Tuesday, January 31, 2017




 If you haven't been in awhile, Monday is the PERFECT day to visit The Ringling/The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art.  Located 5401 Bay Shore Road, it is easily accessible from wherever you live or are staying; and Monday is FREE day at Museum of Art; though you will have to pay to visit other attractions.

We went a few Monday's ago.  The parking lot was full when we arrived before noon.  After a few circles we found a space and walked into the building.  To our surprise, wrist bands had been eliminated for Monday.  Instead we were greeted by a volunteer who checked off our zip code, and we breezed in.

Their current Gallery of Contemporary Art exhibit is Pathless Woods; an interactive, multi-media installation in which the visitor is invited to walk through a forest of ribbons.  Hard to describe here, but be prepared for lights, music and video as you walk your way through those ribbons.  Worth the trip; even if you have to pay.

Open daily 10:00AM-5:00PM.  Admission includes tram service available with stops located throughout the property. 

Just breaking!!! It was announced this week, the Ringling Museum is teaming up with Feld Entertainment, yes that one from recently shuttered circus, to produce its Summer Circus Spectacular at the Historic Asolo Theatre.  Always a sell-out, this year's show is destined for the same fate.  Stay tuned.

While in the area, you're not far from a familiar name among Sarasota restaurants: Captain Brian's Restaurant and Seafood Market.  Fresh fish arrives daily to eat in or take home.  Along with the one of the region's best  salad bars, Brian now offers a full bar to go along with their beer and wine favorites.  Conveniently located 8421 N. Tamiami Trail.
There is usually a wait at busy dinner hours; however, we took advantage of a not too well known policy of accepting reservations for parties of 6 or more.   As you can guess from picture, all of us were happy with dinner. PLUS, even in a crowded dining room, you could actually her the person across from you.

 My Romeo group had lunch this week at State Street, located 1533We ate in back room which can seat at least 12 comfortably.  Not much has changed since opening in 2013;  well there was a management change, but one would never know it from menu or quality of food.  We had various salads and sandwiches which were all very good.  Their Farmers Market Bloody Mary is excellent, as was the service.

One negative, which has been consistent since opening nearly four years ago is the up-charge for items which I feel should be included.  For instance, their side of Rustic Bread & Flat Bread with "pink sea Salt" is $3!  There is no other bread available.  I cannot recall another restaurant in Sarasota that doesn't offer bread at your table.  In addition, their side of coleslaw is minuscule. When asked, the waiter stated there would be a slight additional charge for another one.  Ridiculous.  However, I still recommend State Street.

Open Tuesday-Saturday lunch and dinner.  Saturday and Sunday for brunch; though a warning about Saturday.  They are extremely busy due to proximity of Farmer's Market.  If you haven't been there recently a lounge has been added and is open daily 4:30-close.  This is a good alternative to Boca;  which has a much younger appeal.   

Letters, I get Letters....Marlene M.  writes"...went to FST today.  Acting excellent.  Story line so true.  Lots of back flash.  I liked it, but didn't love it.  Gary didn't like it."(Brownsville Song)

Jane H. writes..." On your review of CPK, I have to disagree with you.  The service was very good, friendly and caring, but our food was not up to par.  Neither of us cared to finish what we ordered.  Pea soup had no taste.  The food was lacking in flavor.  Manager gave us a small pizza which was delicious.  Need to rethink new menu..." 

Going to a movie this weekend or during the week?  Then, I urge you to see an excellent Michael Keaton playing the role of  McDonald's presumed founder Ray Kroc.  You will learn, as I  did,  Kroc's fascinating life from door to door salesman to owner of one of America's first franchise success stories.  Though slow at first, the story is so compelling I was disappointed to see The Founder end.


If you weren't paying attention Tuesday,  Phil saw his shadow!! Tradition tells us we will have six more weeks of winter.  However, it should be pointed out Phil's forecasting skills are not always reliable.  His accuracy is about the same as flipping a coin.  In the past 28 years, he has been correct 13 times.  You do the math.

