Saturday, April 27, 2013

SUNDAY, APRIL 28, 2013

Happy reading on a beautiful Sunday in SARASOTA......

This logo is for one of most exciting and talked about restaurants to open in Sarasota in several years.  Ever since LOUIES MODERN opened its doors it has been packed wall to wall inside and out, and deservedly so.  With a unique menu, a decor that would be admired in New York or any major city, and service that is SERIOUS in it's attempts to make your dining experience a memorable one it has become the "in" spot for lunch, dinner, snack or cocktail. 

As busy as they are,  reservations are honored with little or no wait.  Go this week, and see what all the talk is about.  You will not be disappointed.  There are items on the menu for all tastes...hamburger, gourmet pizza, short ribs, and scallops are just a few.  See for yourself why LOUIES has become the go to restaurant for good food and a fun evening.
And if it is too noisy for you inside, the outside dinning area is a fun place to eat as well.
JIM'S SUGGESTION.......LOUIES is on the first floor of the infamous Palm St. parking lot where hundreds park for free daily.  If  SARASOTA'S city council doesn't need the money why not designate a week each month to a  local charity to man the lot and collect whatever anyone is willing to give??? Make too much sense for these folks???

As summer looms closer, those of us in Florida who have made a second life out of retirement are enjoying every minute of it.  George Miles, Executive Assignment Editor has contributed an article from a recent WSJ...".NOT CONTENT TO SIT ON PORCH, FLORIDA RETIREES ROCK ON."  click here to read the article .  And "ROCK ON" we do at theatre, restaurants,festivals, movies, symphony and more.  For instance.....


For those of us who make SARASOTA home, FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE offers entertainment in summer as well as winter.  This year's schedule was announced last week and consists of one musical, Kander and Ebb's the world goes Round; Steve Martin's the Underpants, and South Beach Babylon by Michael McKeever.  Series tickets are on sale now.  This is the best live entertainment buy in SARASOTA.
Miri Ben-Ari
Tickets are still available for the 5/11 concert at SARASOTA Opera House Innovations series featuring Israeli  Miri Ben-Ari, Grammy award winning soloist in a narrated multimedia program exploring revolutions: political, social and creative.  Ms. Ben-Ari is well versed in jazz, R&B, hip hop and classical. The concert is 80 minutes without intermission and is presented by The Jewish Federation in celebration of Israel's 65th anniversary of Statehood.   
Jason returns this week as Feature Correspondent.  His first find is SAVOR SARASOTA RESTAURANT WEEK 6/1-14. click here for a list of participating restaurants.  The list is not final, nor are the menus on line yet, but if your favorite one is here, I suggest you make a reservation NOW, because they will sell-out quickly!  A three course meal  is $15 for lunch and $29 for dinner.  If past years are any indication, there will be some great food at these  ridiculous prices.

When moving to SARASOTA full-time in 2002, the restaurant choices were few; especially away from Main Street or Long Boat Key.  Eleven years later we have dozens of choices.  For instance....SAVORY AT NIGHT serves the best Mexican Fusion around.  A recent visit found a crowded dining room and great food....YUMMY HOUSE has been wall to wall since opening,  and the large menu of Chinese Cuisine keeps getting better with age....LUCKY PELICAN in Lakewood Ranch serves some of the best seafood in the area and they too are full most nights. 

I am finishing this week's list with an old favorite I can still remember from our first visit here in 1991, BLUE DOLPHIN CAFE serving breakfast and lunch daily.  Food and service both make the experience and WAIT worthwhile. In the coming weeks, I will reintroduce some more of my favorites.  If you have any suggestions, please email me at and I will add them to the list.  NOW is a good time to eat out; especially during the week as our busy season is over and the wait time is non-existant at most of the more popular restaurants.

JIM'S RANT this week is against all the drivers on University at 301 who forget or don't care that the third lane WEST BOUND is dedicated to the trailer park traffic; not to speed up and cut in front of the two other lanes. Granted, we do have visitors who are unaware of the lane shift, but those of you who live here or spend time here should know better!!!!...shame on you.

