SRQ Magazine | April 2024, Best of SRQ Local

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SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE ~ PLATINUM WINNER
SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE GOLD WINNER 2024 2024 SRQ local SRQ MAGAZINE~ BRONZE WINNER 2024 Bestof SRQ local ~ SRQ MAGAZINE BRONZE WINNER 2024 Bestof

the best of srq local era 54

Readers set epic records for this 2024 Best of SRQ Local Competition with 177,056 votes pouring in with quotes about their hometown favorites. The results are in and there are plenty of folks around town who can now officially call themselves The Lucky One. You spoke up, and we listened. From brunch to burgers and pedicures to politicians, BOSRQ Local is back with a brand-new batch of the region’s finest fare, favorite services, most sought-after places and beloved businesses—a grand tally, thanks to all your voting. And now we are happy to present you with the tried and true, the new voices and the rising nominees of this year’s competition. This time around, we’ve themed the competition around Taylor Swift’s Eras—a celebration of one of America’s most favorite pop icons. The talent and popularity–combined with the entrepreneurs, designers, restaurateurs, physicians and specialists listed on the following pages–continue to put our region on the map, proving that earth shattering and eclectic aren’t just for the big cities. These winners had a Swift rise to the top. Follow in your fellow Sarasotans footsteps and tour the town with their favorites. Trust us, they know the best of the best All Too Well.

April 2024
Contents
SRQ
| WRITTEN BY ARIEL CHATES | PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN
PRODUCED BY
MEDIA

15 ARCHITECT’S PORTFOLIO

MHK ARCHITECTURE

37 ROCKETKIDS’ FEATURED SUMMER CAMP EXPERIENCES

STATE COLLEGE OF FLORIDA ASOLO REPERTORY THEATRE MOTE MARINE LABORATORY AND AQUARIUM BOYS AND GIRLS CLUBS OF SARASOTA AND DESOTO COUNTIES

FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE

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Sarasota’s spirit of elegance shines through The Ora, a new premier event venue. New owners Raffaele Perna and Nicholas Perdue along with Managing Partner Kaye Warr are restoring Rose & Ivy in the I.R. Burns and H.H. Bell Commercial Building to its 1920s glory. After 25 years at Emma E. Booker Elementary School, fifth-grade teacher Ronnique Major was named the 2024 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year. Discover the origin story of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, which champions local restaurants across the community. During a sold-out lecture, part of the Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall series, Liz Cheney discussed Trump’s contin-

ued involvement in U.S. politics and her new book, Oath and Honor

culture city 43

La Musica Chamber Music Festival continues to bring some of chamber music’s best to Sarasota. A collection of paintings from the Florida Highwaymen is on display at City Hall in an effort to illuminate all of Florida’s past.

forage 51

Bistro blends food and art at the Sarasota Art Museum.

giving coast 150

With five branches throughout Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton, Liberty Savings Bank is committed to serving the local community.

last flight 152

Mark Sherwin shares a bit about himself in our latest Last Flight feature, giving us a glimpse into the life of the newest general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.

contents
april 2024 12 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local
Cover: The Era of Best of SRQ Local, inspired by Platinum-Album performer Taylor Swift, photo by Wyatt Kostygan. Previous page: BOSRQ Platinum Award-winning Avocado Toast from Hamlet’s Eatery, photo by Wyatt Kostygan. This page: The Perfect Trio from Rose & Ivy; Sarasota County Schools Teacher of the Year Ronnique Major; The Ora, photography by Wyatt Kostygan.

APRIL 2024

CEO / PRESIDENT / EDITOR IN CHIEF LISL LIANG

EXECUTIVE PUBLISHER WES ROBERTS

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ACCOUNTS + CLIENT SERVICE AND DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR

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CLIENT MARKETING+ DIGITAL PROGRAMS MANAGER

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CONTRIBUTING ART DIRECTOR + SENIOR DESIGNER

Virginia Jankovsky

EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES

Dylan Campbell

Laura Paquette

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS + ARTISTS

Andrew Fabian, Kari King, Phil Lederer, Chris Leverett, Jacob Ogles, Kate Wight

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PUTTING THE PIECES TOGETHER

“I’ve always loved Jenga,” says Mark McLean. “I feel like architecture is just one giant Jenga game and it’s methodical for me to think about it that way.”

MCLEAN IS THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE SARASOTA/ FLORIDA OFFICES OF MHK ARCHITECTURE. FOUNDED BY MATTHEW KRAGH, AIA. MHK Architecture is a boutique firm specializing in luxury design in both residential and commercial spaces. Kragh opened his first office in Naples in 2009. Since then, MHK Architecture has gone on to open offices throughout South Florida in locales including Islamorada, Palm Beach, Sarasota and Sanibel Island. The firm also has studio locations in Colorado and the Carolinas.

FIRM // MHK ARCHITECTS CONTENT WRITER // Kate Wight FEATURED PROJECT | SUNSET BEACH, SIESTA KEY, SARASOTA, FL — ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN FIRM MHK ARCHITECTURE; BUILDER BCBE; INTERIOR DESIGNER INSIDE EYE DESIGN; AND LANDSCAPE DESIGN DWJA LANDCAPE ARCHITECTS ABOVE LEFT SUNSET BEACH, SIESTA KEY, SARASOTA: PENTHOUSE 1 – LIVING, DINING AND KITCHEN
”We want to keep the human relationship central in all our design. We are committed to the historic craft and practice of architecture.”
—Mitch Lehde, MHK Architects

MARK, MITCH AND NATHAN HAVE WORKED ON NUMEROUS PROJECTS FOR MHK ARCHITECTURE INCLUDING MARINAS, HOTELS, MULTI-FAMILY PROJECTS AND AN FBO JET CENTER. One of the current projects is Sunset Beach, a four-story luxury condo building on the Sunset Key. Sunset Beach is a 2-acre strip of white sands on the gulf that is already home to some high-end condo developments and luxury homes. Mark and his team had to figure out how to make sure Sunset Beach fit into the existing landscape while still maintaining its own distinct identity. “Siesta Key is a unique community. A lot has been done for their streetscape and they wanted to promote this walkable neighborhood,” Mark says. “They have their own set of regulations for landscaping and we really wanted to embrace that and celebrate it. We pushed the drive entrances off to the back so that as you’re walking around, you get this continuous beach feel.”

While Mark was conscious that the exterior needed to appeal to all of the neighborhood residents, he also wanted to make sure to maximize the interior aesthetic for the future residents. The team used a drone to photograph every possible view for every single unit so they could ensure that residents could enjoy incredible views. “Our original project, and what we strived for in this entire design process was capturing these views throughout the building,” Mark says. “We wanted to see the gulf from every vantage point. ‘If I’m standing in the bedroom, what do I see? What do I see from the living room and the kitchen?’ We were strategic about window placement, and slider and balcony placement. We’re on the water and we are capturing water views. We want to make sure that we’re giving the people that will eventually buy the feeling that they’re living in luxury on the beach.”

“The oversized units have a contemporary edge to them with the team collaborating together on the design direction. Which allowed the design to have harmonious coastal and modern elements,” says Mitch. The attention to detail, careful consideration of landscape and the design process shows in the design.”

FEATURED PROJECT | SUNSET BEACH, SIESTA KEY SARASOTA FL— ABOVE LEFT PRIMARY BEDROOM RIGHT LIVING AREA AND PRIMARY BATHROOM

MHK Architecture also brought in an interior designer to make sure the finishes were as stunning as the views and to create a space that was simultaneously elegant and livable.

“We take the idea and design of residential living and bring it to condo living allowing the residents to feel like they are living in their own home but with all the amenities of a resort,” says Mark.

“Beachfront property in Sarasota is some of the most spectacular in the world, which makes this a really desirable location,” says Mark. “Our main design challenges were maintaining oversized terraces for every unit with direct Gulf views and designing spacious living and entertaining areas while maintaining private and relaxed spaces.

ARCHITECT’S PROFILE

ARCHITECT’S PROFILE

LIKE MHK ARCHITECTURE, MARK HAS HISTORY IN SOUTH FLORIDA.

After growing up in Pittsburgh, PA Mark joined the Marines. After he served, he studied architecture and design and is a strong advocate for the New Urbanism movement which emphasizes walkability and mixed land use to create vibrant, socially-engaging neighborhoods. Mark collaborates with his two national partners Mitch Lehde and Nathan Moore.

In school, Mark learned he had a particular affinity for mixed-use projects. Designing a mixed-use project involves integrating multiple functions–such as residential, commercial, and recreational–within a single building or development. This requires architects to creatively solve spatial, functional, and logistical puzzles to ensure that different uses coexist harmoniously while optimizing the efficiency and usability of the space. Much like playing Jenga, architects must carefully consider how various elements fit together, anticipate potential conflicts between different uses, and find innovative design solutions to achieve a cohesive and successful outcome. “The interesting challenge with mixed-use is that you’re stacking all of these different occupants on top of each other and they all have their own needs, whether it’s egress or mechanical systems or structural systems,” Mark says. “If you are working on a rooftop pool–you have to support it, and now you’re impeding into another place below with this massive structure. You have to separate all the spaces and make them able to function properly in their own right but they also need to route around each other. It’s a big challenge because you’ve got things going into other spaces where they may not fit, but you have to figure out how to make it work.” Mitch shares, “The oversized units have a contemporary edge to them with the team collaborating together on the design direction. Which allowed the design to have harmonious coastal and modern elements. The attention to detail, careful consideration of landscape and the design process shows in the design.”

MARK, MITCH AND NATHAN WORK CLOSELY TOGETHER TO SUPPORT THE MHK VISION. “We want to keep the human relationship central in all our design,” says Mitch. “We are committed to the historic craft and practice of architecture.” At MHK we design for the way people live, work and play. Sarasota and all of Southwest Florida are among some of the best locations in the world. WIth MHK’s ability to design blending sophistication into a beach setting, our projects always encompass the Southwest Florida lifestyle. “The collaborative atmosphere at MHK is what sets us apart from other firms” says Nathan. “We have staff throughout the US and yet work together on different projects seamlessly.” Mark shares, “We’ve really grown together as a community. Across our offices, we’re able to share the workload of staff and projects and really lean on each other and work together to give our best to our clients wherever they may be located.

MHK Architecture

300 S. Orange Avenue

Sarasota, FL 34236

Office: 941-271-4408

mhkarchitecture.com

FEATURED PROJECT | SUNSET BEACH, SIESTA KEY SARASOTA FL— ABOVE Penthouse: Living, Dining, Kitchen.

VERSATILE VENUE

The Ora, Sarasota’s new event venue, sets the scene for Gulf Coast galas and gatherings. Laura Paquette

STORIES ABOUT THE LOCAL PEOPLE, PLACES AND EXPERIENCES THAT DEFINE OUR HOMETOWN PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN. srq magazine_ APR24 live local | 21
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SARASOTA IS SYNONYMOUS WITH CULTURE, ELEGANCE AND LUXURY. As more people discover the city’s secret, the need has grown for a grand establishment that epitomizes this distinguished spirit. Enter The Ora, a 30,000-square-foot premier event venue. “The idea for The Ora started about three to four years ago when the board of the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, who funded and founded the project, realized what a need there was in Sarasota for a venue like this,” says Deanna McGrath, the director of operations for The Ora. “A lot of the board members had lifecycle events of their own that needed space, and many are on other boards of large companies or foundations in Sarasota and realized how much of a lack there was of venues that can accommodate the size that The Ora can.”

FleischmanGarciaMaslowski Architecture and Tandem Construction helped bring this standalone venue—with five distinct sections and a 3,000-square-foot commercial-grade kitchen occupied by catering partner Michael’s On East—to life. The Ballroom, a 10,000-square-foot space, is The Ora’s crown jewel. “While 10,000 square feet is so desirable, not everyone wants that large of a space. Some people want a venue that can only accommodate 100 to 150 people, so we designed it to be separated into three different sections,” McGrath adds. “Huge airwalls can go across the ballroom and divide it, and there are specific doors that will only allow you to enter the section where you want to go. It’s about as soundproof as you can get, and each section has its own projector and 150-inch screen that drops down for people to use.” Acrylic light sculptures that hang and are lit from the ceiling add an extra touch of sophistication to all three of the room’s compartments.

Another section is the Terrace Room, which can seat about 180 guests and is connected to the Plaza—an outdoor garden space. “You’ll be able to walk out of the Terrace Room onto our Plaza, and we’ll have a courtyard space past that. It will be protected by two large shade sails, which are mostly for sun protection but will also help if the climate gets a little unpredictable,” says McGrath. The impressive Lobby, which can serve as a pre-function space, employs projection mapping by Enlightened Monkey Arts to create an immersive experience. “You can use the projection mapping up on the walls to transform the space into anything you’d like it to be,” she adds. “It’s a moving background, almost like virtual reality.” Like the Lobby, the Gallery lends itself to enhanced flexibility. Able to hold about 100 guests, it is ideal for more intimate events like cocktail hours or high-end dinners. Clients can hang works of art on the walls and use the track lights to spotlight specific areas or objects while dimming the rest of the lights.

While functionality played a key role in The Ora’s design, its aesthetics represent countless hours of deliberation. “We worked with an interior company called FGM, and they have been so helpful in choosing everything from the light art sculptures in the Ballroom to the large light art in the Lobby,” McGrath says, noting that the team spent a great deal of time selecting the carpet, landing on a neutral choice with blues, beiges and a slight silver tone. “Everything is elegant, and that was the tone of the concept throughout the entire plan. It was supposed to be a place for high-end events and people who wanted a luxurious experience,” she adds. “One of the reasons that we partnered with Michael’s On East for catering is that they do the same. They offer an exceptional service, and that’s what The Ora is designed to do.” SRQ

PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.
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Below: Exploring the inspired new interior spaces. The Ora, 578 McIntosh Rd., Sarasota, 941-343-2107, theorasrq.com.

RETURN OF THE ROARING TWENTIES

Under new leadership, Rose & Ivy in the former Azul space is poised for a golden age.

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This spread, left to right: The Perfect Trio sushi roll is a tasty riceless option; the cozy interior at Rose & Ivy. Rose & Ivy, 1296 1st St., Sarasota, 941-343-2122, roseandivysarasota.com.

THE IVY-COVERED I.R. BURNS AND H.H. BELL COMMERCIAL BUILDING IN DOWNTOWN SARASOTA that connects to the opera house has spent the last century watching the city grow. It’s lived many lives, but Co-owners Raffaele Perna and Nicholas Perdue along with Managing Partner Kaye Warr are working to bring back its 1920s character and energy while creating an innovative guest experience. Built sometime in 1925 and owned by businessmen I.R. Burns and H.H. Bell, the building is steeped in local lore, with stints as an antique shop, commercial office, city operations location, various high-end restaurants, and most recently, Azul. As an homage to its history, appearance and location in the theater district, Perna, Perdue and Warr have renamed and rebranded the eatery as Rose & Ivy. “We’re trying to play off the theaters,” says Perna, who is also a co-owner of Clásico Italian Chophouse. “What do they bring the principal performers at the end of an opera or ballet? They always bring roses. And ivy of course, because the building is covered in ivy.” Eagle-eyed guests will spot a stained-glass rose window as they ascend the stairs and neon rose lights in the garden, a fitting tie-in to the new name and branding overhaul.

“Our goal is to restore the building to its real glory, bring some of that history back, and have the community enjoy it,” adds Perna. He describes the space as the perfect trio—with the main dining room on the first floor, a live music and piano bar area, a sushi lounge and private dining room on the second floor and an enchanting outdoor garden. “Rose & Ivy as a whole plans to employ what I call yin and yang service which is embodied by the philosophy that you can have a nice upscale dinner, run upstairs to see a live performance and hang out in the garden until late night enjoying a few cold drinks and a DJ,” Perdue says.

As guests head upstairs, they enter the second-floor dining area, piano bar and sushi lounge. “We were told that back in the day, this was a very busy piano bar, and we’re looking at bringing that vibe back,” Perna adds. The eatery is developing a program that pays tribute to the area’s performing arts culture. Artists like singers or piano players can come and perform upstairs, after which the restaurant will buy them a cocktail or an appetizer.

The second floor also boasts a lovely room with handpainted murals that will again be a private dining area. “This was I.R. Burns and H.H. Bell’s building, but they are rumored to have hosted John Ringling on many occasions, and it’s thought that he used this room as an impromptu office and entertainment space. Very close to substantiated rumor has it that these murals were painted by John Ringling,” says Perna. “There was a historian who came in, and I was told that John Ringling did these murals himself.” A potential self-portrait of Ringling—and his signature, adorn the walls, which also showcase scenes of Sarasota. There are even tales of a now-sealed off passageway connecting the room to the opera house, where during intermission the gentlemen of Sarasota would drink together, then reunite with their wives before the performance ended.

Guests can access the private dining room via the inside staircase or an external one that leads into the Love, Yolanda Ivy Garden, named after Perna’s mother. With a bubbling fountain and plenty of greenery, the garden is destined to become a downtown venue with a retractable roof, projector screen and firepit. Diners will also have the chance to eat al fresco on the new sidewalk patio in front of the restaurant and survey the streets of downtown.

While Perna, Perdue and Warr’s commitment to preserving the building’s history is impressive, their planned transformation of the menu is just as exciting. “We have such a vibrant and diverse local community— we plan on offering a super competitive happy hour program with obviously all the frills of dinner service for those looking for a refined experience. I love to see exotic menus in places that anyone can enjoy, so we’ve priced so that everyone can get a taste of what we’re doing,” Perdue adds. “Early happy hour, dinner and latenight happy hour will be really fun experiences.”

