Saturday, January 30, 2016

JANUARY 31, 2016


Taking a page from NBC and filling the void before SUPER BOWL SUNDAY, FOX has recreated a three hour version (including those ever present commercials) of GREASE televised live before an actual audience spreading over two theaters.

What's intriguing about this GREASE is not the cast of almost-famous performers, but its director, Thomas Kail, who helmed the unstoppable Broadway juggernaut HAMILTON.  We saw that show over the summer and it's as good as advertised!!

This performance combines the elements of the movie (remember John Travolta and Olivia Newton John) and the Broadway show that preceded it.  A new song has been added as well.  So sit back and enjoy tonight as you prepare for next week's big game. 

The tent is up and now all that's missing is YOU!!!  CIRCUS SARASOTA, under the big top in its new location at Nathan Benderson Park, is now selling tickets for all performances.  Dates are February 12-28.  Titled, Red White and BELLO!!! , and featuring many of last year's wonderful performers without  Nik Wallenda and his family.  However, after selling out last year , I would get my tickets NOW.  You can call 941-355-9805 or click here to purchase tickets on-line. 

AJC's 2016 Winter Lunch & Learn is a few weeks away.  On Thursday, February 11, at Michael's On East, the program features Deidre Berger, Director AJC Berlin.  Her topic which is grabbing headlines on evening news nightly as well as on the Presidential campaign trail is EUROPE IN CRISIS: TERRORISM, POPULISM AND IMMIGRATION.  Tickets including lunch are only $30 and can be purchased by calling 941-365-4955 or email  What with the rise of anti-Semitism both here on several college campus's and around the world, this is one event you should not miss.

SARASOTA Orchestra Masterworks continues its exceptional season this weekend (February 4-7) as Anu Tali returns for an ALL ABOUT MOZART program.  She is joined by a father-son duo, Sergey Dogadin on violin and Andrei on viola.  Mozart's 41st and final symphony highlights this performance.  Tickets are available for all performances at 941-953-3434 or by clicking here and purchasing your tickets on line. 

If you go Sunday afternoon, you will be home in ample time for Super Bowl 50.

 The 32nd Annual GLENDI....A Greek Festival is also this weekend, February 4-7. It takes place at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox church, 7671 N. Lockwood Ridge Road.  Treat yourself to the food, music and traditions of Greece.  Admission is $4.00, kids under 12 free. Proceeds benefit Take Stock in Children.   This is always a big event For more information including parking and shuttle service to event click here.

 In a few weeks, (March 11&12) you can take advantage of a self-guided tour of Artist Studios located at the Ringling College of Art & Design and several additional locations around Sarasota. 
Tickets purchased on-line will be mailed, or if you prefer can be picked up at the college.  The cost is $20 now or $25 at the door.  Money raised by the event goes for scholarships for students involved in the arts in SARASOTA. For a complete list of 2016 Creators and Collectors Tour click here.

Last year this same program raised over $40,000 and hopes to do even better this year.   The charm of our city is the blending of art, symphony, theater, opera, ballet and more.  

A unique diversion for out of town guests is the Gospel Brunch at Blue Rooster located at 4th and Orange.  Doors open at 11:30am for the first buffet/performance.  The buffet is southern style with fried chicken, grits, bacon, eggs and more.  The music quite frankly disappoints as it is lacking in gospel.  During the week, Blue Rooster presents some remarkable talent along with their unique menu.  Though the brunch is popular, I recommend going in the evening when the entertainment is better.
If on the other hand, gospel music is your thing, there is a Gospel Music Convention starting Monday and running through next Saturday.  Taking place at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, Palmetto.  Tickets are $18 per night.  There are several performances spread over the six days.  For a complete schedule of performances please click here.

With so many new restaurants it is impossible to try them all in one week, let alone a month.  However, Contributor Debbie Yonker, Mark Freed, Roberta and I made our way to the recently opened RUSTY BUCKET 257 N. Cattleman Rd. across from UTC. 