Thanks to Editor in Chief, Tracy who makes me look better than I am, to CIO Debbie, Chief Publicist Carole, Executive Assignment Editor George, and Feature Correspondent Jason, who this week FINALLY made his college decision, TULANE UNIVERSITY.  Congratulations!! Next week, I am going to tell you about Cori's first year adventures at University of Georgia! Have a great week......JIM


Saturday, April 20, 2013

SUNDAY, APRIL 21, 2013

Good morning! Welcome to another week of "early summer" in SARASOTA.  This week marks the beginning of RINGLING COLLEGE 2013 Senior Thesis Exhibition,  comprising works from seniors of all majors. many of the galleries on campus are hosting exhibits daily throughout the college.  For a complete schedule including times, dates and locations click here .  RINGLING is one of our true jewels, and living here  or visiting affords you an opportunity unequaled by most cities.

Janet Miles, Tom Brokaw, George L. Miles Jr. 
Staying with Ringling College,  but moving to the RINGLING COLLEGE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION, my Executive Assignment Editor, George L. Miles Jr , reported "This year's Town Hall last  speaker, award winning and distinguished journalist Tom Brokaw,  spoke to another full house at Van Wezel.  Tom's remarks were intelligent, humorous, full of historical perspectives, and thought provoking. He asked our national leaders to seek common ground much like past leaders.  His best remark was to encourage all of us to demand "ADULTS" in leadership.

Next year's RINGLING COLLEGE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION lineup includes George W. Bush, Lara Logan of CBS, Leon Panetta, Wes Moore, Platon, and a speaker still in negotiations; however incoming President Jay Logan,  while making the announcement pulled out a BIG GULP SODA.  You make the connection.  In addition to the above, Jenna Bush Hager is an extra speaker for all those with PLATINUM subscriptions.  Current subscribers get first opportunity for tickets to either the evening or morning lecture.  This is one of the best series any major market has to offer and it is because of reputation that it attracts only the best."

It has been several months of zero movie reviews.  I am happy to report, last week's opening of 42, was the week's highest grossing movie and attracted adults back into theatres.  It tells the story of Jackie Robinson's good and bad days as baseball's first player to break the color line in 1947.  The acting is first rate with Harrison Ford playing Branch Rickey, the one baseball owner with the courage to sign the best player of his era.  Ford is a great actor whose roles these past several years have not done justice to him.  Forget Indiana Jones, Star Wars and the rest, he is truly magnificent here, as is the entire cast. I highly recommend this one!!


A few weeks ago, I informed you  of a new iPhone app full of wonderful coupons.  Some took advantage of the app, some ignored it, or some didn't read that portion at all.  I am back again urging you to either go on line and look it up or download it on your phone.  Among companies offering anywhere from10-40% discounts on the site are ULTA, BED BATH AND BEYOND, STEIN MART, FRESH MARKET, TARGET and many, many more.  IT IS FREE.  Its name is SNIP SNAP.

AKINATOR IS NOT FREE, but if you're looking for a fun party game or diversion on a long car trip or just want to have a good time, this is the APP for you.  You will be amazed at the knowledge of this "genie" as you ask him questions about a person, living or dead, and in a few minutes he comes up with the answer.  The best $1.99 I've spent so far for iPhone and iPad.

HYDE PARK revisited.  After my unfavorable review of this restaurant a few weeks ago, word got back to new manager Chad Allard, who called and asked about our bad experience.  I was candid with him, he took the criticism well, and asked if we would give HYDE PARK another chance.  We did....twice!! First for dinner where  our meal and service were vastly improved from our last visit, and HAPPY HOUR at the patio bar, featuring fun drinks and interesting food for much less than the normal menu.  There are several happy hours in SARASOTA; this is one of the best with more seating than most.

If you are looking for a mother's day brunch, Hyde Park has created a 3-course menu $27.95 per person including, Short Ribs&Eggs, Bacon-Wrapped Twin Fillet, and more, plus a $20 dining card to mom to enjoy on a future occasion.

This week, I had to call COMCAST about billing issues.  While on the line I inquired about ANY ROOM DVR, which is being offered by both BRIGHTHOUSE and VERIZON. I learned it is available from COMCAST/XFINITY NOW right here in SARASOTA for a few dollars per month and a small set-up charge. As a COMCAST subscriber, you can now watch recorded programs on every set, not just the one doing the actual recording.  If you record as much TV as we do, I highly recommend this new service.  It won't be promoted until more markets are on line. 