Known for their steak and sushi, Rose & Ivy encompasses a Pan-Asian menu. Chef Wei Huang, Sous Chef Kang Kang, Sous Chef IceMan, Hot Kitchen Chef Carlos Gonzalez, General Manager Nick Jones, Bar Manager Taylor Glenn, Kitchen Manager William Simpson and the fabulous servers and staff are eager to guide guests through the menu. “We looked at national food trends and what we found was that dim sum, Japanese street food and izakaya-style dining was reigning supreme over the trendiest places in the country. It’s a phenomenon in bigger cities, so we wanted to incorporate this inspiration with a vibrant sushi program and incredible steakhouse selections but give Sarasota something it’s never had before. We’ve taken notes from places like San Francisco’s Rintaro, St. Pete’s Hawker’s and New York City’s Bumu for an eclectic small plates menu with exotic choices for everyone,” says Perdue. Expect fresh and innovative sushi, like Strawberry Fields, with tempura sweet potato and asparagus topped with thinly sliced strawberries and avocados, or the Perfect Trio, a rice-less option featuring cucumber filled with tuna, salmon, yellowtail and pickled radish. The filet mignon is tender and juicy and pairs well with the fragrant jasmine rice and crispy Brussels sprouts. For an appetizer or happy hour, savor the “Gaijin” cheeseburger bao buns. The cocktails will also be affordable, keeping diners in good spirits even when it’s not happy hour. “We want to make it somewhere you can go on a Tuesday or your birthday,” Warr adds. “It doesn’t have to be a special occasion; the special occasion is that you came here.” SRQ

PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN srqist
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A CLASS ACT

Students at Emma E. Booker Elementary School feel the love when they walk into Ronnique Major’s fifth-grade classroom. Dylan Campbell

“I GIVE MY KIDS HUGS EVERY DAY WHEN THEY WALK IN THE DOOR AND ALWAYS SAY SOMETHING SPECIAL TO THEM. I was dropping my kids off at music just now and noticed something was off with one little boy,” says Ronnique Major. “I said, ‘Are you okay?’ And he just kind of mumbled his response. I looked at him again and asked, ‘Are you sure you’re okay?’ And he just says, ‘Yeah.’ I know something is wrong and it’s going to bother me all day until he tells me. I’m going to watch him and check in on him.”

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26 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local IMAGES COURTESY OF SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOLS.

My kids. The fifth-graders Major speaks of are not her biological children, but they are her family just the same. Everybody around Major, a fifth-grade teacher at Sarasota’s Emma E. Booker Elementary School, seems to become a part of her larger family. It stems from her love of what she does for her students and their families, for the educators around her and for her own nuclear family. It’s why students she taught in her third-grade class in Maryland in 1995 still reach out to her. And it’s why, in December, after 30 years of teaching (25 at Emma E. Booker), Major was named the 2024 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year. “Ms. Major is passionate about student achievement. For her, it’s not just about teaching academics; it’s ensuring she’s instilling life lessons and cultivating future leaders,” says Cameron Parker, principal of Emma E. Booker Elementary School. “She’s teaching children of past students. So when she makes calls home, the parents know she cares, because she has put the same time and energy into the person on the other end of the line.”

“Teaching is something that I knew I wanted to do from very early on. I love working with children, and I absolutely love what I do each and every day. My parents were teachers. I’ve always been around teachers,” says Major. “I had the best role models, as far as my parents, for what a teacher should be because

they had great relationships with their students. I know it’s one of the main things that keeps me going–building those relationships with my students and their families–because that's what I saw growing up, how my parents related to their students and to their families.”

Major gravitated toward early education for a number of reasons. Sure, junior high and high school seemed “a little too hormonal” for her taste, but it was mostly because of the impact that she can make with her students at a young age. Fifth grade is the end of the line for students at Emma E. Booker; it’s an important pivot point before they head into middle school. Classes will invariably get harder, teachers will likely demand more and hormones will be flying every which way, but for a moment in their academic careers, these students can be safe in Major’s classroom.

“I had such an amazing elementary experience myself and I wanted to make sure that I was able to make that happen for the children I teach. It might not be a schoolwide feeling that they get, but I definitely make sure that, when they step in my room, they feel the love and they feel encouraged with everything that they do,” says Major. “You have to be there in the moment with them. As adults, we all have things that take our minds a million places, but when you’re here with them, you have to be present in that moment.” SRQ

28 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local IMAGES COURTESY OF SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOLS. srqist
Below, left to right: Superintendent of Sarasota County Schools Terrence Connor (left), 2024 Teacher of the Year Ronnique Major and Jennifer Vigne, President and CEO of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County at a ceremony for Majors this past December in Venice.

AS LIZ CHENEY TOURS THE COUNTRY, SHE REGULARLY ASSAILS THE SHIFT IN REPUBLICAN POLITICS IN AMERICA.

The impact of Donald Trump, the last Republican president and the party’s nominee in 2024, realigned the key principles of the modern GOP in ways that left her out of favor with the party. But as she spoke to an audience in Sarasota, the Wyoming Republican made clear she sees worse consequences from Trump’s actions, particularly in the wake of his 2020 loss to Joe Biden.

DRIVEN BY HONOR, SOURED BY DIVISION

Liz Cheney discussed her new book, Oath and Honor as part of the Ringling College Library Association's town hall series. Jacob Ogles

Standing onstage at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, Cheney recalled the stunning testimony from people working in the White House on Jan. 6, 2021–the day Congress was expected to certify the election results. Pro-Trump protesters, after hearing complaints about the integrity of the election for weeks, had gathered in Washington, D.C. Trump, ahead of the day's scheduled events, spoke to supporters at a rally at the White House eclipse, not to calm them down but to rile them up. “He knew that the mob was angry and he knew that the mob was armed. And he sent them to march on the Capitol,” Cheney recalled.

As the former Congresswoman promoted her new book, Oath and Honor, she devoted an inordinate amount of her time to recounting that day’s events and the findings of the Jan. 6 committee, where she was one of two Republicans to serve. Since that time, Cheney lost her seat in Congress in a primary challenge to a Republican supported by Trump and then-Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. Since publishing the book, Cheney’s name has come up as a potential third-party candidate for president.

It's easy to recall, though, that the name Cheney (until fairly recently) seemed synonymous with, even central to, Republican politics in America. It is certainly no distant memory to Cheney. Even before her own entry into politics, she spent years watching her father, Dick Cheney, rotate through important jobs as a chief of staff, Republican congressman and U.S. vice president. She volunteered for years for her father’s Republican campaigns. She watched the recount in Florida in 2000, which decided the

presidential election and made her father vice president. While the outcome was contentious and the fight emotional, it struck her even then when Democrat Al Gore conceded on national television.

“He knew he was disappointed, his supporters were disappointed, but that disappointment had to be overcome by love of country,” she recalled. Over the next few weeks, the Bill Clinton administration transitioned into the George W. Bush administration. As vice president, Gore oversaw the certification of his own defeat, even gaveling down objections at the time to accepting Florida’s slate of electors.

But it’s the words in the concession that Liz Cheney remembered so clearly. Gore had chosen to reach into history for the right quote, seizing on the words of Stephen Douglas (when he lost to Abraham Lincoln at a time of division so deep the presidential election results would arguably prompt the American Civil War). Still, Douglas told supporters, “Partisan feeling must yield to patriotism.” The hurt feelings of the campaign, the sting of defeat–it had all occurred before and would again. But America underwent a peaceful transition of power at the inauguration. That would happen repeatedly for more than a century, Liz Cheney noted. That is, until the end of Trump’s term.

Liz Cheney kicked off the Ringling College Library Association’s Town Hall series this year, which, for decades, has brought world leaders, cultural figures and other prominent figures with worthy books to tout. In recent years, the series took a blow, thanks to the pandemic, which shut down lectures in 2020 (and still failed to sell out seats later, as Sarasota’s audiences

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IMAGE COURTESY OF RINGLING COLLEGE LIBRARY ASSOCIATION.

cameo

remained reluctant to pile into crowded auditoriums). Whether it was that the fear of the virus sufficiently passed or the choice of speaker particularly inspired, Liz Cheney’s speech in January became the first sold-out lecture in the series since the coronavirus first surfaced in a Sarasota hospital.

That’s telling in Sarasota County, where Trump beat Biden in 2020 with nearly 55% of the vote. The greater-than-28,000-vote margin victory in the county helped the Republican win Florida’s electoral votes, making Florida one of just two states in which Trump performed better against Biden than he had against Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. But while Sarasota County once held a reputation as one of Florida’s most closely divided counties politically (in 2008, Barack Obama came within 300 votes of beating John McCain here), it has recently earned more attention for a rightward shift in politics. Rumble, a conservative alternative to YouTube, set up its headquarters in recent years on Longboat Key. And Michael Flynn, Trump’s one-time national security advisor, rather infamously relocated to South Sarasota County and has organized a local political contingent around The Hollow.

That didn’t stop Liz Cheney from calling Flynn out by name partway through her speech. “I will remind everybody, go back and look at an interview that Mike Flynn gave on Dec. 18, 2020, in which he said, with all seriousness, that Donald Trump should deploy the military to seize voting machines and to attempt to rerun the election in swing states,” Liz Cheney said. “And Donald Trump has said he thinks Mike Flynn would be a great national security adviser.”

The slam on the local figure drew gasps in the crowd, but Liz Cheney never faced an angry reception. At least among the ticket-buying crowd at a lecture series put on by an arts college, her political message resonated. But it’s also clear that Liz Cheney remains on the outs with the current Republican mainstream.

Liz Cheney’s visit in Sarasota came the morning after Trump emerged as the clear victor of the Iowa caucuses—the first delegate-awarding contest on the 2024 election cycle. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis

came in a distant second place, without taking any of Iowa’s 99 counties. DeSantis suspended his presidential campaign days later, and Trump went on to defeat Nikki Haley (once his choice as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations) in New Hampshire’s first-in-the nation GOP primary. The former president already appeared on track to secure the nomination by late February, when he defeated Haley in her home state of South Carolina.

Speaking to Sarasota media ahead of her speech, Liz Cheney acknowledged that nobody seemed capable of stopping Trump from winning the 2024 Republican nomination. But she did not know that Trump, even running effectively as a GOP incumbent, won only about half the votes in early states; he won over 51% of Republican caucus-goers in Iowa and 54% of primary voters in New Hampshire.

“I think it tells you that he's beatable, and we've got to beat him. But again, it's going to be, I think, a long, long battle,” she said. “It's going to be a battle all the way until November, I would imagine.”

For the record, Liz Cheney of late has tamped down talks of an independent challenge, at least if it appears her entry in the race would hurt Biden and help Trump. She told the Van Wezel audience that defeating Trump remained her chief concern.

But even if Trump again faces a loss, she is concerned about the state of Congress since her own defeat nearly two years ago. Conservative principles and the rule of law, she fears, have taken a back seat to extremism and a hunger to win arguments instead of reach compromises. Before voting to impeach Trump for the events of Jan. 6, Liz Cheney served in Republican leadership in Congress, as GOP conference chair, though she lost that role well before her electoral defeat. But, at one point, she had a close working relationship with McCarthy. That soured long ago.

“After the 2020 election, Kevin McCarthy was in a position to have done the right thing, to have really led the Republicans away from this dangerous place we found ourselves,” Liz Cheney recalled. “And, of course, he chose not to do that. Instead, he brought

Donald Trump back into the fold.”

Tossing the Liz Cheneys from the party didn’t seem to hurt McCarthy’s political ambitions, at least initially. He led the caucus in 2022 to a majority in the U.S. House, which meant the California Republican ascended to House speaker. But that would be shortlived, as his own members would lead a historic political coup before the end of 2023 and drive McCarthy from the speakership and ultimately from Congress altogether.

McCarthy seemed to enjoy little good will by the time he resigned in December. U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, had reportedly cursed McCarthy out on the House floor after the speaker stopped Buchanan from securing the House Ways and Means Committee chairmanship. It was one of many apparent betrayals of colleagues that left McCarthy with too few allies to save his skin when a group of Freedom Caucus members made a motion to vacate the speaker’s office and sent him packing.

But Liz Cheney wonders if Congress is any better off now. Her book includes pages she had to fight with her publisher to keep, about a legal effort by a little-known Congressman named Mike Johnson who wanted the House to demand the Supreme Court effectively overturn the 2020 presidential election. Johnson, as it happens, emerged from a chaotic leadership struggle last year as McCarthy’s successor as speaker.

“He's a dangerous player in all of this as well,” Liz Cheney said of Johnson. “And I think the fact that, just within the last 10 days or so, he's been unwilling to say that Joe Biden won the 2020 election shows that.”

It may seem an odd position for a politician who, a few years ago, served as the No. 3 Republican in the House, but she no longer wants either chamber of Congress to have a GOP majority by the time the next presidential votes get counted. “You can't count on a group of House Republicans at this point to uphold the Constitution,” Cheney told reporters in Sarasota, hanging her head in disapproval. “I think it's very important that Mike Johnson not be the speaker in January of 2025.” SRQ

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srqist ORIGIN STORY Discover the origin story of The Sarasota-Manatee Originals, which champions local restaurants across the community. Laura Paquette PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN. 34 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local

IN THE EARLY 2000S, SARASOTA BEGAN ATTRACTING THE ATTENTION OF NATIONAL CHAIN RESTAURANTS LOOKING TO OPEN UP IN THE AREA, and local establishments worried they would soon be competing with large companies. In search of solutions, Michael Klauber, the co-proprietor of Michael’s On East, attended an event in Tucson, Arizona, hosted by a group called the Tucson Originals, (which was creating an organization made up of local, independent restaurants). Inspired by that group, he contacted Don Luria, its president, to learn how he could establish a Sarasota chapter.

srq magazine_ APR24 live local | 35
This spread, left to right: Original SMO Restaurants: Michael Klauber, co-proprietor of Michael's OPn East and founding board president of SMO; Chef Paul Mattison, owner of Mattison's Restaurants & Catering; Chef Christopher Covelli, co-owner of Bijou Garden Café, formerly Bijou Café; Chef Harry and Lynn Christensen, owners of Harry's Continental Kitchens; D'Arcy and Chef Raymond Arpke, former owners of Euphemia Haye; and Chef JeanPierre "J.P." Knaggs, former owner of Bijou Café.

“I got myself and seven other restaurateurs together to meet with Don Luria, and he talked to us about what it was all about. At that time in Sarasota, we were starting to get some of the big chain restaurants looking at us and starting to dabble their feet in the waters here, and we were concerned about that. It was a ‘circle your wagons’ type of situation,” Klauber says. “The eight of us got together with this wonderful gentleman and he said, ‘I’ll come back in a month, and if each one of you can get two other restaurants to come, you’ll have enough to start a chapter.’ A month later, we did. There were 24 of us there. We’re at 62 or something now.”

Founded in 2003, this chapter, called the SarasotaManatee Originals, was comprised of beloved member restaurants such as The Colony, Euphemia Haye, Harry’s Continental Kitchens, Café L’Europe, Bijou Café, Mattison’s, Patrick’s, Roessler’s Restaurant and Caragiulos. “We wanted to level the playing field with the chains because the ones that were coming in were spending big money with full-page magazine and TV ads. Most of our restaurants at that time did not have much of a marketing budget,” adds Klauber. “I came up with this idea to go to Sysco Foods–one of our broadline distributors–and said, ‘We can’t purchase together, but what if you give us a percentage of each of our sales back into a marketing fund?,’ and they agreed. That’s how it started. We might not be able to buy the way the chains buy, but it gave us the ability to market.”

restaurants. “Forks & Corks gives everyone the ability to show off their food, to market to that group and, in many cases, do a wine dinner at their restaurant with a famous international winemaker that they wouldn’t normally get—with the publicity that goes along with it,” says Klauber. In addition to Forks & Corks, the Originals group supports events hosted by other organizations, such as Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium and The Bay Sarasota. Aside from events, the Originals runs a quarterly gift certificate sale, in which the public can purchase discounted gift certificates that are usable at any member restaurant, further encouraging the community to eat locally.

The Originals, which celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2023, has buoyed the Sarasota and Manatee food industry during a period of new opportunities and

“The money stays in the town, with the local people who then spend it on the local refrigeration or gas repair guys or air conditioning company. Everything stays local, and that's been the whole movement in the last 20 years.”

Armed with a marketing budget, the Originals wasted no time developing creative ways to spread the word. “We ran full-page ads, featuring chefs and owners saying ‘I’m an Original.’ in SRQ Magazine and other publications. It was a great program. A lot of these little restaurants could never have afforded a fullpage ad, so that’s what we started doing,” Klauber says. The Originals organization partners with ABC7, which highlights different local restaurants on its weekly cooking show. The surge in digital media also helped the Originals get the message out through email blasts and website development. “In the beginning, when we created a website, most of the restaurants didn’t have one and didn’t know how to build one. We had someone to help build websites for our members, and the whole ‘I’m an Original.’ program was integrated into the website. We were able to have one website for people to go to and connect to all the different restaurants,” Klauber adds. This digital marketing has evolved into social media efforts, TV ads and digital banner ads, transforming the way consumers connect with local eateries. In 2008, after participating in local arts events, the Originals created its own event called The Forks & Corks Food and Wine Festival to showcase the member

unforeseen challenges. On the positive side, eateries can now source high-quality, organic, biodynamic and sustainably grown products from local farmers. “Back in the day, most of the local farmers would all go to the Tampa market or the Chicago market and someone would come and pick up all their stuff, and we never could access it locally. That’s changed a lot,” Klauber adds. However, the pandemic created many obstacles for the restaurant industry, including massive increases in labor, food and insurance costs. While the Sarasota area has grown in population, the affordable housing crisis means that restaurant employees have no place to live, making it harder to keep businesses staffed. “The ability to make a profit in a restaurant is much tighter today,” Klauber says.

For Originals members, the organization is a champion of supporting the local community. Hal Christensen, the general manager of Harry’s Continental Kitchens and a founding Originals member, says, “The money stays in the town, with the local people who then spend it on the local refrigeration or gas repair guys or air conditioning company. We don’t have national contracts with big names like chains do. Everything stays local, and that’s been the whole movement for the last 20 years.” Celebrating the restaurants that define the area also gives the staff the opportunity to connect and share stories with the guests. “When you look at food and wine, it’s about romance. It’s about the story. You get that from somebody who had their heart involved with the winery or the restaurant itself,” Christensen says. “If I’m here cooking eight days a week, you’re going to hear my passion about why this food is so good.” SRQ

ENGAGE The SarasotaManatee Originals, 1215D South Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, 941-365-2800, eatlikealocal.com.