 A friendly upscale sports bar; there is nothing like it in SARASOTA.  We all felt transported to another city...Atlanta or Chicago.  Hard to describe, it just has the feel of being somewhere else.   The decor is tasteful.  The menu gives many choices.  Hamburger of course, pizza too, scrumptious salads and more.  There are several television sets for the sports crowd, but if its good comfort food at reasonable prices this new one is a great addition to our restaurant scene for all of us.  Serving lunch and dinner daily.

JIM'S RANT....check the blog, but on January 17, I wrote Sol was leaving Sol Meyer and moving into the vacated Applebee's near Hollywood 20. Ten days later,  The Herald confirmed this in their Business Section. In all the years living here, I have never seen more hype for such a mediocre product. Sol Meyer,  A disaster from the start, could right itself with a new chef.   One can only hope Sol's NYC Delicatessen a few blocks east  gets its act together with the former chef in this new location.  One thing though, JIM DOES REALLY KNOW SARASOTA.......


To join us at the event please click here 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

JANUARY 24, 2016

The crowds come early and stay late!!!

This particular event has grown in size and popularity.  Easily the top craft show of the winter season, you will see many favorite artisans from past shows as well as new for this year.  While on St. Armands take advantage of the many shops and restaurants.

Today(Sunday) is the last day to visit Sarasota Seafood and Music Festival located at Five Points Intersection/ Downtown Sarasota.  This one is a unique blending of fresh local seafood, music and visual entertainment.  The food is provided by several local restaurants.  Live musical performances from the genres of rock-and-roll, jazz, calypso, reggae and more.  In addition there will be an outdoor gallery of arts and crafts by regional and national talent.  Open tonight until 7 pm.  If you are reading this mid-week, you missed a good one.  Look for it next year.

Temple Emanu-EL, Sarasota's leading Reform Synagogue  will be celebrating  its 60th anniversary next month.  To mark the occasion they are having a GALA in their newly remodeled Benderson Family Hall.  Music provided by  the Robbie Rose orchestra and a dinner catered by Fete of Lakewood Ranch.

There will also be a surprise drawing at the end of the evening that I am told is something very special.  For more information call Renee Gold at 941-379-3298 or email to get her perspective on event. She'll have you laughing all the way to a table!!  Space is limited so I suggest you book early.

If you are fortunate enough to have tickets to this year's RCLA Town Hall Lecture series, you're in for a great ride.  The first speaker was Michael Eisner.  His career spans from ABC to Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Company and currently head of Tornante Company which is providing television entertainment to Netflix among others.

Eisner's adult cartoon comedy, BoJack Horsman marks the first animated original series for  to appear on that streaming service.

The rest of this year's speakers includes Robin Roberts, General David Petraeus and a political discussion hosted by CBS's Sharyl Attkisson with Jim Messina and Karl Rove going at it.  To join RCLA email  Sorry to say, this season is a sell-out both morning and evening, but you can join now and get tickets for next year.

If you are attending next week's St. Armands craft show, planning ahead for lunch or dinner would be a wise decision.
Blu Kouzina 25 N. Blvd of the Presidents, after a shaky start at the end of 2015, is now one of our best restaurants, serving a complete menu of Greek specialties.  Their fish is flown fresh daily from Greece, and those salads, bread and pita is better than most Greek or otherwise.  Service is quick and responsive to your requests.  A top drawer wine list adds to your experience.

I recommend  calling 941-388-2619 NOW to reserve your table.  They recently added outside seating which on a nice afternoon or evening is the place most of our tourists choose to dine.

If Greek is not your thing, then by all means travel north and attempt to get a table at DRYDOCK.  Nearly impossible to walk in and get immediate seating, the wait is well worth it.  I wouldn't advise traveling there next weekend, but they do take preferred seating requests (when available) at 941-383-1012.  They are located 412 Gulf of Mexico Drive, a short drive from the circle.  From complete meals to sandwiches to salads, DRYDOCK is easily the most favorite of all Longboat restaurants.  Located on the water and serving daily 11am-9pm this is one of our Sarasota favorites.