JIM'S RANT....A member of my illustrious Romeo group provides me with a rant this week.  It has nothing to do with traffic, weather or the rudeness of people these days.  It has to do with FOODLarry C wonders not why so many restaurants offer gluten free options; but why so few offer diabetic options, which has more in that category than the other.  Could it be one is trendier at the moment????

Larry's wife Jan is also a contributor this week.  She heard Amore Restaurant is closing its Longboat location on 5/31 and moving either to Circle or Downtown.  More in coming months.

If Phil lived in Sarasota he would not have been able to get out from under his shadow this past week.   A spectacular preview of what SPRING is going to bring.  Until next week.....JIM

Saturday, January 28, 2017

JANUARY 29,2017


Tradition tells us if Puxsutawney Phil sees his shadow on Thursday, winter hangs around for 6 more weeks.  BUT, if it's cloudy, SPRING is on the way.  For those of us in SARASOTA, Spring arrives with the ORIOLES in a few weeks.  

Still time to see SARASOLO today(Sunday) and next Friday, Saturday and Sunday

Not quite a mic drop, but the area's only Festival featuring original one-person plays and musical productions is happening now!!  In its third season, Sarasolo is presenting 20 presentations over the next two weekends.  You still have time today (Sunday 1/29) as performances  begin at 1p.m., with the last one at 9:30p.m.

Next weekend's shows start Friday and conclude Sunday with friend, Jan Wallace's one-woman show, Shirley and Me.  In the mid-nineties, Jan performed her one-woman play Shirley Valentine at the Harold Clurman Theatre on 42ndStreet/New York.  In this new production, Jan relives the experience of playing Shirley Valentine, how it affected her,  and continues to inspire her.

All performances are at the Crocker Memorial Church, Pioneer Park, 1260 12th Street, Sarasota.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or by clicking here. This web-site will give you additional information about Jan's performance, as well as all remaining performances.  

This year's Academy Award nominations are out.  By now, most of you are aware, my favorite, LaLa Land garnered 14;  including Best Picture.  

Along with 8 other nominated films, this is the most diverse list I can ever remember.   Even Mel Gibson's Hacksaw Ridge received a nomination for film and director.  However, none of the 9 are of blockbuster status; though LaLa, Hidden Figures and Arrival have topped $100Million.

The annual Oscar telecast is again on ABC with late-night star, Jimmie Kimmel as host.  Mark you calendars for February 26,  7pm.  

As reported last week, California Pizza Kitchen opened its first Sarasota location on Monday.  Of course, Roberta and I along with Debbie and Mark were among the first that night.  For those of you who have never been to one of their of their  locations, you are in for a treat. 

 Much more than pizza and  flat bread;  choose from salads of several varieties, soup as good as it gets, appetizers, sandwiches, pasta and entrees including planked salmon and fire-grilled steak.

Marlene and Gary also went for dinner and write.."really nice modern decor.  Service good.  Best flat bread ever.  Ten minute wait.  They had their act together even though just opened."

Serving  lunch and dinner in their Cattleman Rd. location across UTC. 

The latest FST production,  brownsville song (b-side for tray) is a dramatization of an unfortunate  daily occurrence playing out across the country.  The ensemble cast gathered for this production are so into their roles, they will have you believing what is actually happening on stage is really happening.  

This is a tough show to recommend.  Friends saw opening night, and were disappointed.   If you have season  tickets, by all means, go!!  If not, read a synopsis and then make your own decision.; it's here through March 26. 

Who can forget this Harry/Sally scene?
Those of us who had the pleasure of seeing a real comic genius this week will be talking about BILLY CRYSTAL's two and a half hour non-stop presentation for quite awhile.  One of the better  Van Wezel presentations.  Wade Tatangelo, writing in Sarasota Herald Tribune agrees.

 JIM'S RANT....This past week, Chris Anderson also writing in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, predicted the "end of baseball"  Is he nuts???  Baseball has always been America's sport.  Sure, games take several hours from first pitch to last, but no other sport has a tenth of the managerial strategy of baseball.  Three hours is the norm, but NFL Football, with several commercial breaks now takes 4 hours to complete a game.........

