

 New to this location is a FULL bar also serving specialty drinks.  Be sure to check out the Marsh Manhattan and the Fox Red Lotus Martini.  Call 941-351-1688 for either lunch or dinner reservation.   To view their menu for carryout and eat in click here. Save room for the soup!!!

We are several months from celebrating a new year, but that has not stopped VENICE THEATRE from putting its show for that weekend on sale now!!!  The always enjoyable, Capitol Steps will be appearing for three shows 12/29,30,an 31.  Called Make America Grin Again, the Steps take today's headlines and give you something to laugh about. 

 This show always sells out, so if you're in a mind to make your New Year plans this far in advance give them a call at 941-488-1115. 

Do you miss the entertainment of live baseball and don't want to drive through those love bugs to  see the  Rays game in Tampa?  Playing in Lecom Park,  the Bradenton MARAUDERS offer you a cheap   alternative.  Playing through August, you can purchase tickets for as low as $6.00.  Great ballpark food as well.  Click here to get complete schedule along with their weekly promotions. You can also call 941-747-303

The opening of UTC in fall of 2014 was greeted with skepticism.  No other Mall was under construction and none were in planning stages.  On-line shopping was becoming a trend and Mall shopping was from another time.  Here we are middle of May 2018, and UTC is brimming with shoppers and diners.  In fact, the corridor from Honore to 75 is the area's most condense shopping area with strip malls, big box stores, restaurants, and UTC.  See you there!!!........JIM.....Thanks for reading.  See you next week.......

Saturday, May 5, 2018

MAY 5, 2018


Hats, parties, drinking and more.  This once popular sport is now relegated to three weekends.  Enjoy!!!

As the 2017/18 season draws to a close, and summer performances set to begin, it's not too early to plan for 2018/19.  This week and next I will try to bring you a few.  But before we close the books on this season you are in for a treat next weekend.

 ARTS IN THE BALLPARK has been a successful Sarasota Orchestra presentation for several May evenings.

On May 11 and 12 beginning at 8, the orchestra is presenting Field OF Dreams.  Andrew Lane returns as conductor along with soloists Clifton and Deedee Hall.  Their program will include songs from movies, television and theatre.  La La Land, Les Miserables, Hairspray, South Pacific and Chorus Line is just a sample of what's in store for you next weekend.
 May evenings.

Each Ed Smith Stadium performance ends with a spectacular fireworks display.  Tickets from $15 sold by the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium or click here.

If you've been one of the fortunate who had tickets to this season's Florida Studio Theatre, you were thoroughly entertained at Mainstage and the Cabaret.  And if you purchased season tickets the value was exceptional.  FST's Summer Season is now available for subscription purchase; and there is no greater value than one of those.

Always Patsy Cline returns to Mainstage May 30.  Along with Murder for Two and Other People's Money you can see all 3 for as little as $39.  The Cabaret has an equally impressive lineup. 
for as little as $39.   Carole's Kings opens the season June 12.  This one is an all-male Carole King tribute combining her music along with music from the 70's and 80's.  The Music of the Night and Gilbert & Sullivan Unplugged follow. For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

Three weeks ago, I alerted you to the final show at Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.  The reviews are in, and along with the dancing in the aisles audiences, they are ecstatic.   This original Nate Jacobs musical revue features over two dozen songs many of them from our childhood.  The cast is energetic and talented as is the small band guiding them and you through the evening.  If ever there was a show not to be missed, this is it!!!  Playing through May 26,  To order tickets click here or call 941-366-1505. 

As the area around Sarasota Memorial Hospital continues to grow, so do the restaurant choices.  A relatively new one,  GIORGIO'S on HILLVIEW, is getting good word of mouth and deservedly so as we learned last week.

Their specialty is creating your own meal from pizza to pasta.  Pizza is from a Brick Oven and comes with thin crust, crisp, and all sorts of toppings.  You can create your own personal pasta from more than a dozen pastas, over 10 sauces, of which 9 are made to order, as well as several protein and vegetable options to customize your creation.

Open daily beginning at 4 call 941-365-3300 for reservations and click here for more information and menu.