Put your DVR to work this Sunday 8-10pm when DISCOVERY airs the Robert Redford documentary ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN REVISITED.  I have read two highly favorable reviews of this film that Redford produced and narrates.  It will also be ON-DEMAND a few days later. And, don't miss MARY AND MARTHA on HBO.  The blog is late because I just watched the movie of two mothers who lose their sons to malaria and find a way to work through their pain to help prevent the terrible disease from spreading. Hillary Swank and Brenda Blethyn turn in award performances.

JIM's RANT this week is the high cost of watching television these days.  We're stuck and they know it. Oh for the good old days of FREE television.  With bills approaching $100 and beyond this is getting ridiculous.  and here we are again, with most of the better programs running in competition with each other.  However, I still recommend ANY ROOM DVR, I just don't like paying for it!!!!

In closing this week, I want to congratulate TICKET SARASOTA on its 21st anniversary.  They are celebrating with a party Thursday, April 25, 5:30-7:30 pm at their offices on Main Street. Tickets are $10 per person.  Information about this event can be found all over Sarasota.

Is it just me, or is the HERALD TRIBUNE delivering us a better product these days?  More emphasis on local features, like Panhandling, Benderson Rowing, Illegal gambling , the current Legislative session, improved graphics, new writers for this generation.  Hats off to them .  Keep it up.

Thanks as always to Tracy for her attention to detail and for George for his informative narrative about the RINGLING LIBRARY SPEAKER SERIES.  He returns next week with an interesting article from the WSJ about retirees rocking on.  And also coming back next week is Jason in a new role as well as the eagerly anticipated announcement of his next 4 years.
To the courageous participants, first responders, Boston Police and everyone involved with the Boston Marathon bombings,  thank you for keeping the true spirit of America alive.....JIM

Saturday, April 13, 2013

SUNDAY, APRIL 14, 2013

GOOD is your last chance to visit one of the best craft shows of the season:  THE 35th ANNUAL SIESTA FIESTA.  Located on Ocean Blvd. and Beach Road on Siesta Key, it features over 250 of the nation's most talented artists and crafters along with plants, food and entertainment.  Parking is always a hassle; whether going to FIESTA or the top rated beach in the country it can take hours to find a  parking space.   Fear no more, there is a way to get there conveniently and inexpensively....
Siesta Shuttle is a full service shuttle service from Westfield Southgate Mall (Saks, Macy's, Dillard's) to Siesta Key Beaches and Siesta Key Village, site of SIESTA FIESTA. The fare is $5 for adults, and free for kids under 12.  This weekend it is leaving every 30 minutes 9am-7pm.  The shuttle leaves from the north east corner of the mall parking lot (near Dillard's).

The picture above is designed to draw your attention to North Cattleman Road extension.   Both northbound and southbound lanes are open to traffic south of Brown Lane.  The intersection of North Cattleman Road and Richardson Road is now a one-way stop.  Roberta and I drove the entire length of Cattleman last weekend while visiting a rowing event at BENDERSON PARK.  It is ready to open except for some landscaping.  It should be open for traffic sometime this spring, and will bring one more north-south travel option in addition Honore, Tuttle, Lockwood Ridge and I75. 

Today is also the last day to watch the FSRA rowing championships at the aforementioned BENDERSON PARK.  Several schools from around the state are participating affording you an opportunity of seeing several races and experiencing the new Cattleman Road extension.  jim's first  rant this week comes from a letter to the editor in Wednesday's Herald-Tribune by an uninformed University Park resident.  She has not a clue as to what is being planned for the BENDERSON ROWING FACILITY.  Demeaning the crowd as amateur she fails to take into account the number of visitors attracted to the rowing events as well as the number of dollars being spent each weekend there is an event.  Furthermore she questions the site without ever seeing a rendering of the site as well as the finished product.  And, though it's hard to argue "Arts and services first" she is way off base saying..."The money is better spent on the arts and services for the needy instead of Benderson's fantasies."  You need more than sunshine and beaches to attract snow-birds and tourists.  They come to SARASOTA for several reasons in addition to our arts and culture. Thankfully, the Benderson family stepped up to the plate and created this wonderful facility for us.
Last week I encouraged you to watch the premiere of Mad Men.  Much to my disappointment, it dragged and did little to move a new story line for their sixth and next to last season.  Hopefully the remaining weeks will make up for the first week's boredom.  Mr. Selfridge on PBS was also sluggish and repetitive.  THE GOOD WIFE is back this week along with VEEP so you have many options.  For golf enthusiasts, this is also the MASTERS weekend.  If the tournament runs beyond 7, be sure to set your DVR for THE MENTALIST as well so you don't miss part of GOOD WIFE. 