Have a great week.  Until next week......JIM

Saturday, January 21, 2017

JANUARY 22, 2017


The all new 2017 version of Circus Sarasota features the incomparable Nik Wallenda.  Always a treat as he walks above the crowd; so close at this one that you can almost reach out to touch him.  But there is much more to this show than Wallenda.  Acts from all over the world are recruited each year helping to make this an event not to be missed.

Playing from Sunday February 10 to Sunday March 5 tickets are on sale now.  Priced reasonably from $15-55 including a 20% OFF Opening Weekend Tickets.  If you are interested in going, I suggest you order here or call 941-355-9805.  Last year's show sold out WITHOUT Wallenda.  Need I say more?

This year's show comes at a time of angst for circus lovers,  coming on the heels of  last week's announcement of the demise of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus after a 146 year run.  Many newspaper articles and television features on what has been a great run for Ringling,  long associated with Sarasota.
Welcome To My Restaurant Section

Picked the wrong day to go to Columbia restaurant;  but even with MLK holiday and beach traffic made the trip from 75 to Circle easily.  As you can imagine, they were packed for lunch.  A table was found quickly. 

We all had their Cuban black bean soup.  Served over rice, it is one of the most outstanding soups anywhere.  We almost never eat bread, but their baked-on-the spot bread roll served hot out of the oven is irresistible.  We barely left room for half a portion of Columbia's Original "1905 salad."  Created table side by your server, with either turkey, ham, or both.  It is delicious.  A casual restaurant where you can come in a bathing suit for all they care.  Reasonably priced as well.

Did not save room for dessert, but their key-lime pie is really good.  Open for lunch and dinner and accepting reservations for either meal at 941-388-3987 or click here for on-line reservation and menu.

My Romeo group frequently meets at Gecko's Southside Location.  Neighbor Jack Klopstad and I go several times a year to their Fruitville & Cattleman location.  Hard to tell them apart except for decor.  For a sports bar or grill & pub or casual dining,  I'd be hard pressed to come up with a chain as consistent as Gecko's.

I have yet to finish one of their outstanding salads.  But don't stop there as their wraps,  sandwiches and  burgers are huge  portions along with side of cole slaw and french fries.

With six locations throughout Sarasota, I'm sure you can find one close to you.  Open for lunch, dinner and late night and every sporting event imaginable on their several big-screen television sets scattered around the dinning areas.  For list of area locations and menus, click here.


Now open, and thriving!!  California Pizza Kitchen, 192 Cattleman Drive,  right in front of UTC.

Their parking lot was full the three times I drove by last week.

Last  week's Fine Arts Show in downtown Sarasota was superior to most shows we'll see this winter.  However, maybe the best of show is NEXT weekend when we celebrate the 14th annual St. Armands Circle Art Festival.  Enjoy works from the nation's best talent, long-time Festival favorites, along with the newest names on the contemporary art scene.  On display will be one of a kind jewelry, pottery, paintings, and much much more.

Not only will you run into friends and neighbors, but if you are not impatient, put your name on a list at one of the many restaurants on and off the circle.  You can even take my advice from above and visit Columbia.  You can't miss it; right across street from  Festival.   See you there.

A major Broadway and movie superstar is coming to Sarasota the end of May.  Idina Menzel, known primarily for her role in Broadway's enormously successful Wicked, will be touring as a recording artist and Van Wezel is one of her first stops.  The show is Saturday May 27 8:00 pm.  Tickets go on sale Friday.  Sometime Friday, call  941-053-3368 or you can click here to order those tickets on line. Binocular seats are $61, and go up from there to $186. 

Tickets will be available at their box office beginning at 10am Friday.

JIM'S RANT.......who can rant after a glorious week in January.  Sunny days and temperatures in the high 70's to 80's.  I'll have plenty to rant about next week when we hit low's in the 50's.  Until then enjoy.....

In response to last week's rant re: drivers not paying attention to yellow caution light, Joan Haring writes "I was hit last Feb. at Circus and Beneva by a driver who ran a red light.  The same thing happened to a fellow bridge player, Barbara Tabar at the light by Publix and Beneva this December.  Awful....."
Could not agree more....JIM

Saturday, January 14, 2017



So designated a Federal Holiday celebrating the life and achievements of MLK, one of this country's most influential Civil Rights Leaders.  Most of us are old enough to remember his great oration as he campaigned tirelessly around the country to end racial segregation in public schools, restaurants and public transport.  