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TM AN SRQ MAGAZINE ANNUAL 2024 | SARASOTA + MANATEE FAMILIES, KIDS, EDUCATION AND CREATIVITY
COMPLETE
OF SUMMER CAMPS, VISIT SRQMAG.COM/CAMPS
FOR THE
LISTINGS

SummerCamps

2024 FEATURED SUMMER CAMPS IN SARASOTA + MANATEE

EXPAND YOUR MIND AT SCF CODING ACADEMY

Elementary Camp: Grades Rising 2-5 Dates: June 10 - August 2 (Half-Day Camp 8 am - 12 pm). Cost: $175/week. Location: SCF Lakewood Ranch Campus, CIT Building. Elementary Camp at SCF Venice: Grade Rising 2-5 Dates: July 8 - July 19 (Half-Day Camp 8 am - 12 pm). Cost: $175/week. Location: SCF Venice Campus. Middle School Robotics Camp: Grades Rising 6-8 Campers explore robotics and engineering, movie making, graphic design and entrepreneurship. Dates: June 10th - 14th and June June 17th - 21st. Cost: $299/week. Location: SCF Bradenton Campus. Middle School and High School Camps Ethical Hacking and Manufacturing: Campers explore cybersecurity and what it means to be an ethical hacker, and how it pertains to manufacturing. They learn about how to defend against simulated cybersecurity threats in virtual reality. Dates: June 24th - 28th. Cost: $299/week. Location: SCF Bradenton Campus. Futuristic Finishing Camp Explore creativity with STEAM activities in product finishes, develop new colors, and experiment with different types of finishes for durability, smoothness, aesthetic, and shine. 3D printing, laser cutter/engraver, and vinyl cutter/plotter is used for the production of prototypes during this week. Dates: July 8th -12th Cost: $299/week. Location: SCF Bradenton Campus. High School Camp: AI Manufacturing Campers explore robotics and engineering through artificial intelligence using Echo Dots, Arduino, and virtual reality with cybersecurity. Dates: July 15th -19th. Cost: $299/week. Location: SCF Bradenton Campus. All middle school and high school camps: 9 am–3 pm. Before and after care is available for middle and high school camps only. Time: 8 am - 4 pm. Cost: $50. Register: 941-752-5160, Coding@SCF.edu, SCF.edu/Kids

INQUIRY-BASED MARINE SCIENCE CAMPS

Registration Now Open. Mote Camps combine our groundbreaking research with fun, hands-on and inquiry-based activities. Campers can discover the wonders of marine animals and environments studied by Mote scientist—a great way to gain steam in STEM education even when school is out. Choose from morning or afternoon camps or really dive in with a full day camp experience. Camps may include: snorkeling, kayaking, dip netting, aquarium visits and STEM labs. Join us and #MakeTheMoteOfSummer! Who: Campers 5–13 years old. When: June 3-August 9, half day and full day options. Contact: camps@mote.org or 941-388-4441, ext 164 Check out the mote.org/summercamp for themes, descriptions and more!

CREATIVITY AT FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE

Summer Camp—May 28-August 9 Summer is a joyous and invigorating time at Florida Studio Theatre. For over 35 years, FST’s Summer Theatre Camp has been welcoming young artists to our downtown campus to discover, create, and connect through the art of live theatre. Led by our staff of Resident Teaching Artists, FST’s Summer Theatre Camp provides spirited guidance, helping each child connect with their own innate creativity. Whether your interest is to encourage personal creativity and confidence or pursue serious theatrical training, we invite you to discover your child’s artistic home with Florida Studio Theatre. FST Summer Theatre Camp is for students ages 5-17 and has sessions running May 28-Aug 9. Visit https://www. floridastudiotheatre.org/fst-school/summer-camp/ for more information.

2 RocketKids | April 2024 SUMMER CAMPS SPECIAL EDITION—PRODUCED BY SRQ MAGAZINE
FOR THE COMPLETE LISTINGS OF SUMMER CAMPS, VISIT SRQMAG.COM/CAMPS

2024 Featured Summer Camps

THE BOYS & GIRLS CLUB

Summer Camp—Ages 6-18. The 2024 Boys & Girls Clubs Summer Programs provide youths with access to positive adult mentors and opportunities that encourage academic excellence, leadership development, healthy habits, and success after high school graduation. The Summer Program features a comprehensive slate of exciting activities including daily education, art demonstrations, physical fitness activities, technology instruction, career exploration, and more. Meals are also provided. Dates: May 28 to August 2 (8 am to 6 pm). Clubs will be closed on June 19 and July 1-5. Cost: Membership fees vary by Club. Locations: Gene Matthews Boys & Girls Club at 6851 S. Biscayne Dr., North Port; Lee Wetherington Boys & Girls Club at 3100 Fruitville Rd., Sarasota; Louis and Gloria Flanzer Boys & Girls Club at 18 School Ave., Arcadia; Newtown Estates Park Boys & Girls Club at 2800 Newtown Blvd., Sarasota; Robert and Joan Lee Boys & Girls Club at 920 Gulf Coast Blvd., Venice, and Roy McBean Boys & Girls Club at 1790 21st St., Sarasota. Registration: bgcsdc.org/summer-program

SUMMER AT THE BISHOP

Whether you have been to The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature Camp before, or it is your very first time, there are many things to explore and discover. Each day, we will highlight everything that makes The Bishop special, including our history, the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat, Florida ecosystems, Ice Age fossils, and the Planetarium. Find out what Florida was like more than 1 million years ago. Take deep dives into topics such as meteorites and space technology. Find out who is at the top of the food chain. Tinker, design, create, build, test, and tweak to solve some real-world problems. You will learn, explore, craft, play, snack, and have fun every day! For more: bishopscience.org/science-camp

ASOLO REP THEATRE

Asolo Repertory Theatre’s Education & Engagement team is thrilled to announce an exhilarating lineup of creative camps tailored for ages 6 to 14, set to captivate the summer season. Running from June 24-August 9, these weeklong sessions promise an immersive and dynamic experience for aspiring young artists. Each week of camp introduces a new and exciting theme, offering campers the opportunity to dive into a variety of artistic realms. Participants can attend multiple weeks allowing young artists to curate their summer adventure in a nurturing environment. Asolo Rep emphasizes inclusivity, welcoming novices, and seasoned performers alike, with the belief that theatre is for everyone.

culture city

WHERE INSTRUMENTS TELL A STORY

Director Wu Han leads La Musica Chamber Music Festival through their 2024 season. Dylan Campbell

This page: Artistic Director Wu Han has maintained La Musica Chamber Music Festival’s standard of excellence by collaborating with some of the world’s top musicians including her huband cellist David Finckel.

LOCAL PERFORMING AND VISUAL ARTS+CULTURE

culture city

CHAMBER MUSIC IS, BY ITS VERY NATURE, PERHAPS THE MOST INTIMATE OF ALL THE PERFORMING ARTS. A form of classical music designed for a small number of instruments, chamber music differs vastly from that of a traditional orchestra or symphony. There is no conductor. Each musician, saddled with their own unique part, must listen closely to their fellow performers in order to play in harmony. It’s an artform that requires a great deal of attentiveness, chemistry and care. If successful, the musicians seem to transcend this earthly plane as they become mouthpieces for the instruments they are playing. These instruments turn sheet music into stories–stories of love, rage, triumph and sadness–stories that can touch the souls of those listening.

No one knows this better than pianist Wu Han. Since the age of nine, when she started studying music in Taiwan, classical music—and eventually chamber music—is all she has known. The artform has led her to international acclaim, first as a concert performer and recording artist, and later as an educator and artistic administrator. In 2022, Han was named the artistic director of Sarasota’s La Musica Chamber Music Festival. It is through her guidance as a director and her involvement as a performer that the festival continues to produce some of the best chamber music in the world.

In 2024, the festival will feature five concerts (one each in February and March, and three— as is tradition—across one week in April). Han knows just how transformative an experience chamber music can be. That’s why she speaks with such care about each performance, including La Musica’s first of the season, the Schubert Trios. “Schubert’s two piano trios are some of the most profound pieces of music ever written. They were written in the last year of his life, when he knew that he was going to die,” Han says. “To play the two trios is like climbing Mount Everest. No way to describe it. It’s music

that will go straight into your heart and has so much meaning. The more you listen to it, the more you realize that music is really the greatest accomplishment of human beings. You can be incredibly inspired by this music and it never wears thin on you.”

Han will be joined by her husband, cellist David Finckel, and violinist Philip Setzer— both past members of the famed Emerson Quartet and longtime collaborators with Han. In addition to leading La Musica, Han is also the co-artistic director of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, which requires her to be more than just an arts administrator; she must also continue to perform at the highest level. She and her husband perform collectively in 150 to 200 concerts a year. Doing so, however, is what allows Han to excel as an artistic director. “David and I pretty much have the entire chamber music repertoire in our heads. We can very comfortably walk into a rehearsal or a concert and know every note in the score,” says Han. “From that, I think musicians know that when they come to play for us they have to deliver. They can’t fake their way through it. With our experience, we can also help out a lot with the musicians’ ability to achieve the highest level of performance.”

Han’s connections also pave the way for concerts like the second of La Musica’s season, which will feature musicians from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center. The medley of instruments will feature works from Beethoven, Rossini, Durufle and Hummel, and looks to show the potential of what chamber music can be.

In April, Han will rejoin the musicians for the peak of the festival’s season: three concerts in one week, all highlighting different legendary composers. The week opens with a celebration of “tried-andtrue” composers: Mendelssohn, Brahms and Haydn. The night begins with Haydn’s Piano Trio in A Major, before continuing on with Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet and finishing with Brahms’ innovative String Sextet No. 2 in G Major

It is in the week’s second concert–Mozart, Kodaly and Arensky–that the programming really stretches its wings. “This concert features tons of adventurous works, like Kodaly’s Serenade for Two Violins and Viola, a mysterious and intense piece, or Arensky’s Quartet No. 2, which is set with two cellos, viola and violin (which is an unusual thing but one of the most virtuosic displays of chamber music),” says Han. April’s final concert–Schumann, Smetana and More–is even more ambitious. Bulgarian folk dances appear in Gankino Horo for cello and piano, and Foss’ Capriccio boasts another virtuosic cello and piano pairing. “We play Smetana’s Piano Trio, which is one of the pieces that he wrote when his five year-old daughter died and is so heart-wrenching, before finishing on an uplifting note with Schumann’s Piano Quintet, which is a celebratory piece that he wrote for his wife,” says Han. “The program design is incredibly varied and has triedand-true pieces, as well as a few adventurous spots that can introduce the audience to new discoveries. That’s what a festival can do. You can have three concerts in a short period of time and you can cover a lot of ground.” SRQ.

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| COURTESY OF LA MUSICA |
PHOTOGRAPHY
BY LISA MARIE MAZZUCCO
Below: As Artistic Director of La Musica, Wu Han is not only responsible for programming the festival’s season, but performs in the majority of concerts as well.

A HIGHWAY TO THE PAST

The paintings of the Florida Highwaymen depict an immersive portrait of Old Florida. Dylan Campbell

THE CONCEPT OF ‘OLD FLORIDA’ IS OFTEN ROMANTICIZED AND WITH GOOD REASON. ‘Old Florida’ evokes simpler times, when a state rife with natural beauty was allowed to flourish in peace. Wild oysters still filled the Apalachicola Bay, coastal ecosystems weren’t threatened by rising sea levels and urban development hadn’t made its full mark on the state’s biodiversity. The era of ‘Old Florida’, however, is a doubleedged sword. The seemingly idyllic time period is marred, deeply so, by severe undertones of racial injustice and violence, spanning from the time Spanish conquistadors first arrived through the Civil Rights battles of the 20th century and beyond.

It is out of that era, of the Jim Crow South, that the Florida Highwaymen, the state’s preeminent landscape artists, were born. The story of ‘Old Florida’ is complex and nuanced, filled with equal parts beauty and strife. However, it is left incomplete without the inclusion of the Highwaymen. People like Roger Lightle, owner of the Highwaymen Art Specialists, Inc. and Mary Davis Wallace, the Public Art Manager for the city of Sarasota seem to agree. That’s why in January, a collection of 26 paintings by the Highwaymen–on loan from Lightle–went on display in the Cultural Heritage Exhibit in the City Hall atrium.

While the paintings, which largely depicted the raw beauty of Florida’s untouched landscapes, stand on their own as masterful artwork, it is the story

behind them that makes them all the more special. The Highwaymen, a loose-knit group of 26 AfricanAmerican artists—featuring 25 men and one woman–unofficially began in the mid 1950s when 19-year old artist Harold Newtown began selling landscape paintings door to door and out of the trunks of their cars along highways. Soon after, others followed suit and began a cultural movement that was in part defined by the social parameters of their time: because of the color of their skin, these artists were not allowed to show their work in the traditional galleries and art shows, thus forcing them to sell their paintings in unconventional places, like the side of a highway. “Harold Newtown began painting in this small community known as

culture city 46 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local
IMAGES COURTESY OF ROBERT LIGHTLE.
Above, left to right: After the Storm by Harold Newton. Fire Sky by RA McClendon.

culture city

Gifford, just five minutes north of Vero Beach. It was a small, agricultural community, maybe five blocks by five blocks in size,” says Lightle. “His neighbor, Roy McClendon, noticed Newtown’s initial success and wanted to put his own art skills to work. He realized that there was a path out of preordained careers of menial labor within the agricultural industry and that path was with a paintbrush.”

If you buy this, I’ll be able to eat tonight

For the Highwaymen, painting landscapes was a means to survive. Their legacy is rife with stories like that of Mary Ann Carroll’s who once paid for utility bills with paintings or Alfred Hair, one of the group’s most prominent artists, who was said to have been able to paint an 18 x 24 canvas in under an hour, often times selling pieces while the paint was still wet. For these artists, art was never a hobby–it was a way to provide for themselves and their families, a sentiment that is echoed in the subject matter of their paintings. “Certain backcountry scenes like the Poinsettia tree, the fire sky sunset and the tree-lined beaches were the most

sought after by customers and thus the most repeated landscapes by the Highwaymen. None of them are the same—they are all individual scenes that vary in some way, shape or form, but nevertheless repeated because they knew that they would sell,” says Lightle. “They needed to create artwork that they knew was going to sell.”

The landscapes themselves have a place in the story of Old Florida. The paintings, which range in date from the 1950s through the 1980s, tell a story of a different time period. Residential and commercial development had not yet taken its full hold of the state, leaving millions of acres of wilderness untouched. These depictions of rural Florida, often forgoing formal color theory in favor of brighter, more explosive colors, were from the minds of rural artists, who used their intuition to highlight the natural beauty of the state. “When you look at these paintings, knowing that story, you’re also seeing a struggle. This isn’t just a peaceful landscape–there is an intensity in these landscape paintings because these are

paintings to survive,” says Wallace. “That’s really what we want to bring to City Hall. City Hall has been transformed into a moment of time, with all these records and depictions of what Old Florida used to look like, but it’s also a record of a time with stories that need to be told. We’re really happy to be able to provide that opportunity to the public.”

The Highwaymen remained active throughout the 1980s, with larger national and international acclaim after Jim Fitch, a Florida art historian, dubbed the group “The Highwaymen” in the mid-90s. Today their paintings live on across the country, in collections like Lightle’s or in archives in the Smithsonian. “What you’re hearing about with the Highwaymen is truly an American success story. Not necessarily each and every artist was at the same level, but there were some within the group that were masters of their craft,” says Lightle. “By mastering the skill of painting, they left a volume of art across our state and nation that is now being sought after. SRQ

Below, left to right: Fire Sky by RA McClendon and Palm Beach by Alfred Hair.
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forage

A PALATABLE PALETTE

At Bistro, Sarasota Art Museum’s restaurant, Kaytlin and John Dangaran redefine the term “culinary arts.”

LOCAL EPICUREAN ADVENTURES AT THE TABLE
Below: The decadent wild mushroom tartine surprises diners with hidden layers of flavor in every bite.

WHEN YOU DRIVE BY ONE OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA’S UBIQUITOUS HEIRLOOM TOMATO FIELDS, do you ever wonder what happens to the bits and pieces of the tomato that never make it onto a sandwich? For those that wind up at Bistro, the restaurant in the Sarasota Art Museum, their story is far from over.

Opened in 2020 during the pandemic, Bistro is run by Cafe Operations Manager John Dangaran and his wife, Executive Chef Kaytlin Dangaran. The pair joined the project, located in the former Sarasota High School building—designed by local architectural icon Paul Rudolph—when it was under construction. “Bistro was imagined as a French bistro based upon the building. I loved the idea of a French bistro theme, but I also wanted to incorporate a lot of local stuff,” Kaytlin says. “We try to stay super local and support local. Our dairy is from Dakin Dairy Farms in Myakka. Our honey and bee pollen are from Old Florida Bee Company in Myakka. And C’est La Vie does our bread. It’s a little bit French bistro and a little bit American farmstand.”

A native Floridian, Kaytlin grew up in Brandon, where she first developed her love of cooking. After studying at Florida State University and working in the nonprofit world, she went on to study at The French Culinary Institute, which is now the International Culinary Center. She worked in New York City and San Francisco, immersing herself in the culinary styles that define each city. From New York, she gained an appreciation for the Italian sandwiches served in Little Italy, to which she pays homage with the Italian Chopped Salad on Bistro’s menu. With radicchio, pepperoncini, little gem lettuce, salami, kalamata olives, chickpeas and a parmesan black pepper vinaigrette, the bold and flavorful salad packs a punch with every bite.

“The way chefs think about food on the West Coast is totally different from the East Coast. In New York, everything on the plate has a purpose. You’re planning all of your food steps on your dish. Everything has a meaning, and it’s placed there specifically for its

forage
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This spread, left to right: Executive Chef Kaytlin Dangaran and her husband, Cafe Operations Manager John Dangaran, prioritize fresh, local ingredients and waste reduction across the Bistro. Grilled cheese with housemade pickles and tomato jam is a musttry. The chopped Italian salad plays off the classic New York sandwich in a new format. Bistro at Sarasota Art Museum, 1001 South Tamiami Trl., Sarasota, 941-330-9881, sarasotaartmuseum. org/bistro.

purpose. In San Francisco, you start with the product first, and then you work your way back. Everything on the plate still has a purpose, but your creative process is different,” adds Kaytlin. “One way, you start with a product, and the other way, you might start with an idea. I’m so grateful that I got to do that and flip my brain as a young chef.”

The opportunity to return to Florida came when the couple worked at the Pérez Art Museum Miami and the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science after living in New York City and San Francisco. When they learned that their company, Constellation Culinary Group, had been awarded the contract to work with the Sarasota Art Museum, they moved to Sarasota to spearhead the project, which blends the works on display in the galleries with Kaytlin’s culinary artistry. “We don’t look at ourselves as being separate from the museum. We have this symbiotic relationship, and we like to refer to it as a campus,” John says. Diners on campus can enjoy a meal in the restaurant or to go, while relaxing in common spaces like the front lawn. Inside the space, Bistro features art exhibits like Staccato by Molly Hatch—a wall of 70 hand-painted earthenware plates in copper luster and royal blue. The opposite wall celebrates the history of the Thonet bistro chair

featured in the dining space. “Our company is in a lot of places, but this is the only location that I know of that is actually gallery space,” John adds. “When you start thinking about it, there’s layers upon layers upon layers, and art on top of art.”