PBS ALERT.....The Ken Burns documentary THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE which was on demand and later at Burns Court for a few weeks is being shown on PBS Tuesday 9-11pm.  We saw it and highly recommend your viewing as well.

The popular Florida chain, Michelangelo has opened its 5th location in the  University Parkway shopping center anchored by TIRE'S PLUS.  CIO Debbie was there and writes..."We each had a slice of cheese pizza.  Mine had a hot,  with a crispy crust and just the right amount cheese.  Jack's had Sicilian with fresh tomato rather than sauce.  Also very thin and crispy.  For a reasonable price, we split an order of linguine with white clam sauce and a salad.  Open as well for lunch, there will soon be a covered area for outside eating so feel free to bring your dog. Carry out along with free delivery extending the University Parkway corridor, this will be my go-to for neighborhood Italian."
Debbie also reports, on a sad note, one of the first restaurants to open
 in the KOHL'S/FRESH MARKET complex, Red Elephant,  has closed its doors.  I went there twice, was not impressed, but it was always  busy with young families.  The parking lot was full most evenings, so one can only guess why they closed. 

 After graduating college , I had a dream of owning my own restaurant.  A Chicago friend , Bob Don, worked in a successful family restaurant supply business.  It was my vision to someday own a restaurant so Bob agreed to set up a meeting with his father.  I met with Mr. Don to learn the ins and outs of the restaurant business...."for every one that makes it, hundreds fail."  I did not like those odds and chose broadcast marketing, sales and advertising  instead.  WISE CHOICE!!!  The DON company is still supplying restaurants all over the country, including SARASOTA.

A few weeks back, we spent a couple of days in South Beach with our son and college friends.  On Collins Ave still selling hot corned beef,  the former WOLFIE'S delicatessen, so famous in the 50's and 60's.  It still sits on the same spot,  only now it is known as Jerry's Famous Deli.  It smelled good.  That's as far as we got to the food.  Took a walk down Ocean Drive and felt like we were in the BIRD CAGE movie of several years ago.  It is a freak show, that is sure.  Lincoln Road is now an open mall with stores on both sides of the street and tables and benches in the middle.  It was good to get back to SARASOTA.

jim's second rant is again directed at SARASOTA's county commission who waited until the last minute to appropriate funds for the SUNCOAST SUPER BOAT GRAND PRIX which has been a July event for 28 consecutive years.  The economic impact is more than $14.3 MILLION and possibly 13,000 area hotel rooms.  We all know the economy has been sluggish at best, but is now rebounding, but when money is thrown to events with less exposure, why should one have to wait for the last minute to get funding?????

Tracy, you really did yeoman work this week.  No one will know the problems you resolved for me.  Thanks to Debbie for her Michelangelo review and the news on Red Elephant, and a very happy birthday to her as well. .......  Everyone have a great day........JIM

Saturday, April 6, 2013


Good morning! Welcome to the week before TAX day.  For all you procrastinators like me who  are waiting until the last minute to send in your return, there is a mail depository at 850 Tallevast Rd. right behind the airport with Saturday pickup at 5 and 7:30pm.

Tonight, MAD MEN returns from 9pm-11pm on AMC for its sixth (and second-to-last ) season.  This is one of television's finest programs. It takes us, and especially me, back to the early days of broadcast advertising.  Since my career began at the time of MAD MEN, I can attest to the authenticity of the culture.  Carousing, drinking and smoking were all part of it as were elaborate lunches, which for the underlings took place of dinner and was a money saver for a poorly compensated business at that time.  

One quick story.  I learned early in my career not to drink at lunch and to conduct most business in the afternoon when everyone else was too tired or half-drunk to pay close attention.  I would get to the restaurant early and tell the server to bring my "usual" when everyone else ordered a drink.  My "usual" was a glass of soda water with lime! My biggest account was Rust-Oleum. Of course, two heavy drinkers handled their time-buying.  I took them to lunch at one of Chicago's finest restaurants, watched them down three perfect Manhattan's each and then proceeded to help them with their buy. You can guess who walked away with the bulk of their dollars.