Having spent a good deal of time last week encouraging you to purchase tickets to Asolo rep's presentation of RAGTIME, I am going to brief this week.  Saw the opening performance on Friday.  Cannot remember a better show at Asolo, or anywhere else in the area.  Don't miss it!!!

JIM'S RANT.....Another successful Giving Challenge is history.  As you know from last week's Blog, I am a big supporter of this fund raiser.  However, the email barrage before and during the promotion was almost too much to handle.  Hopefully they'll find a way to cut down the mail next year.  Same goes to David Shapiro's and Vern Buchanan's run for congress.  Enough already!!!!....JIM.....Have a great week........


Thursday, April 26, 2018

APRIL 29, 2018


More than 630 nonprofit organizations from the area counties are participating in the 2018 Giving Challange, presented by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.  

Starting on May 1 at noon, this online 24-hour giving day allows you to support your favorite nonprofits and have your donations matched dollar for dollar, up to $100 per donor for each organization through the Patterson Foundation.

Last year, over $13 million was raised, and with Patterson placing no limits to the number of matches a nonprofit can receive.  There is no cost, user name or password required to use The Giving Partner.

ASOLO REP'S  next show could be its BEST of season.  RAGTIME opens with previews 5/1 and continues right up to Memorial Day.   When first staged on Broadway in 1998, RAGTIME was nominated for 13 Tony Awards and won several, including Best Score.  LION KING was best musical that season.  Familiar name Frank Galati was RAGTIME'S first director

This totally revamped production originated in Minneapolis in 2016, on to Seattle in 2017 and now here!  On its way it won all major awards in each city and played to sold-out audiences night after night.

With its glorious music and compelling love story at its core, Terrence McNally's adaptation of E.L. Doctorow's novel begins at the dawn of the 20th Century in New York.  A time for enormous change, of new ideas, and the world is moving to the music of RAGTIME.

With new staging, lighting and a direction by Peter Rothstein this one should sell-out!!!  To order tickets NOW call 941-351-8000 or click here for schedule of performances and to view available seating. 

SARASOTA ORCHESTRA will not only say goodbye to Music Director, Anu Tali during their 2018-2019 season, but will be celebrating 70 years of fine music for this community.  Their brochure is available at their Holley Hall box office 709 N. Tamiami Trail, or by clicking here to view their many series offerings.

In the coming weeks, I will feature them all, but this week is a personal favorite GREAT ESCAPES.  "The programming is similar to that of the Boston Pops Orchestra, a mixture of familiar and light classical selections, spiced up with music from the movies and stage. 

There is always a Holiday program with fresh arrangements of old favorites.  New this year is an Escape devoted to dance music.  Valentine's Day is celebrated with romantic favorites and there will be a program devoted to Broadway.   The series kicks off in October and runs until early May.

One final program remains for this season, and it is SPECIAL.  The Orchestra will be on stage at Sarasota Opera House with CITY SOUNDS this coming Saturday May 5.  Music from some of the world's great cities including New York, Chicago, Athens and Madrid.   Several Orchestra solos join guest conductor Aram Demirjian starting at 7:30.  Tickets are priced $25-65 and can be purchased at 941-953-3434.

The 15th annual EMBRACING OUR DIFFERENCES, celebrates Diversity, Acceptance and Inclusion.  On display at Sarasota's Bayfront Park are 45 billboard works of art accompanied by quotes from artists and writers from around the world.  The setting is picturesque and free!!! Open daily through June1.  For more information before or after visiting exhibit click here.

One of the many billboards at Bayfront Park

Carpaccio di Manzo
Several of you have been to SPACCO ITALIAN GRILL, and based on your recommendations, along with Harry and Gayle we went the other evening.  Located in a strip mall (aren't most) near Parkway cinema, SPACCO is very casual, but authentic Southern Italian.  Meals come with hot rolls, salad or soup and can be easily shared due to over-sized portions.  From pizza to pasta to steaks, chops and even table side preparation, SPACCO has become a neighborhood favorite.