Columbia restaurant, Blue Dolphin and Venizia are just a few of the many restaurants to visit next weekend or whenever on circle or at the beach.

This past week, we revisited  STONEWOOD, one of the earliest University Parkway restaurants. Now with two locations to serve you,  8415 University Parkway and 5415 Stickney Point Rd., their high standard for quality and reasonable prices continue to impress.  Now open for lunch as well, both locations are usually busy and do take either call ahead or reservations.  Their pretzel bread is to die for as is Chicken Pot Pie, Salmon, and most salads.  For a "chain" restaurant , Stonewood, defies that description.  Call ahead and reservations are available at both locations.

CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN UPDATE..........first phase of construction has begun with a late 2016 opening planned.  It will be located in the area between UTC and Panera in a freestanding out -parcel.  A great addition to the area.  Visiting recently opened Rusty Bucket and will report next week.

JIM'S RANT....Parking continues to be an issue for downtown SARASOTA.  Failed parking meters, three parking garages (including Whole Foods), reduced hours, 2 for lower floors, 4 for higher,  etc., etc., etc.  And here we are today, with the city planning to introduce an app for drivers to remotely lengthen their parking duration in garages by paying for that privilege through the app.  And now they are considering bringing back those ridiculous parking meters. Wonder how many senior citizens will take advantage of  Main St. and beyond?  Simple solution to their budget deficit: charge for all garage parking!!!.......

A big thank you as always to Tracy.  More contributors next week.  Space was limited.  See you the week before SUPER BOWL SUNDAY.....JIM

Sunday, January 10, 2016

JANUARY 17, 2016


Tickets for BALTIMORE ORIOLES spring games go on sale 10;00 AM Saturday January 23rd at the Ed Smith box office at 2700 12th Street.  Their schedule this year features games against the Yankees, Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays,  Phillies, Detroit and Atlanta.  Since the Orioles arrival and renovation of ball park a few years ago, this has been a hot February attraction and most games either sell out or come close.
Another event to put on your calendar is Monday, February 8. The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee is proud to present An Evening with EHUD BARAK.  Former Prime Minster of Israel (1999-2001), Defense Minister of Israel (2007-2012), and Israel's most decorated soldier.
Barak will be speaking at the Hyatt Regency Hotel conveniently located at 1000 Boulevard Of The Arts.  He is expected to lecture about his service to Israel, promote his newest book: My Country, My Life, Fighting For Israel, Searching For Peace, as well as answer questions regarding Israel's current relationship with USA.

After  posting this, I learned tickets are sold out, but you can get on wait list by calling 941-371-4546 or by visiting here.  Tickets are only $18; no wonder the early sell-out.  Sponsors include Observer, Sarasota Memorial and The Mazur Family Fund. 

I've written countless times about this season's ASOLO schedule.  In my wildest dreams did I think they could follow-up West Side Story with a play equally as good or maybe even stronger, but they have. You must see All The Way.

The acting, staging, and overall production of All The Way goes along WAY in establishing this theater as our best.  The show grabs your attention with its very clever beginning and does not let go until its equally smart ending.  Running over two hours in length, it never slows.  All the Way Runs through April 9 with soon to be added shows click here for entire 2016 schedule and to purchase tickets to All The Way. You're in for a terrific evening or matinee of theater!!!

 SARASOTA Orchestra, under the leadership of Andrew Lane, is presenting a pops concert this weekend at its home base VAN WEZEL featuring Broadway favorites.  The program, Memories of My Favorite Things, features music from Andrew Lloyd Weber, Broadway hit musical School Of Rock, Rogers and Hammerstein and others.

  Guest vocalist Norm Lewis, who was the Phantom on Broadway performs a variety of songs from Sound of Music, Cats, Carousel, Phantom of the Opera of and Sunset Boulevard.  This Friday and Saturday. To purchase tickets to this program as well as future programs click here.

Playing  in The Goldstein Cabaret at Florida Studio Theatre, YESTERDAY, features the music of Who, Rolling Stones and The Beatles among others.  Journey back into a time when we really practiced peace, love, friendship as well as listening to our radio for the classic hits of the time. This one runs through May1, so there will be several opportunities to see it before you leave.