Creating edible art that shines in the dining room is on Kaytlin’s mind when she is preparing for special events like the exciting Pop-Up Nights. “You come on campus and do a private tour at night with the director or curator. Then, you come to Bistro, and the entire menu is based on everything that you just saw,” she says. “We only do it that one night; we never recreate it after that. When I do those menus, I either sit down with the curator or research the art, and there’s a lot of backstory behind the dishes that you eat. You just saw it, and it looked exactly like it when you sat down.” She has created checkered, printed cookies that evoke the checkered print “Easter eggs” found in paintings by Robert Colescott. And she has used feuille de brick (a thin pastry dough) to mimic Juana Valdés’ Redbone Colored China Rags, which resemble fabric but are ceramic.

Even the dishes that don’t represent works of art are magnificent. The Wild Mushroom Tartine emerges from the plate like a mountain that takes guests to the summits of fungi flavor. Served as an open-faced sandwich on a slice of cereal loaf baked by C’est La Vie, the dish features a duxelles, or purée, of cremini mushrooms, shallots, thyme and butter mixed with a creamy Mornay cheese sauce. Kaytlin tops the dish with roasted oyster, hon-shimeji, maitake and cremini mushrooms tossed in truffle oil, lemon juice and chives, as well as six-minute eggs which have solid whites and runny yolks, and then garnishes it with chives and parmesan. “It’s decadent, and it highlights how you can use mushrooms in a couple of different ways,” she says.

While Kaytlin is a huge fan of mushrooms, her menu also celebrates the humble tomato in an unexpected way. The grilled cheese–with Pullman bread that has a parmesan crust on the outside, and a Fontina Mornay and aged sharp white cheddar on the inside–wouldn’t be complete without the house-made tomato jam and accompanying sweet pickles. Made with toasted mustard seeds, shallots, tarragon, basil, sherry vinegar, heirloom tomatoes and honey, the jam is a manifestation of Kaytlin and John’s passion for reducing food waste by reusing ingredients. Even when tomato soup isn’t on the menu, guests can enjoy the flavor combination by dipping the sandwich into the jam. Side by side in little square bowls, the bright green pickles and red tomato jam call to mind the vivid colors of a painter’s palette. For the bits and pieces of a tomato with an unknown fate, being part of this dish is an incredible stroke of luck, as well as a tribute to Bistro’s commitment to local ingredients, culinary innovation and immersive experiences. SRQ

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PHOTOGRAPHY BY
WYATT KOSTYGAN.

SRQ READERS SET EPIC RECORDs IN THIS 2024 BEST OF SRQ LOCAL COMPETITION with 177,056 votes and quotes for their hometown favorites. The results are in and there are plenty of folks around town who can now officially call themselves The Lucky Ones. You spoke up, and we listened. From brunch to burgers and pedicures to politicians, BOSRQ Local is back with a brand-new batch of the region’s finest fare, favorite services, most sought-after places and beloved businesses—a grand tally, thanks to all your voting. And now we are happy to present you with the tried and true, the new voices and the rising nominees of this year’s competition. This time around, we’ve themed the competition around Taylor Swift’s Eras—a celebration of one of America’s most favorite pop icons. The talent and popularity–combined with the entrepreneurs, designers, restaurateurs, physicians and specialists listed on the following pages–continue to putour region on the map, proving that earth shattering and eclectic aren’t just for the big cities. These winners had the Electric Touch to make Sparks Fly— a Swift rise to the top. Welcome to The Best of SRQ Local Era! Follow in our readers’ footsteps and tour the town with their favorites. Trust us, they know the best of the best All Too Well. #BOSRQ

SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE~

THE BEST OF SRQ LOCAL ERA

Best CupcakesLocal

READER QUOTE COMPILATION + WRITING BY

ERA

Best Local Day Spa

SIRIUS DAY SPA AND MED SPA

OPPOSITE PAGE: You’ll never find another cupcake like Platinum Winner Cakes By Ron. THIS PAGE: Multi-platinum winner Karen Medford of Sirius Day Spa and Med Spa recreating the cover of Swift’s 1989 album.

RESTAURANTS &DINING

BEST LOCAL AÇAI BOWL Passion Roots

A bowl of immune-boosting antioxidants that tastes like dessert? Sign. Us. Up. Açai is a South American superfood with tons of super fans. PASSION ROOTS granola-topped its bowls for the top spot, winning Platinum, while TOASTIQUE coconutcrunched the competition for Gold. Swirling into Silver was SARAFRESH KITCHEN, and SUMMER TAP JUICE BAR made Sarasotans bananas with its Bronze win. Honorable Mention Palmers Nutritious You Plant Based Cafe had us bowling over for a taste of their amazing açai.

Riley Hamilton (on Passion Roots): They are the sweetest people and have the best açaí bowl in town. PB lover bowl is my favorite. Kara Saunders (on Passion Roots): Organic and freshly made, with a variety of different healthy and delicious toppings. Kellie McGuckin (on Toastique) Has amazing bowls. You can tell everything is fresh and the flavors are amazing. Kristen Lessig Schenerlain (on SaraFresh Kitchen): Lynn is amazing. She and her team have taken care of our teachers at SSAS. Jessica Hays (on SaraFresh Kitchen): The açai bowls at SaraFresh are filled with fresh, local ingredients. I go at least twice a week—it’s healthy, delicious and a great way to step away from my desk for a nutritious lunch treat.

Julia Dees (on Summer Tap Juice Bar): Without a doubt the freshest and more delicious açaí bowls in the area. They take their time to freshly cut the fruit for each order and I have never tasted blackberries so incredible.

BEST LOCAL TACOS Mi Pueblo

Okay guys, let’s taco’ bout it. Who sour-creamed the competition this year? That would be Platinum winner MI PUEBLO EL RESTAURANTE MEXICANO. Chip and dipping their way into Gold was long-time favorite SCREAMING GOAT TAQUERIA, while REYNA’S TAQUERIA salsa’d into Silver. Best in Bronze? Time to spill the refried beans—it’s KOLUCAN MEXICAN BAR AND GRILL. Plenty more spots to take home some tortillas—try Honorable Mentions Hamlet’s Eatery, Wicked Cantina and El Toro Bravo.

Ron Haggerty (on Mi Pueblo): Food is always authentic and amazing! The staff is amazing as well. Gina Caro (on Mi Pueblo): The tacos sudados, tacos al pastor or the carnitas are worth waiting for every Friday. Cindy Effron (on Screaming Goat): Screaming Goat Taqueria offers outstanding and unique food at extremely reasonable prices. Not only have we eaten in the restaurant, we have also catered with them and we couldn’t have been more pleased with the service and the quality and quantity of the food! José Tavárez (on Reyna’s Taqueria): This taqueria is a hidden gem, offering a haven of

genuine Mexican flavors and cuisine. It’s not a place to go on a date, but rather to indulge in real tacos—a date with the food itself, a celebration of flavors and culture. Adriana Alvarado (on Kolucan): The passion that the owner and management have put into not only the upbringing of the restaurant, but also the specialty of the food is phenomenal. Carlos Bardalez (on Kolucan): It’s like having a piece of Mexico City in our town.The flavors are straight out of grandma’s kitchen. Judy Alexander (On Hamlet’s): If you have ever tried it, you wouldn’t ask. Kubota-Shulok (on Tamiami Tacos) Fantastic fish tacos, crispy and savory sweet with the mango chutney. The smoked carnitas is absolutely mouthwatering and goes amazingly with the garlicky avocado sauce. Lisa Charnicharo (On Hamlet’s): Great jackfruit tacos.

BEST NEW RESTAURANT

Florence and the Spice Boys

They’re here, they’re new and they’re waiting for you! Opening up their doors this year were spots with plenty of fresh meat, so meet Sarasota’s Platinum pick: FLORENCE AND THE SPICE BOYS. Going for an attention-grabbing Gold was THE BREAKFAST COMPANY, while KOLUCAN MEXICAN BAR AND GRILL was a scene-stealing Silver. Bursting onto the block, BESO bested the rest for Bronze. Need some more newbies? Try Honorable Mentions Toastique, Boo’s Ice House & Dog Bar and Fork & Hen SRQ.

Cassandra Roulette (on Florence and the Spice Boys): Fabulous flavors and fresh food. Kasey Bontrager (on The Breakfast Company): The Breakfast Company will always be my favorite place to eat but it is so special to me because it brings a sense of family when you walk through the door, from the beginning to the end of your time there. The food is amazing as well as the staff and the owners of this place. My favorite is the quote on the wall that says, “Let us love you with our food,” and that’s exactly what they do. This place is amazing. Bruno Barajas (on Kolucan): It’s rich in flavor and authentic Mexican food from scratch. It’s like flying years back when I was a kid and my mom was cooking. Leane Bugo (on Beso): They have the best menu and cocktails. The staff is knowledgeable and service excellent. Sammy Stoltz (on Toastique): The perfect fast-casual dining experience that downtown Sarasota was missing. Michael Frassetti (on Toastique): Been there numerous times—great addition to Sarasota. Dorsey Olson (on Boo’s Ice House): Unique and fun atmosphere, delicious food, friendly staff and owners! And we don’t even have a dog! Megan Graf (on Boo’s Ice House): Yummy food and I can bring my dog. What gets better than that? Melanie Reda (on Forn & Hen SRQ): The chefs are outstanding. Whatever the special is—just get it! And never pass up dessert. Krysta Mardon (on Forked): Forked is the best local spot. They are my solid go to. The food is always absolutely delicious, the service is perfection. We go every week and they never disappoint. The best local spot.

BEST LOCAL SUSHI JPAN Sushi and Grill

Wasabi and spice and everything rice? It’s sushi—one of the world’s best circular foods. JPAN SUSHI AND GRILL rolled into Platinum, while PACIFIC RIM grabbed the Gold. TSUNAMI SUSHI & HIBACHI GRILL didn’t need any kelp snagging Silver, and SPICE STATION bento-boxed their way to Bronze. Need some more sushi to keep you jumping for soy? Try Honorable Mentions Ichiban Restaurant & Sushi Bar and Kiyoshi’s Sushi.

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Best Local Avocado Toast

HAMLET’S EATERY

Terese Bollman (on JPAN): Their menu selection is huge but it’s the lobster roll or the rainbow roll that I crave. The miso soup and green tea is comfort for my soul. Thomas Knight (on JPAN): It is my girlfriend’s and my favorite date spot. Candice Brown-McElyea (on Pacific Rim): I even ordered Pacific Rim to go after giving birth to both of my children at SMH. Love that hot lava roll and the martini salad! Jadyn Rodocker (on Pacific Rim): The ambiance is great and the service is ncredible. I recommend ordering a sushi boat. Daina Bouvier (on Tsunami): Hands down the best sushi around! Everything is made fresh, service is amazing and great menu options! Uzi Baram (on Spice Station): One of my favorite restaurants in Sarasota. Spice Station offers a great selection of entrées, all tasty and flavorful. Whether seated outside or inside, the dining experience is intimate and the ambiance encourages good conversations. Elias Vitale (on Ichiban): Their scuba roll is to die for. Connie Caban (on Ichiban): Small family owned for years! Great food and ambiance.

BEST LOCAL FRENCH FRIES Hamlet’s Eatery Dip ‘em. Grab ‘em. Dunk ‘em. Love ‘em. Americans are united in our favorite side, but the choices can have us divided. Crispy. Curly. Wedge. And don’t get us started on dipping sauces! Frying the competition this year was Platinum winner HAMLET’S EATERY, while BREWSTER’S GASTROPUB dunked its way to Gold. ANTOINE’S RESTAURANT said potat-no to the rest and confidently snagged Silver. FORK & HEN SRQ was one of Sarasota’s best spuds, winning Bronze. For those who always have their eyes on the fries, check out Honorable Mention Forked at Waterside.

Brittany Coblentz (on Hamlet’s Eatery): Have to hide when I take these home or my kids will steal them since they are so good! Michelle Dugand (on Brewster’s Gastropub and Tavern): Skinny fries, great with or without the truffle options. A great way to stay fed while drinking throughout the night. Oli Georges (on Antoine’s Restaurant) Twice fried is the best!

BEST LOCAL BARBECUE Brick’s Smoked Meats

Sarasota—they’ve got the meats. While we might have borrowed that tagline, there’s nothing unoriginal about these winners. Besides the finger lickin’ good food—BBQ joints are a haven for country music. Though we can’t tell you T-Swift’s favorite good from the grill—we do know she loves Tim McGraw. So come for your tastebuds and the tunes. Platinum pitmaster this year was BRICK’S SMOKED MEATS, while STOTTLEMYER’S SMOKEHOUSE smoked the competition, grilling for the Gold. A constant on the barbeque scene, NANCY’S BAR-B-Q sizzled into Silver. Even though she sadly closed her restaurant, our readers still wanted to give her a shout out. MOUTHOLE BBQ basted the best for Bronze. Don’t worry—there are plenty more seasoned spots here to stick to your ribs. Saddle up to Honorable Mention Gold Rush BBQ. Arthur Napolitano (on Stottlemyer’s): I think the food is amazing. Best pulled pork sandwich ever. Danni Solomon (on Stottlemyer’s): By far the best bbq I’ve ever had in my life! Their brisket is mouth watering, the cornbread is out of this world! Kathy LaGasse (on Nancy’s Bar-B-Q): The best barbeque in Sarasota! Love all the other sides as well. Danielle Walz (on Mouthole BBQ): I wake up with a drooling wet mouth just pining for their meats. Romao Maresca (on Mouthole BBQ): True southern BBQ with a style all their own.

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Nancy Van Niel (on Gold Rush BBQ): Never, ever disappointed with the great BBQ here and service is outstanding. *Even though Nancy’s Bar-B-Q has closed, our readers still wanted to show their love for her finger-licking dishes.

BEST LOCAL BREAKFAST First Watch

Breakfast spots really struck gold when science backed up bacon. Well, maybe not bacon, but according to the smart people who decide stuff, breakfast—not lunch, not dinner—is the most important meal of the day. So, where should you chow down on the day’s most vital plate? Sarasota says look no further than Platinum winner FIRST WATCH. Grabbing Gold was THE BREAKFAST COMPANY, while THE BREAKFAST COTTAGE pancake’d other contenders to take home Silver. When you’re ready to wake up and smell the Bronze, head to SUN GARDEN CAFE. Check out our other egg-cellent Honorable Mentions: ATRIA Cafe and Forked at Waterside.

Theresa Dwulit (on First Watch): Since moving to Sarasota, First Watch has been a consistent staple in my weekends. I love being greeted with a smile, my own pot of coffee on the table, and don’t get me started about their bacon. This is hands down one of the best places for breakfast in Sarasota. Liz Soulen (on First Watch): Their Works Omelet is the best! I can make two meals out of it and it is my Sunday go-to. Cassandra Caldwell (on The Breakfast Company): My husband and I have gone to almost every restaurant in Sarasota, The Breakfast Company has become our go to spot for consistency, great service, clean facility, and amazing food! It is so hard to find a restaurant where the food is consistently amazing every time. I’ve never complained about anything I’ve eaten there! Paulene Soublis (on The Breakfast Company): Best biscuits and gravy. Kim Broder (on The Breakfast Cottage): You have to try this charming restaurant. The food is amazing and the atmosphere is the perfect way to start off your day! Sandra Noll (on Sun Garden Café): I visit Siesta Key every year and never miss breakfast or brunch at Sun Garden Cafe! Rita Davidson (on Sun Garden Café): Delightful breakfast in the garden. Gourmet take on old standbys. Best bacon in the world! Weylu Chang (on ATRIA Café): The egg sandwich is a breakfast staple and a gem. Fluffy buns matched with thick and crispy bacon slices. And the touch of tomato jam with a hint of spice, mmm. Taste bud heaven. Johanna Eccles (on ATRIA Café): The atmosphere, the service, the entire experience goes beyond a regular rushed breakfast. You get to enjoy time for yourself. Chris Reyes (on Forked at Waterside): they have the best breakfast menu with different tastes for everybody—crepes, chilaquiles, peanut butter oatmeal, etc. Love eating here!

BEST LOCAL BURGER Food + Beer

Never has there been a better vehicle for sauce than the burger. For condiment queens—and kings—everywhere, the burger is the food of dreams. Ketchup? Yes. Mustard? You betcha. Mayo? Delicious. Barbeque? Special Sauce? Ranch?! The sauce-abilities are endless. Placing themselves in Platinum was FOOD + BEER, while HAMLET’S EATERY proved un-bun-lievably good, grabbing Gold. GECKO’S GRILL AND PUB had other burgers in a pickle, stealing Silver, and SHAKESPEARE’S CRAFT BEER AND GASTRO PUB quarter-pounded the rest to take home Bronze. Take a bite out of these Honorable Mentions: Patrick’s 1481, Mouthole BBQ, Michael John’s and Brewster’s Gastropub.

Dan Prieto (on Food + Beer): They rule burger Monday! Kim Livengood (on Hamlet’s Eatery): Big burger on a brioche bun with smoked gouda, bacon and house-made garlic aioli served

RIGHT: Platinum winning burgers from Food+Beer.

with their award-winning fries is perfection! Melanie Reda (on Hamlet’s Eatery): It’s just so consistently good. Try it with the egg on it. Yum! Cameron Pifer (on Gecko’s Grill and Pub): Simplistic bliss! Linda Shepard (on Shakespeare’s): Best caramelized, onion, and brie burger ever! Dominick Catterson (on Brewster’s): Hands down the best burger in Sarasota! No question about it. The mushroom and Swiss, the rodeo, etc. All are absolutely amazing William Gravely (on Patrick’s 1481): Patrick’s cheeseburgers are always tasty, wellseasoned and well-cooked. I like mine medium well-done! Rachel Rivera (on Mouthole): Their burgers are just amazing. We drive an hour and a half to have their smashburgers. Arthur Phillips (on Mouthole BBQ): The smashburger that Mouthole offers on Tuesdays are consistently delicious. Great meat and great bread. Mary Beth Crider (on Brown’s

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“Nothing good starts in a getaway car . . . ”
LYRICS TO TAYLOR SWIFT’S GETAWAY CAR

Food Factory): Chef Todd hand presses every burger. They are seasoned throughout and are the most juicy burger I’ve ever tasted. He doesn’t smash them or cook them till they are dry with no flavor. They are a 1/2 lb before they are dressed. His food truck is the only place I’ll get a burger.