Their kitchen is open making bar seating an experience.  Best of all, their happy hour which includes many of their menu specialties along with small plates is served THROUGHOUT the restaurant.  Open for lunch Monday-Friday with dinner through Sunday.  Call 941-312-4452 for reservations.

JIM'S RANT.....Two organizations worthy of GIVING CHALLENGE support are spotlighted here this week...Sarasota Orchestra and Asolo Rep.  There are dozens more from All Fatihs Food Bank to Nate's Animal Rescue to Resurrection House to Selby Library.  Supporting your favorite nonprofit organization will help them maintain their visibility and good work in the coming months....Thanks for reading....Until next week...JIM

Friday, April 20, 2018

APRIL 22, 2018


Believe it or not, this is an annual event where we celebrate our environment, with the intent of keeping the world we live in CLEAN!!!  Use the trash cans wherever you can and don't litter.  It's as simple as that.

EXCLUSIVE BREAKING NEWS.......................YUMMY HOUSE Location at 3232 N. Tamiami Trail will close for good April 30 and reopon in new location 1737 Tamiami Trail May 4!!!!!!!  More information next week......
WBTT's successful season has come to a close with the opening of Nate Jacob's new musical revue SOUL MAN.  Featuring the classic music of 60's, 70's, and 80's from some of that era's most popular musicians Sam Cooke, James Brown, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and of course The Temptations.

 This group of versatile performers brings the house down with their version of the title song and more.  Playing through May 26 you can reserve your tickets by clicking here. Or call 941-366-1505.  Look for summer season information next week.

 I've told you several times of my lunch at TOO JAY'S.  Really never think much about them for dinner; however this past week went with another couple and encourage you to try as well.  

Not only was the service exceptional so were the menu offerings.  Their specials which come with salad or soup along with vegetables or potato are priced so inexpensively could have easily had two.  Had my favorite of matzo ball soup and 1/2 corned beef sandwich with slaw.  Side of potato latkes and rugelach for dessert.

In a recent Blog, I wrote a rant directed at Allegiant Air and asked why they did not offer direct flights to Baltimore during Spring Training.  Good Friend Joe Marsh commented "Frankly I think there are many more Sarasota residents that hail from Chicago who would welcome a non-stop flight from SRQ on Allegiant."   This was  before a 60 Minute report on their not too favorable safety record.  By years end though, Allegiant will have replaced all craft responsible for poor record.

A few days after Connors Steak&Seafood opened we had dinner there and wrote negatively about the experience.  Undaunted, along with another couple we went back to see what if any improvements had  been made.  Sad to report none!!!  Though the service was good, the food again was overpriced for what was delivered.  Bottom line Capital Grill, Hyde Park, or Ruth's Chris are far superior and cost only a few dollars more.

Not too early to begin planning for next weekend.   The first Lakewood Ranch Fine Art Festival will be on Main St. 01am-5pm Saturday and Sunday.  If you've been to this type of event downtown Sarasota, then you know what to expect.  A virtual outdoor gallery with art from local and national artisans.  Along with the paintings you'll see sculpture, jewelry, glass , ceramics, and more.   Add entertainment and food both at the show and along Main street and it's a plan!  See you there.

The VAN WEZEL concludes its highly successful 2017/18 season this week with four unique performances.  And, the good news is with so many leaving Sarasota to head back north there are decent seats left for all of them.  I'll tell you about two,  but for additional information and to purchase tickets click here.

One of the all-time Broadway classics makes a stop Tuesday and Wednesday for 3 performances.  The movie is always available, but seeing A CHORUS LINE on stage is the best way.  With very few props and costumes, this is the perfect show for VAN WEZEL.

YANNI was here a few years ago and filled the stage with musicians and spectacular music.  Billed as Acropolis 25,  this WORLD tour celebrates the 25th anniversary of one of the great live concerts of all time.  One performance next Sunday 7pm.

JIM'S RANT......We've  survived another season of snow birds, tourists and spring breakers.  The roads are passable most hours of the day; the supermarket aisles are easily accessed; the restaurants are less crowded and semi-less noisy; and tickets for most performances are available day of show.  And best of all our sensational weather continues into spring and summer...Have a great week....JIM