 Good friend, Larry Coleman is raving about this one.  Told me not to miss it!!!  You can see all the Cabaret shows this season for the ridiculous price of $39.  Still playing Soul Mates continues to sell out nightly. To get a schedule for Cabaret as well as Main Stage performances click here. Where you will find all current ticket information.

Now that 1st Street's construction is over, Social restaurant is thriving again with a full house most evenings; especially with their outside eating area reopen for business.  Friend and fellow biker Randy Silagy writes..."the last time we went to Social, we were disappointed with food.  After writing about our experience on open table, I was invited back with offer of free entree for what they called a "second" chance.  With a few friends we ventured back last week and were pleasantly surprised.  It seems Social once again has its act together.....we will definitely go back."  Randy also advises ALL meals comped.  Good PR for Social.

A few weeks ago,  we had an opportunity to revisit one of our favorite Main St. restaurants, Selva Grill.  It was during holiday week, so you can imagine the place was packed both inside and out. And though the noise was deafening at times, the food isn't.  That same consistent Peruvian taste and presentation has only improved with age.  There is ample food to share either an appetizer or main course, and if you go on Tuesday, wine bottles are 1/2 off.   Service is impeccable.  Though pricey, Selva,  is still one of our finest restaurants.

A REAL delicatessen counter courtesy Mark Freed
By now you are probably getting tired of my Sol Meyer updates.  Cannot resist the latest, since it came from Sol.  He is leaving the restaurant at the end of January to start still another one in the space formerly occupied by Applebee's in the building adjacent to Hollywood 20.  At the moment, that is all I know.  New menu is being kept under wraps. However, he is telling everyone it will be a NY style Jewish delicatessen.

All Faiths Food Bank, along with Temple Emanu-EL, honored their many volunteers with a luncheon this week at the Temple.   Attended  by several hundred, it was their way of saying thank you to all of us who spend hours helping to feed the thousands who go hungry on a daily basis in Sarasota. Kudos to Mattisons for a fine meal.  That All Faiths outperforms our neighbor market, Tampa, speaks volumes of management and the volunteers.  If you want to make a contribution click here for levels of giving as well as information on All Faiths.
JIM'S RANT....After nearly two years, the market has finally discovered the Cattleman Road extension from Fruitville Rd to University Parkway.   Friday morning during a violent storm with I75 backed up both north and south, Cattleman was moving along at its posted 30-40 mph with zero stop and go!!!  It's also a viable option when going north to south and easily avoids the University Park congestion especially during morning and afternoon rush.

Tracy did her usual fine editing job this week, and new contributor Randy, found a restaurant he really likes. Larry Coleman also provided his review of FST Cabaret.  And to Mark Freed, freezing his you know what off in Chicago who went to a REAL delicatessen for food and photo.   Until next week.....JIM.......


Friday, January 8, 2016

JANURARY 10, 2016

What better way to celebrate his legacy than to join us SUNDAY, JANUARY 17, as the Brotherhood, Sisterhood and Social Action Committee of Temple Emanu-El pay tribute to one of this country's true hero's. Emanu-EL will host a program featuring music from The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, and  founder Nate Jacobs, along with  Rev. Charles McKenzie who will be reciting actual orations of Dr. King. 

A $15 dollar contribution will benefit ALL FAITHS FOOD BANK. Tickets can be purchased in  advance at Temple Emanu-EL, 151 McIntosh Rd, Sarasota, FL 34232 by January 12. You can also purchase tickets at door on the January 17 for $18.  Doors open at 1:30, Program begins at 2:00 and there will be socializing with light refreshments immediately following in the Benderson Family Hall.  This is a truly exceptional event.  For questions call Don Malawsky at 941-359-2890.
Appropriately, Westcoast's newest sensation opens this Wednesday, January 13,  with  MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM. The show is based on the book by August Wilson and won the 1984-85 New York Drama Critics Award for best show.  A play with music, it  begins in the late 1920''s in Chicago, with the fiery blues legend Gertrude "Ma" Rainey about to record her music when tension between Rainey, the musicians and a white producer boil over.