BEST LOCAL GROUPER SANDWICH

Walt’s Fish Market Restaurant

When you live next to the ocean, your next meal is only a boat ride away. Fresh fish straight from the Gulf into your gut is available every day, and Sarasotans have clear favorites for their fish. While we might be Fearless with some of our food choices—we won’t mess with the freshest and best.

WALT’S FISH MARKET RESTAURANT plunged into Platinum, swimming straight to the top spot. THE OLD SALTY DOG

gilled for the Gold, while THE MAINE LINE sailed into Silver. Nothing fishy about this winner—GECKO’S GRILL AND PUB bubbled into Bronze. Chow down on some fish-licious fins at Honorable Mentions Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Duval’s Fresh. Local. Seafood. and Brown’s Food Factory.

Linda Shepard (on Walt’s Fish Market Restaurant): The freshest seafood and love the grouper sandwich. Charla Burchett (on The Old Salty Dog): The Old Salty Dog is a family favorite. We can stay in our casual attire and sit outside and we get to continue enjoying the water view while we eat. An added bonus—the food is delicious—especially the beer battered fish sandwich! Virginia Clark (on Anna Maria Oyster Bar): Delicious grouper sandwich. Get it grilled or blackened. Tamra Joiner (on Anna Maria Oyster Bar): The grouper sandwich at the oyster bar is an 8oz sandwich cooked

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Best Local Grouper Sandwich

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WALT’S
FISH MARKET

to perfection. It’s juicy, flavorful and you can customize it however you like. If you have never tried it blackened I recommend you do so! It also comes served with homemade chips and coleslaw. Every item on the plate has a unique flavor that will keep you coming back for more! Toni Glassko (on Brown’s Food Factory): This food truck has my favorite grouper sandwich. It’s big, grilled and perfect in Florida. Linc and Jon Hay (on The Maine Line): For anyone who craves the authentic tastes of Maine, The Maine Line is the real deal. Having grown up in Maine there is nothing like the lobster rolls, snappy dogs, and original Italian sandwich that The Maine Line offers. We seek them out every time we need our Maine “fix.”

BEST LOCAL STEAK

Alpine Steakhouse and Butcher Shop

Moo’ve out of the way — Sarasota’s top steaks are steppin’ into town. Nothing rare about ALPINE STEAKHOUSE AND BUTCHER SHOP placing Platinum, while MICHAEL JOHN’S beefed up for the competition and took Gold. SIESTA KEY SUMMER HOUSE STEAK AND SEAFOOD sizzled into Silver, and B&B CHOPHOUSE AND MARKET was a prime cut, besting for Bronze.

Ramin Hashemi (on Alpine Steakhouse): Alpine is a good old-fashioned no frills restaurant with high quality food and excellent service. GG (on Alpine Steakhouse): Best steaks and twice baked potatoes in town. Mike McLellan (on Michael John’s): I have eaten their filet for many years now. Even ordered take out during COVID and have loved every single one. Tina Whyte (on Michael John’s): Outstanding food and service every time! Steaks so tender, you don’t even need a knife to cut it! Jacqueline DeCaro (on Siesta Key Summer House Steak and Seafood): Best meals I have ever had in Florida. Stephen Bishop (on B&B Chophouse and Market): Fantastic restaurant and one of the few true locals in this genre.

BEST LOCAL THAI Bangkok Restaurant

It didn’t take folks long to use their noodle and pick their favorite Thai. BANGKOK RESTAURANT spiced up enough lives to place Platinum, while DRUNKEN POET CAFE curried favor with the crowd for Gold. SPICE STATION lemongrassed the rest for a Silver win, and ISAN THAI RESTAURANT spring roll’d into a Bangkok Bronze. When you’re feeling Krabi and need something with a little panang, try Honorable Mentions Thai Wasabi and Stiks.

Kaureen Uy (on Drunken Poet): I love their Pad Thai. Donna Gardinier (on Spice Station): The best Thai food and veggie fried rice. Naomi Glatzer (on Isan Thai Restaurant): I love Isan Thai and how they offer vegan options in their dishes. It really is quality food and they are super friendly. Kathy

McKeithen (on Thai Wasabi) Our favorite Thai and great sushi place! This family owned business is amazing. Always delicious! Daina Bouvier (on Stiks): Best authentic Thai food and great vegan options. Service is great and love the atmosphere. Jan Bartolone (on Stiks): When I’m craving yellow curry this is the only place I’ll get it. Stiks has the best curry and crab rangoon.

BEST LOCAL PASTA Cafe Barbosso

Swirly, twirly goodness is never more than a short drive away in the pasta paradise that is Sarasota. CAFE BARBOSSO topped the rest like a perfect mountain of parmesan, taking home Platinum, while NAPULE orege-knows the secret to a saucy success and nabbed Gold. LA VIOLETTA is a spaghetti heaven Silver, and MEDITERRANEO bucatini-means business with its Bronze victory. Don’t forget the humble pizza parlor when getting your fusilli fix—try out Honorable Mentions Rico’s Pizzeria, Capo Pazzo Pizzeria, Demetrio’s Restaurant and Pizza, Dolce Italia and Vino Vino Restaurant.

Jennifer O’Neill (on Cafe Barbosso): Always beyond delicious! Friendly staff and the hardest working owner you’ll ever meet! Marge McCarthy (on Napulé): Homemade every day! Recipes from family in Italy. Only way to get better is to go to Italy. Jean Anne Frazier (on La Violetta): Great food, atmosphere and service—a slice of Italy. Carmen Favara (on Capo Pazzo Pizzeria) The penne alla vodka and their dish with the broccolini is out of this world. Stephanie Sattler (on Vino Vino Restaurant) I went with my husband for Valentine’s Day. We couldn’t get a reservation anywhere. Then the owner called us back to let us know they had a cancellation and to see if we were interested. We were so grateful for that and we had a great time. The food was amazing, and the wine was excellent! They honestly make the best pasta in town. Leah Reda (on Dolce Italia): The Trenne Dolce Italia is the best pasta dish in SRQ. The balance of acidity and richness, the al dente pasta. Mamma mia!

BEST LOCAL PIZZA Rico’s Pizzeria

Doughn’t know where to eat tonight—how about the triedand-true P-I-Z-Z-A? Five letters, two Zs, pure perfection. It’s clear that readers love pizza “to the moon and Saturn.” RICO’S PIZZERIA cheez’ed the day and pepper-own-ied the competition, placing Platinum, while CAPO PAZZO PIZZERIA won everyone’s crust, taking home Gold. Slinging into Silver was NAPULE, and CORNERSTONE AND COMPANY became the love triangle everyone wanted a piece of, bringing home Bronze. Get a nice slice at Honorable Mentions Vesuvio Wood Fired Pizza and ATRIA Cafe.

Patricia Valdes (on Rico’s Pizzeria): We searched high and low for Jersey style pizza and found nothing that came close. All of the food at the Rico’s in Lakewood Ranch is consistently delicious. Their pizza’s the best. Melissa Toro (on Capo Pazzo Pizzeria): Hands down best New York style pizza and authentic Italian cuisine here in Sarasota. My family is obsessed with this place. Everything is delicious and a step above any pizzeria restaurant. Claudia Govic (on Napulé): It tastes like Italy—very authentic. Barbara Evens (on Napulé): Best pizzaiolo cesare. Laura Millslagle (on Cornerstone & Company) Pizza places are everywhere, but great pizza is hard to find. Luckily I found it. Cornerstone & Company isn’t just pizza; it’s a masterpiece crafted in a coal-fired oven. With every bite, you taste the dedication, the passion, and the commitment to excellence that sets it apart.

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It’s not just the best in the area; it’s award-worthy perfection. Catherine Clouse Ferrer (on Cornerstone & Company): Cornerstone elevates the event experience by delighting all the senses: aromas, beautiful display, friendly staff, delicious handheld food, and unique libations. If I see they are catering something, I know it’s a not-to-be-missed event. Debra Ragan (on Vesuvio): Close your eyes when you eat this pizza and you are in Italy. Flavors and dough are all made by them. Truly amazing! Hanna Stebbins (on Vesuvio): The most authentic Italian pizza, wonderful staff. Lived in Sarasota my whole life and I’ve never had pizza this good. Johanna Eccles (on ATRIA Café): You have not tried the best pizza until you have had Atria’s—and, it is healthier!

BEST LOCAL SALAD Columbia Restaurant

Health is wealth, baby, and these Sarasota spots are serving up big bowls of vitamin A, B and see you there for lunch. Year after year, COLUMBIA RESTAURANT tosses and chops its way to the top, taking home Platinum yet again. GECKO’S GRILL & PUB lettuce know they were here to stay, grabbing Gold, while SELVA was dressed for a Silver success. GREEN ZEBRA CAFE had just the right veg to beet the rest and turnip the heat for Bronze. For extra nutrients on your journey to becoming a green goddess, try Honorable Mentions ATRIA Cafe and Forked at Waterside.

Kathy LaGasse (on Gecko’s Grill & Pub): 1992 salad is the best. Large enough for two. Regina DePalma (on Selva): Selva Grill is in a special class of cuisine. Its unique and amazing dishes are over the top. Their specialty cocktails are always the best. The appetizers and dinners are show pieces and their incredible flavors are melded to make your taste buds jump! Definitely on our list to delight guests when visiting and of course, ourselves. Never ever a disappointment at Selva. A wonderful atmosphere too. Anna Sommers (on Green Zebra Cafe)” The Panzanella salad with grilled artichokes at Green Zebra is simply outstanding. It’s become my go-to choice every time I dine there. This dish is truly a culinary work of art.

BEST LOCAL OYSTERS

Brine Seafood and Raw Bar

Sarasotans had plenty to shell-ebrate this year. Reigning supreme was the pearl-fectly Platinum BRINE SEAFOOD AND RAW BAR, while VERONICA FISH AND OYSTER Rock-efellered a Gold. OWEN’S FISH CAMP shucked the rest for Silver, and SIESTA KEY OYSTER BAR couldn’t be ignored as our b-oysterous Bronze winner. Don’t worry, we wouldn’t clam up on you now—try Honorable Mentions Anna Maria Oyster Bar and Monk’s Steamer Bar Inc.

Jessica Lempereur (on Brine): Brine has the best oyster selection in town, constantly bringing in fresh cold water oysters. Never go anywhere else! Megan Sherman (on Brine): They always have a variety of oysters, and they are perfectly shucked. You never have to scrape them from the shell. Tracey Clayton (on Veronica Fish and Oyster): Best shuckers! Grab a front row seat at the oyster bar to watch the action. Jon Sullivan (on Siesta Key Oyster Bar): Great place for oysters, drinks and live music. Misty Johnson (on Anna Maria Oyster Bar): These oysters are the best. They’re always consistently large, plump and delicious! The garlic parmesan oysters are my favorite. Candace Shuman (on Dockside Waterfront Grill): The oysters here are delicious and fresh and you can’t beat the dolphins jumping around as your view.

BEST ROMANTIC DINNER Ophelia’s on the Bay

Love is in the air and on the menu at these romance-heavy restaurants. The undisputed queen of romance—and heartbreak—we’d love to believe if T-Swift sailed over to Sarasota these spots would get her seal of approval. The perfect ambiance to spark a new Love Story. Pursing their lips for a Platinum kiss is OPHELIA’S ON THE BAY, while MADEMOISELLE PARIS grabs hold of their loved one for Gold. L is for the way you look at me, but S is for INDIGENOUS RESTAURANT’S Silver win. Last up, readers only had eyes for Bronze-winning MICHAEL’S ON EAST. Cozy up to your number one at Honorable Mentions Michael John’s, Ka Papa Cuisine, Antoine’s Restaurant and Jack Dusty.

Clayton Robinson (Ophelia on the Bay): The food is amazing, the view is spectacular, and the service is second to none!

Nick Mycanka (on Mademoiselle Paris): A touch of Paris in Sarasota County. Great wine and deserts. Stephanie Brown (on Indigenous Restaurant): Indigenous Restaurant is the epitome of understated excellence. Marge McCarthy (on Michael John’s): French-American‚ ooo-lala, especially if we are in a rough patch. MJ’s will reset the romantic energy, especially with a good bottle of wine or cocktail. Keith David Bracco (on Antoine’s Restaurant): When you’ve had one of those crazy days (or weeks) where you wish you could just get away from it all for a few hours—to be able to feel welcomed with wonderful food and have a romantic atmosphere that you can share with the one you loved one—that’s our getaway. That’s Antoine’s. Gina Caro (on Jack Dusty): Nice vibes, waterside, drinking one Siren will have you feeling romantic. Gloriany Reyes Ramos (on Michael John’s): The atmosphere is very romantic, the lighting and setting of it all is beautiful. A nice date night.

BEST LOCAL DESSERT Mademoiselle Paris

When you’ve had a bad day and you need to shake it off, sometimes the only cure is a sweet treat. Sarasota is stacked with sugary goodness better than your wildest dreams MADEMOISELLE PARIS made nabbing Platinum look like a piece of cake, while EUPHEMIA HAYE RESTAURANT AND THE HAYE LOFT whip-creamed the other contenders for a Gold win. Taking home a sweet Silver win was OLAF’S SIESTA VILLAGE, and KA PAPA CUISINE earned enough brownie points with the crowds to best the rest for Bronze. Still need some sugar, sugar? Don’t glaze over Honorable Mentions CCSweets LLC and Simply Sweets SRQ.

Estee Rubinstein (on Euphemia Haye Restaurant and The Haye Loft) Dessert room, all desserts made in-house and all exceptionally delicious and beautiful. Debra Bristol (on Ka Papa Cuisine): The Blueberry Red Wine Sorbet is the best dessert I’ve ever had. Definitely not meant for sharing. Sally Shields (on Ka Papa): All I can say is vegan chocolate cake!!! Dorianne Radloff (on CCSweets): The most elegant and creative wedding cakes. Corinna makes all desserts and wedding cakes from scratch! Tastes so good. Olivia Cooper (On CCSweets): Corinna made my birthday cake this year and it was absolutely amazing. Not to mention delicious.

BEST LOCAL VEGAN Green Zebra Cafe

Don’t settle for medi-okra food! You’d be a tofu-ol to not grab a meat-free meal at one of Sarasota’s many restaurants that double as plant-based paradises. GREEN ZEBRA CAFE is a pretty big dill around town as the Platinum pick, while

For those

love sweets, visit Best of SRQ Local award-winning desserts from Yoder’s Restaurant and Mademoiselle Paris.

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RIGHT: who

Lover

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You Belong With Me, these dishes from Platinum winners Mi Pueblo, Rico’s Pizzeria and JPAN are coveted bites.

HAMLET’S EATERY has always bean a fan favorite and took home a Gold win this year. Last up—it wasn’t a close kale, awarding KA PAPA CUISINE the Silver spot.

Candace Swann (on Green Zebra Cafe): The Vegan Raw Pancake is the best thing in town! Gina Robles (on Green Zebra Cafe): Having explored vegan restaurants worldwide for two decades, Green Zebra stands out as the best in our book. It’s become a beloved spot for our family, even our nonvegan friends adore it. Extensive brunch, great coffee, the raw pancake is an absolute masterpiece. The dinner menu is amazing, very creative and unique. Kudos to the chef. Julie McGuigan (on Hamlet’s Eatery) Haven’t had a bad meal there yet! Brittany Coblent (on Hamlet’s Eatery): I’m not even vegan, but Hamlet’s has amazing options that I choose every time. Rose Schmidt (on Ka Papa Cuisine): Superb delicious organic fresh and healthy. Everything there is so good but my favorites are the sweet potato, warm brie, and the basil/ walnut pesto with arugula. And then the deserts! So hard to choose, they are all so good, but the sorbet and the lemon/ lavender cake are my favorites with the cast iron chocolate chip cookie running very close.

BEST ALFRESCO DINING Hamlet’s Eatery

From Disney World to the Keys, Florida has endless reasons to stick around. The simple pleasure of eating outside in January, however, may be one of the best. While our neighbors up north are dressed for the Arctic tundra just to grab a coffee, we Floridians can sit back and relax in the dead of December with the sun shining as we sip cocktails seaside. HAMLET’S EATERY proved the best spot to soak in the sun, placing Platinum, while MAR VISTA DOCKSIDE RESTAURANT glistened into Gold. INDIGENOUS RESTAURANt had Sarasotans dining in the Silver-win light of the moon, while GOOD LIQUID BREWING had us basking in its Bronze glow. When you just can’t get enough of the great outdoor-dining, try Honorable Mention Clasico Italian Chophouse.

Brock Maddox (on Indigenous Restaurant): Unbelievable! Angela Massaro-Fain (on Good Liquid Brewing): The food is very good, great selection and dining while you have the Waterside lake as your backdrop, is lovely. Candace Shuman (on Good Liquid Brewing): Love the views and atmosphere and the food is consistently great as well as the service

BEST LOCAL INDIAN FOOD

Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine

Looking for some naan-stop deliciousness? We’ve got you covered. TANDOOR FINE INDIAN CUISINE tikka’d all the right boxes to pull a Platinum win, while TURMERIC INDIAN BAR AND GRILL said aloo to the right customers to grab Gold. CURRY STATION had people paneer-ing in the streets for their sensational Silver spot, and MAHARAJA INDIAN CUISINE was lucky with their chutney—Bollywood dancing their way to the Bronze spot.

Steph Ouellette (on Turmeric): Delicious every time! G.O (on Maharaja) Maharaja has the best (affordable!) lunch buffet around with a wide variety of appetizers, entrees and desserts. Every time I go the selection is different so I am able to try all kinds of new dishes. The staff are accommodating and friendly, Maharaja is truly a fantastic dining experience. Katie Taylor (on Tandoor) We love Tandoor. The food is great and flavorful. You can taste the quality and the staff are friendly, accommodating and attentive!.

LEFT: From Taylor Swift’s
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BEST KOREAN RESTAURANT Kôre Steakhouse

Who was able to bibimbap their way to the top this year? Come with me and kimchi who we have in store. KORE STEAKHOUSE places Platinum, while guests of Gold-winning CHARLIE’S BULGOGI are in for a Seoulful experience. KOREAN SSAM BAR was ferment to be your Silver winner this year and K-NAM KOREAN BBQ & SUSHI didn’t have to mandu much to prove they were a Bronze best. Looking for more fun and banchan? Try Honorable Mention Shilla Korean Restaurant.

