The first showed up on May 26th in the form of a post from Creative Loafing Food Writer, Brian Ries. Two downtown Sarasota restaurants were shutting their doors.
The newly opened Urban Reef and the newly re-branded Main Street Oyster Bar (formerly Zoria). I guess they just didnt catch on.
The next notice arrived on May 27th, this one more surprising than the first. The two story, St Armands eatery Cork, was calling it quits too. That one will leave a big hole on the circle.
Whats going on in our local Sarasota restaurant community?
Way back when (in the summer of 2008), there was a pretty big wave of restaurant closings. But, since the initial burst it seemed like things were leveling off a bit. Back in 2008, everyone was jumping on the we have to save our local restaurants band wagon. What about now? Does anybody really care or have we become so used to the headlines in the local press that we dont really see them anymore?
One of the things that comes into play, at least in my mind, are the choices. Yes, choices. We have tons. By some counts there are more than 300 locally owned and operated restaurant in the Sarasota area. Thats a lot of choices. Especially, when you consider that these numbers do not include one single Olive Garden, Chilis or Applebees. And, as hard as it may seem for some people to believe, an occasional Steakburger or Grand Slam Breakfast is eaten by more than a few of us. So the real number of Sarasota restaurants in much higher than 300.
When you have 300 plus places to dine the loss of a few seems inconsequential (unless its your favorite place). Its just a part of the natural selection process, right? The strong survive and the weak get weeded out from a crowded field. Shouldnt be a bad thing and in theory it should make the rest of the dining community that much stronger. Then why does it feel so bad when a place youve know for years shuts down?
Maybe we feel a little guilty that we didnt do more to support our favorites while we had the chance. Its like a death in the family. Gee, I only wish I would have told Uncle Frank how much I loved his accordion playing, then BAM, its too late. No more favorite sandwich, say goodbye to that salad I used to order and so long prix fixe pricing. You should have said it while they were alive.
But, wait, theres still hope. We have tons of great restaurants still left that are ready, willing and able to roll out the red carpet for you. And, to make your life just a little easier here a list of some new ones that have opened that you can show a little love.
So, lets not wait around for the next restaurant to fall. Lets support the ones that are here now and ready to serve you. Remember Uncle Frank. Dont starting whining after the accordion playing stops.
(OK, Im putting my soapbox away now)