This show highlights a time in American History when even the most renowned black singer of her day had to fight against racism for the respect she deserved.  Running through February 20, as with most shows at Westcoast, tickets will hard to come by. For performance schedule and to purchase tickets please click here.

FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE subscribers are getting first crack at tickets for their limited engagement run of My Name is Asher Lev, playing March 9-27 in the Keating Theatre.  Based on the best-selling novel, The Chosen, this new American play tells the story of a boy prodigy who beats the odds to become a painter at the total disdain of family and friends.  This is a wonderful addition to their season.  Subscribers have until Friday to purchase tickets.  I presume general public tickets go on sale the following day.

Two movies I have seen recently are up for a slew of awards at this year's GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS.  The Big Short, with an all-star cast including producer Brad Pitt, and nominee Steve Carell, recounts  the housing and credit collapse in 2008 and Creed, Sylvester Stallone's follow up to his very successful Rocky movies of the 70's and 80's.  Hard to believe that after all these years, the follow-up is as good as original.  Easily the best boxing movie in years. Starring Michael B. Jordan in a career making role with Stallone in an award winning support performance. 

These are only two of the several movies and television programs nominated for GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS for 2015 performances and programs.  This awards show is strictly that, with the entertainment provided by Ricky Gervais, an unpredictable host who says outlandish things. Some get aired while others are bleeped during the 7 second delay. 

Presenters are most of the nominees including Stallone, Lawrence, Mirren, DeNiro, and Hanks.  If you love movies and television then you will surely be watching Sunday night.  For those of you who  read JimKnowsSarasota during the week and miss the program, ON-DEMAND will have all week, including commercials for those of us who tape rather than catch later.

The 4th Annual SARASOTA Winter Fine Arts Festival is this coming weekend, January 16 &17 10:AM-5PM Main Street and Gulfstream Avenue.   As with all downtown Festival events, admission is free.  This is a smaller show than normal, but high quality crafts, art and jewelery.

If you  travel to Main St. and beyond  downtown SARASOTA, and park in either the Palm Avenue or State Street parking garages, your time is now being limited.  It was announced last week that beginning immediately you will be allowed 2 hours on the bottom floors and 4 hours on the top floors. It is my understanding these rules are enforced daily and NOT on weekends.  I have seen signs at State St. garage making no exceptions for weekends.  Violators risk a $25 fine.  How long this lasts is any one's guess, but mine is it will be longer than the ill-advised parking meters of a few years ago.

I recently had the opportunity to dine at restaurants reviewed a few years ago.  Happily, I can report all are doing well, have maintained their high quality standard, and are always crowded.  A good sign even on off-nights. One this week, more next.

A restaurant that easily stood out is PHO CALI , SARASOTA'S most consistent if not best Vietnamese restaurant open again and doing big business.  After all the construction, it is hard to tell the new place from the old, but one thing that hasn't changed is the menu, quality of product and reasonable prices.  So what if you have to wait a few minutes?  It is well worth it, and I am hard-pressed to come up with a better value on Main St.......well maybe SOL MEYERS......just kidding!!!! Open for lunch and dinner click here for menu. I've never carried out, but I assume they are equally efficient in that department.

JIM'S RANT....A recent letter to the editor in our Herald bemoaned the traffic being created by improvements to University Blvd. and exit and entrance to I75.  The writer further criticized the many shopping venues in that area along with the "necessity" of the Nathan Benderson Rowing Facility.  It is unfortunate that many more share his feelings.  Traffic is a problem in most cities, but we have grown so fast here it seems worse than back home.  And commerce is a way of life, while attractions such as the rowing center go a long way creating jobs and revenue.....

Welcome back Tracy from your all too brief holiday vacation.  Looking forward to the future, and with that in mind, please  read the information for PEDAL FOR PUPS 3/6/16.  Enrolling for the event is happening now!!!  Hope you can make it....JIM