Saturday, July 20, 2013

SUNDAY, JULY 21, 2013

 Heat Wave
The rains keep on coming

GOOD MORNING, AND WELCOME TO ANOTHER JIM KNOWS SARASOTA..... while I was away for two weeks you folks on the East Coast have been suffering through record heat, while those of us in SARASOTA, my rant of several weeks ago was heard...several inches heard.  BUT, it's good to be back.


This rendering, courtesy Max Wave Media and SARASOTA Herald Tribune gives you an idea of the magnitude of the project.  The green area is for a yet to be announced 4th anchor store.  We are all hoping for NORDSTROM, but nothing official has been announced yet.  Justine Griffin of the Herald Tribune reports Cheesecake Factory is one of the many restaurants already committed.  Rumors of California Pizza Kitchen and Morton's Steak House joining, but nothing official.  We are also waiting confirmation of Apple, but again, just a rumor.

There is some new information regarding University Park Plaza.  Ethan Allen Furniture will be joining Panera Bread, Fidelity Investments, Florida Blue Center and other yet to be announced restaurants and retailers making use of the area directly across from UTC, and in newly constructed buildings on the west side of Cattleman Road.  No word on construction start or opening.

Across the street in Benderson Plaza,  Nordstrom Rack is set to open officially November 7.  And in an article by Justine comes news that Ashley Furniture has decided not to occupy the space under construction.  No word on a new tenant as construction continues near Nordstrom Rack's future location.

Two good friends, Judy Cahn and Gloria Biberman recently  celebrated their 70th birthdays with a month long series of events from a day of beauty at The Met, to a scrumptious brunch at Michael's on East, and a luncheon at The Bijou.  All were exceptional events, but the Bijou luncheon deserves extra space for its creativity and vendors who helped make it memorable.  Cakes by Ron, 3520 Fruitville Rd. 941-365-2991,  created the masterpiece above. 
The linens/napkins were created by Moria Saviola's Affordable Decorating & Design 941-306-5571. Moria's creativity doesn't stop there; she does window treatments, pillows, napkin holders and more.

The flowers were created by Beneva Flowers 941-308-5151.  Among their six locations are Sarasota, Longboat Key and Siesta Key.  Favors were created by Marianne E on Palm Avenue and candy was purchased at Circle favorite Kilwins.  Hostess Joan Castellani was especially grateful to Bijou manager, Karen who assisted with customized menus.

For those of us who live in the University Park corridor there is a Mail Station hidden behind Walgreen's in a strip mall that provides all kinds of services in a friendly and convenient location without the hassle of a regular post office.  From actually packing to then shipping, their services also include stamps, fax, envelopes and whatever you would need to make the trip to the post office unnecessary.   Their address is 8466 N. Lockwood Ridge Rd.  Hours are Mon-Fri 8:00am to 5pm and Saturday to 1pm. 

Currently playing and now extended at FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE is the Steve Martin farce, Underpants.  I saw it two weeks ago and found it underwhelming.  The acting, as always, was suburb.  It was the ridiculous story and unfunny situations I found tedious and boring.  It never happens, but I was glad for intermission.  You can use your imagination to guess what happened next.

The Van Wezel is beginning to announce it's fall/winter schedule.  Along with ten hit musicals and several world famous orchestras comes talent like Diana Ross and Itzah Perlman and many more.  
For a complete list of performances click here 

With summer comes an opportunity to re-visit favorite restaurants without fighting crowds for reservations and tables.  This past week I returned to both of these wonderfully casual SARASOTA restaurants, Yummy House and Lucky Pelican.   Though both were crowded, it was not too difficult to be seated and served in quick order.  The food as always was delicious.  In fact, Yummy House has finally gotten its act together with both service and food you would expect from a good restaurant.  Lucky Pelican was its old self.   I recommend going now or at least in the next few months before both will require a wait......though both are well worth the wait!!!

Playing now in a few select cities, FRUITVALE STATION opens wide next Friday.  Everything I've read about this movie makes me want to see it NOW.  It is a searing portrait of grief and outrage.  A true story about an Oakland man killed during a run-in with police, Fruitvale Station was a major winner at both Cannes and Sundance.  Entertainment weekly recently had it as #1 on its Must List.  My review will be in two weeks.  For those of us who love the movies and eagerly await adult films in the summer; this is the one to see.

DON'T MISS THE GRAND OPENING OF rev-el-ry next Saturday 4pm-close.  There will be entertainment, outside barbecue, dancing and more.  All proceeds from beer sales will be given to local veteran groups. There will be a Silent Auction with all proceeds being donated to local charities.  Hope to see you there!!

Jim's rant this week will not be rain related, though it should be.  No, my rant is for all of us who live in SARASOTA and continually complain about heavy traffic both in and out of season.  Having just spent several days in Baltimore and Atlanta; what we have is nothing compared to those two cities!  Sure it takes longer to get off of Longboat in the winter and  I 75 is congested some mornings or afternoons, but that is child's play compared to major cities.  Think about that the next time you are stuck in traffic for a FEW minutes..........