Jinsung Park (on Kore): Best Korean food I ever had. Very authentic. Rodolfo Lee (on Kore): Best atmosphere and experience. Always the best cuts. Brenda Musall (on Charlie’s Bulgogi): Charlie and his wife are the most welcoming people I have ever met. Their food is prepared and served with love. They are always there to make every customer feel special. Michael Cox (on Korean Ssam Bar): Very authentic and friendly. Amanda Just (on Shilla Korean Restaurant): Very vegan friendly!

BEST LOCAL BRUNCH First Watch

Ah, brunch. The ultimate meal time mashup. Where you can eat a burger at 9 am or pancakes at 3 pm without judgment. Did we mention the addition of breakfast booze? For all those looking for an acceptable place to wash down your waffles with champagne, we suggest this brunch of winners.

FIRST WATCH is here to mimosa your day as Sarasota’s Platinum pick, while THE BREAKFAST COTTAGE griddled their way to Gold. SUN GARDEN COTTAGE had diners having a bloody-Mary good time, snagging the Silver spot, and ATRIA CAFE and KA PAPA CUISINE got everyone lost in a dreamy hollandaise, bringing them home the bacon— we mean Bronze. Check out Honorable Mention Fork & Hen SRQ for when you need your early morning or late afternoon flapjack fix.

Gabriel Wood (on First Watch): I love the Million Dollar Bacon! Jessica McCord (on First Watch): They make the best brunch every time! The staff is wonderful, and I love eating there. I would choose First Watch over any other brunch spot. Paulene Soublis (on The Breakfast Cottage): Love their giant cinnamon rolls! Nikki Bernitt (on The Breakfast Cottage): Such a fun and unique spot. Huge menu and everything is always fantastic. Lara D’Agostino (on Sun Garden Cottage): Delicious! And a great vibe. Wilma Chang (on ATRIA Cafe): The best restaurant in Lakewood Ranch. Grant Stratton (on Ka Papa): I love the vegan poached egg made of tofu. Unbelievable that those are vegan. Lisa Williams (on Forked at Waterside): Great kinky bellini, great bowls & awesome crepes.

BEST LOCAL RAMEN Fushipoke & Ramen

Ramen in the States is no longer associated with the bright orange pack of salty noodles we all scarfed down in college. The dish has been properly restored to its Japanese glory as an umami-packed flavor sensation, worthy of slowly sipping and slurping its brothy, noodly goodness. This year, FUSHIPOKE & RAMEN steamed the competition to place Platinum, while YOKOSO RAMEN was a Gold win to ramen-ber. There is no miso-understading, our soup-er Silver winner was FORK & HEN SRQ, and NAMO IZAKAYA RAMEN AND YAKITORI was impossible to ig-nori, taking home Bronze.

Gina Caro (on Fushipoke & Ramen): Fushipoke is the best and the freshest! Love their drink selection and their little Asian market inside. Beatrice Sims (on Namo Izakaya Ramen and Yakitori): They have the best curry ramen in existence! It’s literally the only place I know in Florida where you can try true Japanese food that you can’t find anywhere else! Franchesca Celine Davis (Namo Izakaya Ramen and Yakitori): Authentic ramen feels like you’re in Japan. Very rare to find a spot like this in Sarasota.

BEST LOCAL SEAFOOD

Walt’s Fish Market Restaurant

We can sea what all the fuss is about—there are too many good places to pick from! Thankfully, Sarasotans didn’t clam up and were ready to tell us all about who they were shrimp-ly in love with this year. WALT’S FISH MARKET RESTAURANT washed up onshore to be plucked for Platinum, while OWEN’S FISH CAMP o-fish-ally became the Gold standard. THE MAINE LINE reeled in a Silver spot, and TRIPLETAIL SEAFOOD AND SPIRITS wasn’t squidding around with their seafood, taking home Bronze. Need some more kelp finding a spot? Holy mackerel! Check out Honorable Mentions Brine Seafood and Raw Bar, Veronica Fish and Oyster and Kacey’s Seafood & More.

Linda Shepard (on Walt’s): Family owned business for many years and it is the freshest seafood you’ll ever find in Sarasota. Carla Repollet (on Walt’s): Love those crab legs. Paul Florindez (on Owen’s Fish Camp): The best fish. I never had so delicious. Shannon Shmilovitz (on The Maine Line): The Maine Line offers the most succulent tasting lobster! Everything on their menu is outstanding! John Peavey (on Tripletail Seafood and Spirits): Fresh, local, large menu, great specials, amazing hospitality, creative cocktails and the highest quality seafood in Sarasota. Nancy Van Niel (on Brine Seafood): Amazing crab cakes! Impeccable service & relaxing ambiance. Tracey Clayton (on Veronica): Since they opened this place is number one for seafood in Sarasota. The hip vibe and funky decor give the perfect atmosphere and they have hands down the best and skillfully shucked oysters —all east coast all the time. The staff is top notch and hardly any turnover! Misty Johnson (on Anna Maria Oyster Bar): Delicious seafood, great hospitality, and fun atmosphere!

BEST LOCAL FOOD TRUCK The Maine Line

Why go to the restaurant when the restaurant can go to you? Such is the business model of the food truck—meals on wheels that bring the best bites to the people. THE MAINE LINE put the pedal to the Platinum medal and took home the number one spot. A short drive from the top was HAMLET’S EATERY, gearing into Gold, while MOUTHOLE BBQ parked itself in Silver. BIG BLUE GRILLED CHEESE closed out the competition with Bronze. Don’t miss these Honorable Mentions driving around town when looking for your next street savvy sensation —Vesuvio Wood Fired Pizza, Clean Plate SRQ and Brown’s Food Factory.

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RIGHT: Cookies from Platinum Winner Tutu’s cookies forming Taylor Swift’s favorite number, 13.

Best Local Cookies

TUTU’S COOKIES

Bill Forrest (on The Maine Line): My wife and I grew up in Maine and love the Maine style “Italian” sandwiches and the “Lobstah.” We live in Leesburg but are very familiar with the Sarasota area and sometimes drive to Sarasota just for a sandwich. Julie McGuigan (on Hamlet’s Eatery): Best hot dog ever, amazing avocado toast, best food. John Jacob (on Mouthole BBQ): They have such a diverse menu. Always new amazing specials on their menus. Edina Vanyi (on Big Blue Grilled Cheese): This food truck is our local favorite. Brenna and her husband Jose are wonderful people with beautiful smiles. The care they show for the customers is top notch and it really shines through with their delicious sandwiches and tomato soup too! Noreen Martin (on Big Blue Grilled Cheese): They have the best grilled cheese sandwiches. If you love just plain grilled cheese or a unique one they have you covered. Their tomato soup is amazing too. Hanna Stebbins (on Vesuvio Wood Fired Pizza): They are so friendly, they’ve

created the best atmosphere with not only their personalities but the efficiency with tons of orders. It’s so fast and the quality of the pizza is by far the best I’ve ever had in Sarasota. I couldn’t imagine not eating this pizza at least once a week!

Maurizio ‘d’Ambrosio (on Vesuvio): Feels like I traveled back to Naples, Italy every time I eat their pizza! Vlad Tereshkov (on Clean Plate SRQ): Never have I ever thought that a food truck could rival a gourmet 5-star restaurant. Every bite from Clean Plate Club SRQ is a delightful surprise, blending unique flavors with classic comfort. As a fervent food lover, finding this gem on wheels has been my highlight of the year. The chef’s passion is evident in every meticulously crafted dish, and their talent truly shines through. I urge everyone to treat their taste buds to this culinary marvel. This isn’t just food; it’s an experience! Hands down, my go-to spot for unparalleled taste and quality.

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BEST LOCAL ITALIAN

Valentino Pizzeria Trattoria

No need to go Rome-in around for your next taste of Italy. When you need a Pisa authentic pizza pie or a plate of pasta, check out these Sarasota Naples. VALENTINO PIZZERIA TRATTORIA proved Positano-ly Platinum, while NAPULE gnocchi’d for the Gold. CAFE BARBOSSO was a linguini dream in Silver, while MEDITERRANEO said pest-no to the rest and won Bronze. There’s m-orzo than enough places to try, so next time you’re in the mood for noods, alfred-go to Honorable Mentions Dolce Italia and Rico’s Pizzeria.

Chelsea Meagher (on Valentino Pizzeria Trattoria): Such amazing food! I’m never disappointed. The staff is always friendly. Claudia Govic (on Napulé): Very Italian and savory. Service is exceptional. Marge McCarthy (on Napulé): No words can express the pleasure. Jovanna and Pepe treat us so well. We don’t go as often as we like because it’s about 40 minutes in good traffic. Staff is welcoming and Jovanna was willing to make my favorite dish. So sweet! Beatrice Sims (on Cafe Barbosso): Chef Joe is the absolute best. The food is to

die for! I always bring my out of town friends here for dinner! Grace Edwards (on Mediterraneo): Just returned from Italy to go to my favorite Italian restaurant in town. It is the best Italian food and has a great atmosphere. Felt like I was back in Italy again. Gloria Bandy (on Dolce Italia) What’s not to like? The food, the service, the family atmosphere—all the best!

BEST LOCAL BREAD Bread Bandits

Bread lovers—arise! There were lots of contenders this year, but Bread Bandits was the apple of our readers’ rye, taking home Platinum. The next best thing to sliced bread? Gold winner RENDEZ-VOUS FRENCH BAKERY, while C’EST LA VIE gave us something to challah-bout with a Silver win. Knead another spot? That should be the yeast of your worries with this year’s roundup—buttering us up with Bronze is MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET. Don’t let your selection go stale! Try Honorable Mentions ATRIA Cafe and Fork & Hen SRQ.

Claudia Govic (on Bread Bandits): The best sourdough and yeast breads I’ve ever had! Riccardo Renna (Bread Bandits): They were the best surprise here in Sarasota. As an European, and Italian, I have a love for bread and finding something

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closer to European style. Naomi Glatzer (on Rendez Vous French Bakery): The best baguette and cranberry walnut bread! Delicious. Patricia Healey (on C’est La Vie): C’est la Vie was the first café where I dined when I moved to Sarasota. I walked in knowing nothing. I have lived here for six years now and I have not found better. Love that onion soup! Terese Bollman (on ATRIA Cafe): Their rustic loaf is huge and delicious; never have I ever tasted bread so fresh and delicious. Johanna Eccles (on ATRIA Cafe): I never liked sourdough until I tried Atria’s. It is the perfect degree of sharp, sour and smooth brand of bread.

BEST LOCAL CEVICHE Selva Grill

Sushi might have the monopoly on raw fish, but there’s another contender in town—the equally delicious but criminally underrated ceviche. “Cooked” in the acidic juice of its lemon-y lime marinade, it’s the perfect bite on a hot day— chilled, refreshing and bursting with flavor. SELVA GRILL took home the Peruvian Platinum, while DARWIN EVOLUTIONARY CUISINE got Gold. Another South of the Border best— PERUVIAN GRILL proved a fresh catch, snagging Silver, while FORK & HEN SRQ alpaca’d a punch and brought home Bronze.

Autumn McConnell (on Selva Grill): I have ordered the Tuna Tiradito at least 75 times over the years. The tuna layered with watermelon and the rich sweet sauce drizzled over the top creates the perfect blend of mouth watering bliss! Dana Johnson (on Darwin Evolutionary Cuisine): Chef Darwin is one of the most genuine, creative chef’s I’ve ever met and his creations are true to his vision. Melissa Voigt (on Peruvian Grill) Unsuspectingly exceptional. Family-like atmosphere with obsessively devoted patrons. And that’s a good thing!

SHOPPING &RETAIL

BEST LOCAL BOUTIQUE

Darci Boutique

Looking for that perfect top or Cardigan is a dilemma, we know All Too Well, but Sarasota has a bountiful supply of boutiques where we can shop ‘til we drop. DARCI BOUTIQUE, which has enough great stuff to turn anyone into a bag lady, took our Platinum place, while SURGE STYLE BOUTIQUE cinched Gold. EYECATCHER BY PJ’S BOUTIQUE helped us pur-shoe our shopping dreams as the Silver winner, and MOTEL THERAPY BOUTIQUE blaze’rd into Bronze. Honorable Mentions Coral & Reef Boutique, Butter Curated Thrift, Toni’s Too, Influence Style, Blue Palm Candle Co., Foxy Lday, Adeline’s Mystic Earth and L. Boutique are calling all closets—they’ve got the right threads to dress you for success.

Cynthia Millar (on Darci’s): Darci has a wide range of clothing from casual to cocktail. Her attention to detail is impeccable. She will outfit you to be the talk of the town. Denise Johnston (on Darci’s): Her clothes are amazing, different and made to fit a normal person not a runway model. Always fabulous styles. Ale Kushner (on Surge) Great shop to find a cute casual or dressy outfit! Something for everyone. Also carries JMP swimsuits. Jackie Williams (on Surge): Range of selection, lots of cute stuff, price ranges and all the extra events they put on like the fashion shows! So fun! Sandy Alexander (on Eyecatcher): Lisa and her stylists care for their customers like dressing their family members. They’re very personable

and passionate about their clothes and pass that feeling onto the customers. Lisa Charnicharo (on Eyecatcher): Unique finds great quality brands and great customer service. Sarah Seay (on Motel Therapy): Motel Therapy is one of the few boutiques here in Sarasota that cater towards the younger demographics! We love visiting Kendall and checking out the new pieces she puts out every few weeks. The shop also has a permanent jewelry studio by Modrn Luxe Jewels inside the shop and hosts events/pop ups frequently with other small businesses. Located in the heart of Burns Court, it’s the perfect spot to grab a coffee next door, go shop with your friends and enjoy the art within the district. Terri Beach (on Coral & Reef Boutique): Coral & Reef has a very pleasant and welcoming atmosphere. Its owner, Christin Lilly, is always gracious and helpful any time I need assistance. I find many great styles and options in wardrobe and accessory pieces while shopping. Lots of great deals. Kris Anderson (on Butter Curated): Set some time aside as there is a lot to see in this cleverly decorated shop. Jaclyn Winters (on Blue Palm Candle Co): Their story and mission is amazing. I also love their incredible scents that perfectly encapsulate the best of our local area. Great gifts with a unique flair. Mary Rouse Thiem (on Foxy Lady St. Armands): Growing up here, they were the go-to place for prom dresses. In my 20s and 30s, they were the best place to shop for party and gala attire. My maid of honor bought her dress there. Now that I’m in my 50s I love going in to find something with that extra sparkle for the holidays.

BEST RESALE/CONSIGNMENT Shuffle Furnishings

These days, second best is a cut above the rest. These clothes have character, and each purchase helps you live by the three Rs —reduce, reuse, recycle. And, refresh—your closet. SHUFFLE FURNISHINGS is a repurposed Platinum, followed by Gold winner THE EXCHANGE INC. that gives those gogo boots another go -go CREATIVE HANDS OF SARASOTA shows secondhand can win you Silver and WORLD’S ATTIC THRIFT SHOP is brand-new-old Bronze. Give clothes at these Honorable Mentions a second chance to be styled: Butter Curated Thrift; Fifi’s Fine Resale Apparel; The Woven Home, Sustainable Furniture and Decor; Designing Women Boutique; and PEL Consignments.

Ramona Rogers (on Shuffle): They take older pieces of furniture which are no longer wanted, and turn them into pieces of absolute art—so unique and expressive. Sam King (on The Exchange Inc): They have an expansive collection of things to choose from. Louise Hauser (on World’s Attic Thrift Shop): There’s always a surprise and sale waiting at World’s Attic. When I donate to or shop at World’s Attic, I know I’m also supporting local and global charities. Kim Livengood (on Creative Hands of Sarasota): Creative Hands of Sarasota is a fun little shop inside The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime. It’s filled with great vintage and collectible treasures. Barbara has an eye for finding unique items. She is very inexpensive because her goal is to keep being able to scour the area for new things to offer. Michael Bridges (on Butter): They have very unique items at great prices . Not your typical consignment shop which makes it above the rest. Graham Griffiths (on The Woven Home): Very fair prices and quality merchandise. Stacy Goode (on The Woven Home): The merch in this thrift store is carefully curated by Carolyn and Dee elevating the stereotypical thrift store to a curio, repurposed, reimagined, gently used, vintage, antique shop. Simply unique and delightful. Always different and an asset to the community.

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LEFT: Platinum winner Cakes by Ron’s cupcake creations Speaks Now for themselves.

BEST LOCAL GIFT SHOP

The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime

The gift that keeps on giving? Technically —more gift shops. We might call Sarasota home, but it’s also a tourist haven, which gives us locals plenty of cutesy knickknacks and just-for-fun wares. THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT AND LIME is a Platinumwinning place for picking out your next present—even if it’s just for you. Grab your purse and head to Gold-winning MEHRDIVINE or spend the afternoon—and your paycheck— at SALT YOUR SOUL GIFT CO., our Silver winner. You better believe our Bronze pick BLUE DOOR SPA & SALON has all the goodies for your next gift bag. Stock up on stocking stuffers at Honorable Mentions Pineapple Kitchen; Butter Curated Thrift; Scandinavian Gifts, Baked Goods & Grocery; Blue Palm Candle Co.; Discover Sarasota Tours; SMH Gift Shop; and Sun Served Bespoke Picnics and Gifts.

Alexis Kepchar (on The Bazaar): They have everything. Nothing but small, local businesses. Jeanie Glass (on The Bazaar): Original creations by local artists, many on site. I love the variety & creativity of the artists whose works are featured there. Sherice Roesicke (on MehrDivine): Handmade items that are so cute and well priced. Leandra Withrow (on Salt Your Soul Gift Co.): First of all, Jen, the owner, is the nicest human on earth. She carries all the best plants and crystals, and has the best fun and funny gifts. She’s also always down to support other local small businesses. Martha Meyers (on Salt Your Soul Gift Co.): What a groovy place to spend some time. The smells, the sights and all those gorgeous plants. A bit of Heaven on Earth. Kris Anderson (on Butter): You will find this shop tucked in between a barber shop, Fresko’s Fades and a hairdresser, Kimmie’s on Superior Avenue—unusually tasteful. Cheryl Swenney (on Blue Palm Candle Co): The candles are awesome. High quality and special touches for gift giving.