I remember many of his speeches; some to throngs of hundreds of thousands.  I also sadly remember his being shot to death in Memphis.  It was a time of great political unrest. 

I remember Bobby Kennedy having to tell a rally in Indianapolis about this tragic event, and urging the crowd  to go home and pray for our country. Kennedy was to suffer the same fate while campaigning in California.

We should all take a moment Monday to remember one of our greatest fallen leaders. 

TODAY (Sunday 1/15) is the 9th Annual Jewish Food Festival!  Temple Sinai 4631 S. Lockwood Ridge Rd. For those of you unfamiliar with their location, it is just off Proctor Road near Sarasota Technical College.   Doors open at 9:30am and will close at 3:30pm. 

 This event has grown in size and stature with all sorts of Jewish delicacies.  From kosher hot dogs to corned beef to pastrami, I'm sure you'll find enough deli for lunch or dinner.  As in past years, Temple Sinai is partnering with All Faiths Food Bank, and encourages all attending to bring a food or cash contribution. For a complete list of food available as well as other information please click here.


Coverage begins on most channels at 9am with swearing in scheduled for around noon.  This could be the most watched Inauguration with so much controversy surrounding his election and those attending and not attending.

Trump's first press conference in several months only added fuel to the fire along with his flirtation of Putin and Russia.  And who can forget one of the best Bond movies of all time???

Sir Elton John
Some of you will be going to the first pops concert of the year  Friday or Saturday.  If you don't have tickets, you could be missing the best program of the season. 

THE  ELTON JOHN Tribute will feature Broadway talent Michael Cavanaugh; who  was piano/lead vocal in the Billy Joel musical Movin Out.  His three years in that role earned him  both Grammy and Tony nominations in 2003.  Andrew Lane conducts the Sarasota Orchestra.

 Bennie and the Jets, Candle in The Wind, Tiny Dancer and Pinball Wizard will be performed.
Michael Cavanaugh: Now and Then
  Surely, Joel will be included along with others from Elton's era.  To order tickets NOW on line click here. Performances are Friday 8:30 and Saturday 2:30 and 8:30.  


Lucky the Pelican!!!
This time of year eating out can cause long wait time at the area's most popular restaurants.   Try eating at a restaurant not taking  reservations or call-ahead. 

Though Lucky Pelican in Lakewood Ranch is not accepting reservations; they are now accepting a unique form of call ahead.  I tested it a few days ago; it was perfect!!

You must have a cell phone.  Add LUCKY PELICAN (all caps) 941-479-2489
Text the above number when you are leaving home or on the way to restaurant
You will get a  text back by QLess-Lucky Pelican Bistro! (A national software program, new to Sarasota, designed to eliminate long lines at restaurants).

At that point you will asked how many in party; which line you would like to join; name.
After all that you'll be given a wait time..#of minutes...along with number of  parties ahead of you.    And if something happens on the way to restaurant causing a delay you can text and move further back of line......That's It!! 

Letters, I get letters
Last week's blog featured an article on Sunday's Golden Globe Awards and my choice of LA LA LAND for best comedy or musical.  Not only did it win that award, but SIX(6) others, including music and acting.  Many of you disagreed with me and continue to disagree about the entertainment value of the movie.  I asked for email both pro and con, and received several.

Among those who agreed with me,  fraternity brother, Arny Gilberg,  stated: " I agree about La La Land-a love story with problems",  friend Arnie Rubenstein "We too loved La La Land" and one who definitely did not, Dr. Irwin Becker, who states "I am one of those who was disappointed with La La Land.  They were not Fred and Ginger."

No more on this movie until next month when Academy Awards, I predict, will anoint  them with 
Best Picture.  

If SPRING TRAINING is on your to do list then head to Ed Smith Stadium beginning 1/21.  Baltimore Orioles tickets go on sale at 10:00 am.