A recent visit to the TARGET CENTER gave me a bird's eye view of  progress being made at THE MALL AT UNIVERSITY TOWN CENTER.  Any day now, structural construction for a late 2014 opening will begin.  The picture above is the entrance to TOWN CENTER.  Hopefully in the coming weeks I will be able to tell you some of the exciting retail and dinning additions who have signed on.  click here for more information .  At site you can watch a virtual tour video by clicking on photo and video gallery and then video.  You are looking for University Town Center/Sarasota.

The famous golfer above is SAM SNEAD.   Born in 1912, he lived two more years than the number of PGA titles he won, 82. This is the number Tiger Woods is chasing as he prepares for the Masters next week.  BUT, this is not about golf, rather a restaurant in Snead's name at the corner of Osprey and Hillview in SARASOTA.  Referred to as an American Bar, it is much more than that with a menu for every foodie.  My favorite is their Florida Cobb Salad, but ribs are fantastic, flat bread as good as anywhere, a hamburger as good as it gets, and steak or  prime rib that compete with SARASOTA's best. You won't go home hungry (you'll probably take some of your meal home).  SAM SNEAD'S takes and honors reservations.  Get there early for happy hour.

We had dinner again on Saturday.  The restaurant was full, but our 7pm table was ready upon arrival.  Roberta's prime rib was super.   Our server was excellent, and we could even hear each other , though like most SARASOTA restaurants on a Saturday night, the noise level is at high volume.  As we left through the bar we watched the end of Louisville vs. Wichita State.  Very exciting finish.
A few weeks ago, Roberta and I along with several Longboat and SARASOTA friends attended a wonderful birthday party for dear friend Bud Bronska.  It is hard to believe he will be 90 later this summer.  He is in magnificent shape (well his hearing leaves a little to be desired) and swims regularly every morning.  In fact, he has not missed a day in 4 years while residing on Longboat Key during the winter months.  His wife Nancy and several children and grandchildren made the evening memorable for all of us.  HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUD.

A new restaurant on University near Tuttle, rev-el-ry Pub and Grill, is opening soon.  Some of you may well avoid it, since it sits on the site of former failures...Johnny Carino's and Malanga.  I met the owners John and Angela and their enthusiasm excitement and unique menu (still under construction) won me over.  They are scheduled to open sometime in early May.  Stay tuned for my review.

 With only fresh (never frozen) ingredients and local produce (when season permits) they are attempting to distance themselves from others who are not so particular with their ingredients.  The pub menu, reasonably priced, will be available throughout the restaurant.  Your choices will include Ahi Tuna Tartare as well as pizza, fresh fish and of course burgers.  A happy hour will allow you to indulge in your favorite drinks at reduced prices.  This is in no way a recommendation.  Just a heads up to know what you have seen under construction may well be what that area is looking for...a quality restaurant beyond University and 75 other than Outback and Lazy Lobster.
Located in a small strip mall on US 41 somewhere between Fruitville and Blvd. Of The Arts is one of SARASOTA'S best breakfast/lunch restaurants.  TOASTED MANGO CAFE is relatively new to the restaurant scene, but in a few short years has become a favorite for residents, visitors and tourists.  The owners and many of the staff were trained at BLUE DOLPHIN another popular and very good breakfast/lunch restaurant on Longboat Key.  If you love oatmeal as I do, theirs is one of the best.  They also have wonderful omelets and pancakes.  Be prepared to wait.

Last week's blog told you of several SARASOTA residents recent visit to Philadelphia.  Missing from that report was their favorite dinner at a restaurant  owned by Fran and David Lambert's son,  SAVAONA in Lower Marion. They feasted on a meal created by the head chef.  The food tasted even better knowing they were eating in a room in the house which was once Aaron Burr's.

This week's rant has nothing to do with SARASOTA, instead it has to do with one of our favorite pastimes.....watching television on Sunday night. Relaxing from the weekend and looking for escape entertainment  before turning in for the night...why is it MOST of the better programs compete with each other....MAD MEN, THE GOOD WIFE, GIRLS, and now MASTERPIECE THEATER (which by the way has an exceptionally good mini-series, MR. SELFRIDGE, starring Jeremy Pivan) MR. SELFRIDGE is the true story of Selridge's London department store. And, to make it even worse, next Sunday VEEP returns to HBO at 10.  The DVR gets a good workout in the Fox household on Sunday.

Have a great week and we'll do this again next Sunday.  Thanks to Tracy for helping me put the blog together.......JIM