BEST LOCAL FLORIST

Beneva Flowers and Plantscapes

Wake up and smell the roses—and tulips and carnations and daisies at these unbe-leaf-ably talented florists. For your next concert, no matter the era, show your love for Taylor with some tulips tossed on the stage. Like shows of yesteryear—1989 all the way back to Shakespeare florals are the perfect way to fawn. Chrysanthemums are the new clapping. Amaranth is the new applause. BENEVA FLOWERS AND PLANTSCAPES has pollen into our readers’ good graces, taking home Platinum, while MYSTIC BLOOMS grow for the Gold. Nothing seed-y about our Silver-winning MINDFUL BLOOMS FARM; they’ve got just the bouquet to blow you away. Last, look out for our budding Bronze winner FLOWERS BY FUDGIE FLORIST. Honorable Mentions Suncoast Florist and Victoria Blooms know the perfect arrangements to take your baby’s-breath away.

Ilka Rodriguez (on Beneva Flowers): Their arrangements are always stunning. Karen Sellers (on Mystic Blooms): They are local and easy to communicate with. Beautiful fresh arrangements. Do their own local deliveries. They are the best. Yvonne Tucker (on Mystic Blooms): Easy to work with. Understood exactly what I was looking for in a floral arrangement with the perfect amount of creative detail. Nailed it! Very professional. Beth Escobar (on Mindful Blooms Farm): If you are looking for something really special, look no further than Mindful Blooms Farms. The owner, Sophie Wettstein is passionate about her homegrown, organic flowers. She artfully arranges her gorgeous blooms into stunning bouquets. Tekla

Crary (on Mindful Blooms Farm): Mindful Blooms farms is special to me because of the owner Sophie. I have had the privilege of getting a behind the scenes look at just how much work and care she puts into everything she does. She works around the clock to ensure that every client gets the perfect bouquet, flower arch, table setting, you name it. She brings light and life to every situation just like the flowers she grows. I love Mindful Blooms because Sophie is the embodiment of her product. Her flowers are a representation of her. The passion she has for growing is infectious. She has made Sarasota/ Bradenton more beautiful and connected to live in. Melissa Voigt (on Flowers by Fudgie Florist): For everything!

BEST LOCAL EYEGLASS STORE

Only Eyes Optical Boutique

Readers only had eyes for these eyeglass stores, keeping their vision 20/20 and their style 10/10. Up first, ONLY EYES OPTICAL BOUTIQUE is the Platinum with CENTER FOR SIGHT making a crystal-clear case for Gold. SOTO’S OPTICAL BOUTIQUE is a Silver-winning sight for sore eyes, while SPECTACLE GALLERY is here to Bronze win the blur away.

Diana Reason (on Only Eyes Optical Boutique): This small family owned business has a lot of unique eyewear. The doctor and the staff are very professional and friendly. Always helping me to find the perfect eyeglasses. Olivia M (on Only Eyes Optical Boutique): Kind, informative employees that make the eyeglass appointment process swift and comfortable! I absolutely recommend them for eye services, and for funky glasses too. Angela Massaro-Fain (on Center for Sight): Still the best! Eduardo Anaya (on Spectacle Gallery): Amazing selection and caring staff.

BEST LOCAL WATERSPORTS SHOP Compound Boardshop

When you’re looking to get sand between your toes, check out these wave-worthy water sports shops for your next stop. COMPOUND BOARDSHOP picks up Platinum with ECONOMY TACKLE/DOLPHIN PADDLESPORTS going for Gold. Still need another suit? The bathing variety? Head to Silver-winning FLORIDA UNDERWATER SPORTS for all your underwater utilities.

Kelly Hazledine (on Compound Boardshop): Great staff. Great choices. Comfortable atmosphere. They are locally owned and help the community which is a huge plus for me. Joy Randels (on Florida Underwater Sports): The team at FUSE is amazing! They take the time to work personally with every customer and new scuba student to make sure they are well trained, comfortable, and safe. From the pool behind the shop to strip across Florida and around the world they always go above and beyond. The volunteer work they do from partnering with MOTE to training at-risk children to dive is one of the many reasons they are simply the best shop in our region.

BEST LOCAL PET BOUTIQUE Wet Noses Grooming Sarasota

Let’s face it—your dog is adorable, but after a day at the park, it’s also smelly. To get your pet’s fur back to fabulous, stop by these hairball-stopping boutques for that purr-fect pampering to spoil them like Taylor’s cats. WET NOSES GROOMING SARASOTA paws its way to the top, taking home Platinum, while HOLISTIC FOR PETS sinks its claws into Gold. THREE DOG BAKERY has biscuits worth their bark, coming in Silver, followed by DOGPERFECT-UNIVERSITY PARK, which groomed their way to a Bronze finish.

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RIGHT: Platinum Winner and Best Local Veterinarian Kamryn Kurtz of Animal Medical Clinic of Gulf Gate recreating Taylor Swift’s appearance as the Person of the Year on the cover of TIME magazine.

Best Local Veterinarian

ANIMAL MEDICAL CENTER OF GULF GATE

Simon Stone (on Wet Noses Grooming Sarasota): My dogs love the folks at Wet Noses more than they love me! They do not want to come home after grooming. It’s wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Danilo Zuniga-Pedrianes (Wet Noses Grooming Sarasota): Reliable and excellent friendly service! My pups will vote for them if they could! Anne Cederberg (on Holistic For Pets): They have gone above and beyond in helping me find ways to help my elderly cat. Their staff is friendly, resourceful and just plain wonderful. Melody Martin (on Holistic For Pets): I’ve got two very small yorkies with considerable food allergies. Holistic for Pets has been very extremely helpful in finding foods they both can eat. The team is very friendly and helpful. Iolanda Goodfellow (on DOGPerfect-University Park): Smaller and more hands on with a great grooming department.

BEST LOCAL JEWELER Jewelry By LuisFer

The Girl with the Pearl Earring, Carrie Bradshaw’s nameplate necklace, Marilyn Monroe’s diamonds—jewelry can be as iconic as the person wearing it. Even for us common folk, it can be fun to take a page out of the Hollywood handbook and decide to find ourselves a signature strand of jewels. Or a riveting ring. Or an eye-catching pair of earrings. Like a personalized perfume, a permanent piece of jewelry can catapult you from sidekick to main character. Oh, her? She’s the one with the emerald hoops. That guy? The one with the signet ring? Trust us, it makes a statement. And where to procure such a special piece? Look no further than these jewelers. Positively Platinum is JEWELRY BY LUISFER, followed by all the glittery Gold at H&M JEWELRY AT THE BAZAAR. Sparkles can be found at the aptly winning Silver— SILVER CITY SARASOTA—and DIAMOND VAULT JEWELERS bedazzles in Bronze. Don’t miss Honorable Mentions Milan’s Jewelry and Classic Creations in Diamonds & Gold.

Carolina Delcid (on Jewelry by LuisFer): He’s the best. Kind and reasonable prices. Douglas Dulak (on Classic Creation in Diamonds and Gold): All great, friendly people and very knowledgeable with fine jewelry. Can also make or get you anything you desire. Paulo Monzon (on Jewelry by LuisFer): Exclusive jewelry design. If you are looking to create a jewel —this is the best place. Kathy Campion (on Classic Creation in Diamonds and Gold): They are friendly, excellent at what they do and reasonably priced.

BEST LOCAL BIKE SHOP Village Bikes

When you need to put the pedal to the metal but you still want to be environmentally conscious, the humble bike is the way to go. With sunshine all year and a constant seabreeze to keep you cool, Sarasota is a cycling paradise. For all things two wheels and hot deals, check out Platinum winner VILLAGE BIKES or head over to POPCYCLES BIKE SHOP for a Gold-winning wheelie. RYDER BIKES races home to Silver. When you’re twotired to fix your own CRANK AND PADDLE E-BIKES, our Bronze winner is a spoke-tacular pick.

Melissa Voigt (on Village Bikes): Great inventory and full service. Ilka Rodriguez (on POPcycles Bike Shop): Great service and a knowledgeable staff. Susan Borozan (on Ryder Bikes): Great selection and best customer service.

BEST LOCAL BRIDAL SHOP Barbie’s Boutique

Here comes the bridal shop, la la la la. Saying your vows might be everlasting, but let’s not forget that saying yes to the dress is equally epic. When you’re getting ready for your perfect Love Story, these shops will have you ready to marry Mr. Perfectly

Fine. BARBIE’S BOUTIQUE was our readers’ match bridesmaid in heaven—taking the Platinum. THE PERFECT DRESS OF SARASOTA had the right reception and got Gold. Next up, MONICA’S BRIDAL BOUTIQUE said yes to Silver, and TRULY FOREVER BRIDAL SARASOTA was the toast of the town, taking home Bronze. Keep on enjoying your happily ever after with Honorable Mention Something Blue Bridal Boutique. Theresa Stanek (on Barbie’s Bridal Boutique): Erika is so helpful and has so many things she can offer. She really listened to what I was looking for and gave me great choices and customer service! Serena Migliore (on The Perfect Dress of Sarasota): I found my dress here and they are nothing short of excellent! The consultants that I worked with—Julia and Steph—were amazing and listened to my wants and needs. I was so excited to say yes to my perfect dress here and cannot wait to wear it on my wedding day. Bill Motherway (on Monica’s Bridal Boutique): Monica’s boutique is a family-owned shop proudly offering unique designs and caters to one bride at a time which helps guarantee professional, superlative work. Debra Burger (on Something Blue Bridal Boutique): Looks are deceiving for this shop. They have quite the selection upstairs.

BEST LOCAL MARINE SUPPLIES Economy Tackle/Dolphin Paddlesports

No need to cast your line too far—there are plenty of marine supplies looking for a bite when you’re sitting there by the water. ECONOMY TACKLE/DOLPHIN PADDLESPORTS picks up a Platinum wave, while HART’S LANDING grabs our gills for Gold. BOAT GUYS OF SARASOTA swims into Silver and BOAT OWNERS WAREHOUSE has readers taking the bait for Bronze. Tracy Bowsher (on Economy Tackle / Dolphin Paddlesports): The best service—been buying from them for years. Sarah Baldwin (on Hart’s Landing): They are always the friendliest staff and have all the bait and tackle needed.

BEST MUSEUM GIFT SHOP

Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

While every art heist movie has taught us it’s best not to try and take a Picasso home, you can get your fine art fix in the museum gift shop, where your favorite print has been reimagined into not only a painting but a magnet, and a coffee mug, and a calendar and— the list goes on and on. MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS painted the correct numbers to win Platinum, while THE JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART has the gift of grabbing Gold. SARASOTA ART MUSEUM has the shops to drop into Silver, and THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE boasts a Bronze-winning collection of goodies. End your visit with Honorable Mention Ringling College of Art and Design Galleries. Debra Burger (on The Ringling Museum): I can’t resist their shop after a day at Ringling. Patti Wrobel (on The Ringling Museum): Items for all ages, and excellent quality. Susan Borozan (on Sarasota Art Museum): Great gifts. Terrific design.

BEST LOCAL BEACH STORE Compound Boardshop

Feeling lost at sea and not shore where to look? We’ve got you covered—with hats, towels and sunscreen, of course. These beach stores will have you sandcastle-ready no matter the sea-son. COMPOUND BOARDSHOP surfed into Platinum, and CORAL & REEF BOUTIQUE was our Gold pick, having readers saying shell yeah! BEACH BAZAAR paddled into Silver and The STOKED FLAMINGO burned up the votes for a Bronze win. Looking to be sun-kissed with more options? Try Honorable Mention Siesta Bikinis.

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SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE~ GOLD WINNER 2024

Joshua Cady (on Compound Boardshop): The Compound Boardshop is a favorite among board riders, but also attracts those who enjoy a salty lifestyle. Between the interior design that focuses on the local scene and the employees who all share that same passion, Compound Boardshop makes you feel at home and invigorates the stoke. Nicole Regan (on Beach Bazaar): They are the best priced and have everything you need. Matthew Peterson (on The Stoked Flamingo): Best selections of men’s goods in the area. From the beach to a night on the town, Stoked Flamingo has it. Stocks items and brands only available at this location. Dixie Coder (on Siesta Bikinis) This store is next level for swimwear. There is nothing like it in our area. Monica Dean (on Siesta Bikinis): An amazing bikini store with unique and gorgeous suits! Amazing selection.

FOOD &LIBATIONS

BEST LOCAL COFFEE Rise Up Cafe

“Let’s fast forward to three hundred takeout coffees later.” The caffeinated queen of beverages—coffee—has our readers livin’ la vida mocha. Pouring up a Platinum roast is RISE UP CAFE, while PROJECT COFFEE takes Gold, serving up just the right espresso to take away the early morning depresso. Take a sip of Silver-winning COAST TO COAST COFFEE or head to ATRIA CAFE and O&A COFFEE— our Bronze winners who tied, keeping us grounded with coffee we love a latte. Try out Honorable Mention Perq Coffee Bar for a brew-ti-ful day

Best NewLocal Business

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ICE HOUSE AND DOG BAR
BOO’S
2024

Beaver Shriver (on Rise Up Cafe): This amazing cafe in downtown Sarasota (soon to be moving to SRQ Airport) offers delicious coffees (and food!) prepared and served by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Top shelf and heartwarming at the same time. Andrea Murdoch (on Rise Up Cafe): Truly great coffee and always served with warm smiles. Kat Schuetz (on Project Coffee): Great vibes. Nice people. Fabulous vegan food. Tasty juices and kombucha. Spectacular house roasted, organic coffee. Courtney Leverenz (on Coast to Coast): Every time I go in there is something new to try. The owners are knowledgeable and always have good conversations. I would never recommend going anywhere else for an actual real cup of coffee. Patrick Robinson (on Coast to Coast): Very unique as they only serve pour over single origin coffee and cold brew. Their cold brew is 100% all natural with no added sugars. Terese Bollman (on ATRIA Cafe): They make a Baklava latté with baklava spices, caramelized honey syrup, espresso and top it off with a torched sprig of thyme. My world has not been the same. Galina Naguibine (on O & A Coffee): We love them because they have great coffee as well as an amazing and friendly atmosphere. Taylor Brewster (on Perq Coffee Bar): Great selection and diet restriction friendly.

BEST LOCAL TEA Elixir Tea House

For all our London Boys and girls, these herbalicious blends will have you in a Lavender Haze. When you have so little time and so matcha to do, head over to Platinum pick ELIXIR TEA HOUSE for a cup of happiness. RISE UP CAFE has readers ready to love it for oolong time and takes home Gold. Voters weren’t chai about their love for Silver star ATRIA CAFE and OSCURA had us darjeeling great with their Bronze brew. Check out these posittea-vely wonderful Honorable Mentions: Summer Tap Juice Bar, Kefi Streetside Cafe and Lava Nutrition.

Todd Slaughter (on Rise Up Cafe): A nice variety of hot and iced teas prepared and served by people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. A daily stop for me. Kimberli Hartmark (on ATRIA Cafe): Matcha here is so good! Galina Naguibine (on Summer Tap Juice Bar): Best organic loose leaf tea. Hayna Saulo (on Kefi Streetside Cafe): Best matcha and Greek mountain tea. Amber Henry (on Lava Nutrition): Tea for everyone! Hot, cold and energizing teas with natural caffeine.

BEST LOCAL ICE CREAM Rise Up Cafe

It can be a rocky road to success, but when you find yourself hankering for a sweet treat during the heat of a Cruel Summer we’re cone-fident you’ll love these cool spots. More than just a sugar fix—Swifties know a broken heart can be cured with a relisten of Speak Now (Taylor’s version of course) and a giant pint of your favorite flavor. RISE UP CAFE is the cherry on top scoring Platinum while MAIN STREET CREAMERY will have you set for a sundae funday winning Gold. OLAF’S SIESTA VILLAGE scoops a Silver win and SCOOPS AND SPRINKLES CREAMERY swirls their way to a Bronze victory. Sprinkle your life with a bit more sweetness and try Honorable Mentions American Honey Creamery, Pete’s Sweet Treats Ice Cream, Abel’s Ice Cream, Orange Octopus, or Watson’s Ice Cream.

Andrea Murdoch (on Rise Up Cafe): Their ice cream cookie sandwiches and homemade ice cream are delicious! No additives. Maria Bruno (on Rise Up Cafe): My daughter who is autistic works at Rise Up Cafe and she has been given so much support, fulfillment and compassion by her team members and the community. My daughter and her coworkers and she love going to work and are grateful for the opportunity that many

people with disabilities don’t get. Rise Up Cafe is an example of what this world needs more of because it’s such a positive and kind environment that is missing. Their ice cream is made fresh with the finest ingredients and with more love and enthusiasm you’ll find anywhere. Creamy, dreamy and delectable. Tiffany Grandominico (on Main Street Creamery): This ice cream is heavenly, dense, rich and creamy. Lots of flavors to choose from and they have unique flavors like double dark chocolate and triple peanut butter for the ice cream lover that wants maximum flavor intensity. You can get any ice cream ‘churned’ which makes it the consistency of soft serve. Katharine AdamsLove (on Olaf’s Siesta Village): Best and generous portions! Claudia Govic (on Scoope and Sprinkles Creamery): Their ice cream is simply yummy. Great atmosphere too. Renee Ferreira (on Orange Octopus): Best ice cream in Sarasota! Made in store in small batches. Always delicious. Kim Bailey (on American Honey Creamery): Just a lovey place to go and get a frozen treat. Joan Fairbanks (on Watson’s Ice Cream): Friendly atmosphere, great portions, owners are always pleasant.

BEST LOCAL FRIED CHICKEN Der Dutchman

Our readers’ love for chicken is deep—fried. When you can’t KF-see any other option for dinner, look no further than these top picks, and spread your wings and—fry DER DUTCHMAN pecked its way to Platinum while YODER’S RESTAURANT won a finger-licking good Gold. Sizzling into Silver was FORK & HEN SRQ with MOUTHOLE BBQ crispy-crunching its way to a Bronze victory. Here to ruffle a few feathers is Honorable Mention Chick-N-Nooga.

Nancy Taylor (on Der Dutchman): Broasted not fried, but still the best. Melanie Reda (on Fork & Hen SRQ): Try it on the mac & cheese! Courtney Collins (on Fork & Hen SRQ): Polite staff and great neighborhood spot that deserves the accolade. Danielle Walz (on Mouthole BBQ): The Fried Mother Clucker sandwich! Heidi Smith (on Chick N Nooga): Chick-N-Nooga serves the most crispy, juicy, and flavorful chicken tenders I’ve ever tasted! Try it once and you will be back for more. Also, their Chattanooga Chicken Sauce and Sarasota Sunshine Sauce are delicious to dip the chicken tenders in.