JIM'S RANT......A few weeks ago good friends Sandy and Michael Mesirov along with another couple were in an auto accident.  Decelerating at a traffic light turning from green to yellow they were tailed by a driver not paying attention.  Fortunately they walked away intact.  They bear witness to what I've been ranting about forever...too many drivers speeding and unable to stop at yellow light......


 Until next week........JIM


Saturday, January 7, 2017



After an abysmal Bowl season it finally comes down to a re-match of the 2016 game won by Alabama 45-40.  With the exception of an exiting Rose Bowl, most of the games leading up to this one have been one-sided with low viewership and sparse attendance. 

 Not a problem Monday as Raymond James Stadium in Tampa is sold out with several out of town  attendees staying in Sarasota.  If you don't have a ticket, ESPN begins its telecast at 8:00 pm, but if you are really into this one, they  promise day-long coverage right from several Tampa locations.

SUNDAY 7pm NBC,  the 74th annual GOLDEN GLOBES begins a two month countdown to the ACADEMY AWARDS.  Both movie and television programs are honored along with categories Best Drama and Best Musical or Comedy for both.  The telecast is "live" and  most in the audience will be  drinking throughout the 3 plus tedious hours of awards with zero entertainment.

I am not going to list every nominee, but want to tell you my favorite for at least Best Musical or Comedy.  It is LA LA LAND!!!  Many of you who saw the movie at Royal Palm did not like it at all.   However, just got off the phone with Roberta Fox who along with Bruce "loved" the movie.  Others also agree with my assessment of the movie.

 I thought it was ingenious, made me smile throughout, well acted and  captured the essence of what Hollywood musicals use to be.  This independent release was made on a shoe string budget, as were several of the Best Drama nominees.

Watch for  Emma Stone to win best in that  category.  To me she was totally believable in her characterization.  Ryan Gossling will also win, but will be hard-pressed by Casey Affleck  at Academy Award time.

After reading this, I should get allot of feedback from most of you who disagree with me.  Email me, and I will use your comments  next week along with mine about the program.

Looking for something different the next few weeks??   Why not take a drive to Palmetto for the 101st. annual Manatee County Fair.  Located at 1402 14th Ave. West, the Fair begins Thursday and runs every day through 1/22.  A showcase for the best of Manatee County.  Featuring exciting exhibits, a thrill packed midway, a variety of great entertainment and of course fair food-all packed into ten days and nights.   For a schedule of daily entertainment click here.

The first big-name entertainer is Friday when  Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder presents an evening concert under the stars.  Bring a blanket, lawn chair, or stand and move to their country music.  If you go, please send me a review. 

If you don't feel like traveling  to Palmetto  you can wait for  Sarasota's 87th annual  County Fair March 17-26 at a much more convenient location; Ringling Blvd. and Fruitville Rd.  More on this one in a few months.

I am excited to bring a new restaurant to your attention this week.  Discovered by George Armstrong, owner of the highly successful Rosemary.  His comment to me as a competitive owner, "this was one of the best  meals ever had here." 

enRich Bistro Local Farm Salad
en RICH BISTRO  5629 Manatee Avenue W 941-792-0990.  Not a stand alone, but in a strip mall along Manatee Avenue.   Open Tues-Fri 11am-9:30pm and Saturday 5-9:30 pm.  Reservations accepted.  For their outstanding menu click here. Once there, I challenge you to find at least a dozen if not more items to order on your first visit.

 IT'S MY HEART, a non-profit organization that supports babies and families of children born with congenital heart defects is having a fundraiser and book signing next Saturday  the 14tn.  Author of several books dedicated to each of her 11 grandchildren, Kathleen J. Wihelm will be there with her 6th book in the series.

For reservations to the noon luncheon and signing at Heritage Oaks Golf & Country Club call 941-926-7602.

JIM'S RANT.... In an attempt to elevate the traffic congestion on Longboat and North a water taxi service is being proposed for Anna Maria Island to Sarasota.  Good first step, but even before the taxi, a fix is needed badly for Circle congestion.  One idea is to have police at some intersections during peak times.  Could have used some during past two weeks when it took more than an hour to cross the bridge...a continuing and GROWING problem....

Another week bites the dust...see you next week...JIM