Tracy, as usual has cleaned up my original blog to make it look more professional.  I could not do this without her.  Have a great couple of weeks and I'll see you in AUGUST........JIM

Saturday, July 6, 2013

SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2013



In one year this blog has grown to  over 400 plus  readers weekly and is fast approaching 20,000 hits!!!  I could not have done it without all of you.  Thank you for reading and commenting.  Since many of you are vacationing and doing whatever in the summer, the blog is going bi-weekly until sometime in September.  So after today, I'll see you in two weeks!

On almost any Sunday, I can start a blog with a new restaurant opening.  This week is no exception.  APOLLONIA, located in the Cooper Creek shopping center opened a few weeks ago. If my lunch and dinner is any indication, it will be around longer than Urban Flats!!  Owned by  ELGRECCO restaurant on Main St. in downtown SARASOTA,  APOLLONIA,  is as good if not better than its sister restaurant.  The menu looks the same to me, only with a more modern presentation.  The Mediterranean food is outstanding, and in a contemporary and comfortable setting  even tastes better.  And the prices are reasonable, which is getting more difficult to say with each new restaurant  opening. We no longer have to travel downtown for Mediterranean.  Try it...

Continuing with the restaurant theme,  rev-el-ry, is now open for lunch daily.  In addition, a loyalty program, similar to many others in SARASOTA is now being offered.  You get rewards for frequent visits.  Volume continues to grow and in a few weeks, July 27, to be exact, they will be celebrating their first few months of business with a "grand opening".  More information in two weeks.

PROMISE:  Last restaurant this week.  Roberta and I celebrated our anniversary at ROY'S as we have for the past several years.  Next door to FLEMINGS, on the South Trail, this had been a unique addition to the restaurant scene for us at least until now.  Like the other upscale restaurant in the OUTBACK chain of restaurants, ROY'S has taken a step back from its early days.  I can't quite put my finger on the problem, but it just isn't as good as it use to be.  Yes, the higher prices are a turn-off, but something is lacking.  It wasn't the service and the meal we had was very good.  But in comparison to competitors offering similar fare,  there is better or at least as good product out there for a lot less.  The drop-off, though not as severe as FLEMINGS, gives us pause about returning in the future.

Last week's rant about the lack of adult movies brought lots of comments from you.  One especially caught my eye.  It was sent by Kathie Moon, well known area movie critic as well film teacher at PERIAN SPRINGS ACADEMY and LONGBOAT  KEY EDUCATION CENTER,  she writes...."On your rant about summer movies.  Yes, Jim, there is hope....Sarasota Film Society's Burns Court Cinema can be counted on to bring the best in cinema every day, and on weekends, 11am at their LWR location,  featuring a current or recent movie. All current movies are great or at least interesting-20 Feet From Stardom(fab doc on famous back up singers), Fill The Void(marriage choice in Israel) and opening this weekend The Attack. I will have more to say about The Attack in a few weeks, but highly reccomend you see it!! (Saw the  Stardom documentary and found it fascinating.  Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Bette Middler, and Mick Jagger to name a few all have talented back up singers who have been with them for years.  In fact one of Middler's is now in the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame.) 

Moon continues...."SARASOTA is lucky to be part of the Regal Cinemas Art Cinema program."  She also mentions that Parkway Cinemas features many art films like the Carmlike Royal Palm 20 in Bradenton.  Bottom line, there are adult movies out just have to search for them.  Currently Playing, THE HEAT, from the creators of Bridesmaids, stars Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  This movie never quite captures the originality of Bridesmaids and though funny in spots I found it tedious and underwhelming.

This summer, several high quality shows are either on their way to your TV set or currently playing.  I especially like Steven King's UNDER THE DOME Monday 10pm CBS, THE KILLING Sunday 10pm AMC, RAY DONOVAN, Sunday 10pm SHOWTIME.  Returning to HBO Sunday July 14, the second season of highly acclaimed THE NEWSROOM 10pm and number one on this week's Entertainment Weekly's must list THE BRIDGEstarts Thursday July 10, 10pm FX.

THE WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE is presenting two Summer Shows starting later this month with BEST OF STEVIE WONDER.  Nate Jacobs is staging a revue featuring all of Wonder's great hits including You Are The Sunshine of My Life, Higher Ground and more.  Performances begin 7/17 and run until the 28th.  In August, SAMMY TONIGHT returns with De'zhon Fields as the incomparable Sammy Davis, Jr. I saw this a few years ago and found it highly entertaining.

CORRECTION: Kathie Moon advises last week's Marcia Clark article incorrectly referred to The Women's Resource Center as a place for consingment/thrift when she meant The Women's Exchange on Orange. For more information click here. This is a great place to recycle and find interesting gifts while doing good.  They have a wonderful grants and scholarship program.

When you see this angry face you know two are finally at the end of this week's blog and I am going to rant...complain...about something.  I am totally frustrated at major companies who continue to outsource their customer service calls to foreign countries.  Newest case in point...COMCAST/ could have been outsourced to Asia or Mexico, but how can this company of all companies have the audacity of outsourcing service issues????  I made an was confirmed with a different time....and the technician showed up without the equipment I requested.  Turns out DVR-X won't be available until late July.  COMCAST/XFINITY is only one of many.  FRUSTRATING!!!!

Hope you had a great 4th and avoided the rain which continues in SARASOTA.  Remember when I ranted about the lack of rain??? Well, now, please make it stop!!!!

Thanks to Tracy, who I will be visiting this week.  I will write again in two weeks......JIM.....