BEST LOCAL SANDWICH Anna’s Deli

Voters showed up in droves to tell us who the bread-winner was this year and we were grilled to see it. ANNA’S DELI made our sand-wishes come true and picked up Platinum, while THE MAINE LINE got the goods for Gold. HAMLET’S EATERY sliced diagonally into Silver, and GEIER’S SAUSAGE KITCHEN was the toast of the town, winning Bronze. There are so many great sandwiches to try in this town, you could make a club. After you try our top four, head over to Honorable Mention Nellie’s Deli. Gina Caro (on Anna’s Deli): Surfer on Marble bread! Hanna Stebbins (on Anna’s Deli): A Sarasota staple. Surfer is the most amazing beach day sandwich since I was 7 years old, heading to the beach with my mom on a random weekend. Love them. George Laios (on The Maine Line): Kurt and Brenda are super. The Lobstah Rolls and Crab Rolls are the best. I drive all the way from Anna Maria to South Sarasota to get them. They are that good! Johanna (on ATRIA Cafe): The first part of a sandwich is the bread. Second, check what’s inside the bread. Time Molnar (on Kurtos Chimney Cakes): The Hungarian Chimney Sub is a one-of-kind sandwich made with freshly oven-baked kurtos bread and delicious European salami. Nothing compares to it. Ildiko Lates (on Kurtos Chimney Cakes): Best vegetarian sandwich ever.

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SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE GOLD WINNER

BEST LOCAL BAGEL Jersey Girl Bagels

Bagels? More like ba-goals! This year’s roundup of the best bagels had Sarasota on a roll. JERSEY GIRL BAGELS had everything to set them up for a Platinum win while LOX AND EGG BAGEL COMPANY was the holey grail for Gold. Next up, 99 BOTTLES TAPROOM & BOTTLE SHOP has a lox on the competition and takes Silver, with BUDDY’S BAGELS (formerly Brooklyn Bagels & Deli) cinnamon-raisin the roof all the way to Bronze. Spread some love at Honorable Mentions Rise Up Cafe and Palm Avenue Deli.

Amanda Mavrikas (on Jersey Girl Bagels): Absolutely delicious. Their bagels and staff are amazing. Omar Escobar (on Lox’ N Egg Bagel Company): There I can eat the best bagel in Sarasota, there is no other like it. Beaver Shriver (on Rise Up Cafe): Wow! Bagels made right at Rise Up Cafe. Called “Not Broken Bagels” because they’re made by the Rise Up team members with disabilities—the bagels may have a bump or be lopsided, but they’re not broken, just like the people who made them—they’re not broken either. This amazing cafe helps their 35 team members with disabilities rise up. Tracey Fried (on Palm Avenue Deli): The lox options are amazing here.

BEST LOCAL BUTCHER Geier’s Sausage Kitchen

Pick up your good ole steaks and sirloins to take home after a hard day’s work. It’d be a miss-steak not to try out the goods from Platinum-winning GEIER’S SAUSAGE KITCHEN, but don’t forget Gold winner MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET for your meaty needs—they’ve got you cured THE CHOP SHOP is a rare treat that places Silver, while GROVE LADDER FARM is the Bronze best, here to hold your ham when you need some help getting dinner ready. What’s the wurst-case scenario? You buy too much? Just skip meatless Monday!

Craig Vorselen (on Geier’s Sausage Kitchen): A Sarasota landmark. Great food, selection, and value. Many German items. Marge McCarthy (on Morton’s Gourmet Market): Too many good things to talk about. Sign up to get points in the program called “local something,” and you get extra perks. Best seafood and meats around, plus their prepared foods are restaurant quality. Take home and serve. No one will ever know.

BEST LOCAL CATERER The Maine Line

When you’re feeling Delicate and would rather hire a Getaway Car than cook dinner, these folks are here to cater to your needs.

THE MAINE LINE serves up Platinum-winning portions, while MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET is a Gold winner that will have you craving more. CORNERSTONE AND COMPANY deserves a braise for their Silver setup and MICHAEL’S ON EAST will have your party guests asking for m-hors-d’oeuvres all night. Don’t count out Honorable Mentions Zildjian Catering, ATRIA Cafe and Mouthole BBQ to put the mostess in your hostess.

Christy Cobb (on The Maine Line): Have a special event?

The Maine Line is there for all your catering needs. Audrey Bradell (on Morton’s Gourmet Market): Refined food with a homemade taste. It is always delicious. Laura Gilkey (on Michael’s On East): In a town that is rich with delicious food and impeccable taste, Michael’s On East somehow remains the gold standard for culinary event design. I am consistently impressed with not only the quality and creativity of their food, but the thoughtfulness of their service. It is a true and unique pleasure to work with them and to attend an event that is touched by their skillful hand.” Anne Miller (on Zildjian Catering): Great use of locally sourced foods. Jerry

Stone (on Zildjian Catering): Excellent ingredients prepared exactly as promised. The proprietors are knowledgeable and professional. Their business is like “Cheers”; everybody knows your name. Glenda Dimino (on Taste of Spain by Tapas and Fun Catering): Best paella and tapas to go as well as catering. So delicious. Lisa Stanley (on Mattison’s Catering Company): The catering team at Mattison’s is amazing! Not only is the food always exceptional but their team takes such good care of their clients through every detail of the planning process alongside all of the vendors they work with creating unforgettable weddings and events. Their reputation precedes them. John Jacob (on Mouthole BBQ): They catered our wedding. The easiest of all the vendors to work with.

BEST LOCAL BREWERY Calusa Brewing

Looking for your next spot to have an ale-arious good time?

We’ve got brew. Locally made craft beers are just a hop, skip and a jump away, and here are our readers’ favorite places. Pulling into Platinum is a tall glass from CALUSA BREWING

Next up is pitcher-perfect BIG TOP BREWING CO., taking the Gold. FLOBUCHA raises the bar at their Silver-winning spot, and MOTORWORKS BREWING makes a brew-tiful Bronze beverage. Honorable Mentions include Sun King Brewery and Good Liquid Brewing Company.

Katie Rauch (on Calusa): They make the best beer in Florida (humble opinion) and the new location and collaboration with Pigfish is super exciting. Rachel Rivera (on Calusa): Great IPA. Their warehouse feels like a family gathering environment. Patricia Sproehnle (on Big Top Brewing): Great beer, food and entertainment. Steve Duaime (on Flobucha): Great atmosphere, love seeing them at the farmer’s market downtown, great product, best ingredients, great concept. Ellian Rosaire (on Big Top Brewing): Great locally brewed craft beers, awesome atmosphere with a great variety of entertainment. Jean Calvello (on Flobucha): The best tasting fresh kombucha ever. Michael Eisenburger (Motorworks Brewing): Midnight Espresso is awesome!

BEST LOCAL WINE SHOP Michael’s Wine Cellar

For the teenage break-up there’s Ben & Jerry’s, for over-thehill heartache—and above the drinking age—your misery might pair well with a merlot. Top that off with a re-listen of the album Red and Ms. Swift will have you wondering what you ever saw in Mr. Perfectly Fine. Sip back and relax—these winners know it’s wine o’clock somewhere. No Champagne Problems here. Readers were partners in wine with Platinum pick MICHAEL’S WINE CELLAR and said chardon-hey to Gold standard grapes at SIESTA KEY WINE BAR. SEAGRAPE WINE COMPANY crushed the competition for a Silver win and SARASOTA WINE CO. bottled up the perfect Bronze. Cheers to Honorable Mention Fine Wine & Tastings on Main.

Courtney Collins (on Siesta Key Wine): Friendly, welcoming, delicious wines and fun events. To top it off, it’s the place I met my husband-to-be! Chuck Fennessy (on Siesta Key Wine Bar): Great selection of phenomenal wines. Great atmosphere. Great owners. Claudia Govic (on Seagrape Wine): An incredible array of wines from Provence with great and personal customer service. Knowledgeable staff. Brooke Levine (on Sarasota Wine): After a 10 month closure due to required construction in their building, Joe and Brooke continue to come back to their beloved Palm Ave. location and build community around wine. Danielle Bromley (on Sarasota Wine): A wonderful young family that show true passion and love for what they do.

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SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ T O P10LOCALPLACESTOWORK

BEST LOCAL COCKTAILS

Cornerstone and Company

“I knew from the first Old-Fashioned we were cursed.” These Sarasota haunts know how to shake up and stir our readers with their creative cocktails. Like a siren sign for James Bond, the perfectly mixed martini will have anyone coming back for more. The fun be-gins at Platinum pour CORNERSTONE AND COMPANY, followed by TRIPLETAIL SEAFOOD & SPIRITS, which makes a Gold-winning drink strong enough tequila mockingbird. STATE STREET EATING HOUSE + COCKTAILS keeps things old-fashioned and keeps guests from Manhattan to Long Island coming back for a sip of their Silver sensations. Bronze winner BAR HANA knows whether you’re feeling cosmopolitan or dark and stormy—the answer to your problems can usually be found at the bottom of a champagne flute, if just for the night. Moji-go to Honorable Mentions Cask & Ale, Memories Lounge, Jack Dusty and Wicked Cantina. Jennifer Halbert (on Tripletail): The drinks are super delicious and creative. John Peavey (on Tripletail): Bartender inspired and created cocktail list changes a couple times a year and there are cocktails for every level of taste and presentation. Smoked drinks, color changing drinks, delicious and strong. Jon Sullivan (on Cask and Ale): Great service, drinks food and music. Christopher Pedersen (on Memories Lounge): The best dive bar in town. John Witte (on Memories Lounge): Not only are the pours at Memories

Best CocktailsLocal

BELOW:

“It’s me! Hi!” from the song

Anti-Hero from Taylor Swift’s Midnights album. Cocktail from Platinum Winner Cornerstone & Co.

heavy, but the bartenders are experts at slinging martinis, old fashioneds, and other bar-room classics. Minta Getzen (on Jack Dusty): They may always be innovating but The Siren is now a Sarasota classic. Mike Dolan (on Wicked Cantina): Margaritas are to die for.

BEST LOCAL HAPPY HOUR

Gecko’s Grill and Pub

Don’t worry, be happy—hour. It’s time—5 o’clock to be precise —to stop and smell the rosé and check out our readers’ favorite spots to sip on slashed-priced perfection. Find your way Out of the Woods and to some of the best Happy Hours SRQ has to offer. GECKO’S GRILL AND PUB gets Platinum for their pours, while LIBBY’S provides some Gold-worthy liquid therapy. Sip on Silver-winning DAIQUIRI DECK delights before heading over to Bronze winner BOO’S ICE HOUSE AND DOG BAR, where the forecast is 100% chance of a stiff drink. Spend the happiest of hours at Honorable Mentions Grove, Kolucan Mexican Bar and Grill, Brewster’s Gastropub, Wicked Cantina, Memories Lounge and B&B Chophouse.

Kathy S (on Gecko’s Grill and Pub): Gecko’s is special because the food, atmosphere & service is always special— and they engage with the community by regularly hosting the local bloodmobile in their parking lot and even host special football team nights for local fans. Gecko’s is great. Kye Dixon (on Daiquiri Deck): No one has a better happy hour

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& CO
CORNERSTONE
SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE ~ SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE ~

than Daiquiri Deck. Longest and best on the key. Dylan Pike (on Daiquiri Deck): Have you tried their daiquiris? Half price during Happy Hour—you can’t beat that. Steph Ouellette (on Boo’s Ice House): Great prices and hilarious entertainment from the dogs! Bobby Boivin (on Boo’s Ice House): Happy hour here is all day long 11pm until 6pm. Stephen Bishop (on B&B Chophouse): Seven days a week, they discount their entire whiskey selection; it’s like 200 varieties, wow. Creative bar bites—my favorite is the Prime Rib sliders.

BEST LOCAL FARMERS MARKET

Sarasota Farmers Market

Where can you go to find adorable homemade trinkets? The bountiful farmers markets of Sarasota have got you covered for all your knickknack needs. Hobbies become homeware with local artists painting, knitting and creating craft with love from them to you. SARASOTA FARMERS MARKET is serving up everything from soaps to strawberries, taking home Platinum, while THE FARMERS’ MARKET AT LAKEWOOD RANCH has Gold-worthy goodies straight from someone’s hands to your home. BRADENTON PUBLIC MARKET steals Silver and PHILLIPPI FARMHOUSE MARKET boasts a Bronze win. Take your reusable bags back to Honorable Mentions Meadows Farmers Market, Wellen Park Farmers Market, The Venice Farmers Market and Olde Englewood Village Farmer’s Market. Melissa Voigt (on Sarasota Farmers Market): To be candid, it’s the only one I can get to being close to downtown. But I hate when I miss a Saturday! Amber Million (on The Farmer’s Market at Lakewood Ranch): They have the best vendors with unique finds that make great gifts and it’s always so easy to navigate. Eric Brown (on Bradenton Public Market): The Downtown Bradenton Public Market is an awesome place to go on Saturdays. Something for everyone. Nicole Hackel (on The Farmer’s Market at Lakewood Ranch): It’s an incredible market. They have fresh veggies, live music, and great to-go food. Plus there is a yoga class before, and free kids’ activities during. A fantastic location as well! Anton Sierra (on Bradenton Public Market): I’ve been attending this market since I was young. So many great memories and interactions. One of the best places to spend your family Saturday. Ashley Millington (on Meadows Farmers Market): I love how inviting the Meadows Farmers Market is. It feels like home when you show up in the community with different vendors, artists, food and events happening every single market. I love hanging out on Sundays listening to music under the oak trees while participating in wellness activities on the lawn. Riina McCormack (on Olde Englewood Village Farmer’s Market): Food, music, more food, art, crafts, clothing, more music and a great little town hosting it all.

BEST LOCAL GROCER Detwiler’s Farm Market

These grocers are for the community and of the community. No national chains holding them back from providing us with the very best of the best. DETWILER’S FARM MARKET places itself in Platinum once again, while MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET safely secures Gold for another year.

Angela Massaro-Fain (on Detwiler’s Farm Market): Nothing beats Detwiler’s selection of food, and fresh vegetables and fruits. Glad they are back open after all the street construction the past two years. Linda Kelly (on Detwiler’s Farm Market): Such an amazing array of produce and seafood.

BEST LOCAL FARM Dakin Dairy Farms

Farm to table is feasible these days with the rise in ranchers tending to the land and steering us away from the grocery store. Buying an apple can seem simple at first when loading up your shopping cart, but where did it come from? Who picked it? What chemicals might be on it? These questions are easily answered when you buy local. From the farmer’s hand to your fridge, these local spots cut out the middleman. DAKIN DAIRY FARMS plants itself at Platinum while JESSICA’S ORGANIC FARM grows for the Gold. HUNSADER FARMS seeds out the competition for Silver and HONEYSIDE FARMS scare-crows away any doubts for a Bronze win. Say hay to Honorable Mention Blumenberry Farms, Gamble Creek Farms and Grove Ladder Farm. Cathy Lignier (on Jessica’s Organic Farm): Best produce! Aniedra Durnell (on Hunsader Farms): They have different events for the holidays. We love going there for their petting zoo, farmer’s market and the tiny town. Such a wonderful place for families to hang out. Alyson Zildjian (on Honeyside Farms): Honeyside has been around for a long time and they are organic and are leaders in the community. Kathryn Kelton (on Blumenberry Farms): Committed to pure, fresh and organic. Gabi Ruiz (on Gamble Creek Farms): From their sustainable practices and natural farming techniques to the delicious offerings at their farm market, Gamble Creek Farms is a local gem. Anne Miller (on Grove Ladder Farm): Locally and responsibly grown foods. Convenient pick up locations.

BEST LOCAL AVOCADO TOAST Hamlet’s Eatery

Lightning in a bottle can strike from the most unassuming of combinations: chocolate and milk. A classic. Peanut butter and jelly. A beloved childhood fave. And the new duo destined for eternal greatness—avocado and toast. Once these two hit menus, breakfast was never the same. There are plenty of places in town to chow down on this artisanal achievement. Voters suggest you try the Platinum plate at HAMLET’S EATERY or get yourself to Gold-winning TOASTIQUE, which has all you avo-wanted FIRST WATCH is a smashing Silver success and ATRIA CAFE is a bravo-cado Bronze. Make a pit stop at Honorable Mentions Sun Garden Café, Lovely Square, Green Zebra Cafe and The Toasted Yolk.

Amber Million (on Hamlet’s Eatery): Chef’s kiss the egg on top with a drizzle of balsamic glaze is amazing. Brittany Coblentz (on Hamlet’s Eatery): It’s different every week! They always do it right. Sammy Stoltz (on Toastique): Each part of the toast is well-thought out and perfectly curated. SB (on Toastique): Yum! This is the best avocado toast. The bread is so good and it will seem like too much to eat but you just won’t be able to stop eating. Tammy Dillon (on First Watch): First Watch has amazing avocado toast that they serve with a lemon which makes it even better. Wilma Chang (on ATRIA Cafe): Yes, yes, yes! The avocado toast is so good, you don’t want to miss.

BEST LOCAL JUICE Crop Juice

Can’t concentrate? Well, we know the ki-wi to feeling better —freshly squeezed juice. Yet again, CROP JUICE was the Platinum-winning apple of Sarasota’s eye, while others gulped some pulp at Gold-winning TOASTIQUE. Squeeze the day at Silver winner PASSION ROOTS or have the lime of your life at Bronze winner SUMMER TAP JUICE BAR. Find your passion-fruit at Honorable Mentions Green Zebra Cafe, SaraFresh Kitchen and Lava Nutrition.

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Sydney Paukert (on Crop Juice): Not only the juice and smoothies, but the employees and community here are incredible. I always feel welcomed in this space and have learned so much about my health and wellness from the employee’s knowledge on their products. I haven’t had one bad thing from here and love getting to visit this place to recharge and fuel my body. Sammy Stoltz (on Toastique): Super fresh, cold pressed juices. Smoothies have unique blends that you can’t find elsewhere. Stephanie DelPrete (on Passion Roots): Passion Roots is my daily go to for my morning smoothie! Their Pink Flamingo is to die for! Rachel Marino (on Passion Roots): The juices and açaí bowls are fantastic. The owners make it even better! Such a great environment to hang out in as well. Galina Naguibine (on Summer Tap Juice Bar): The best natural smoothies without any sugar, additives or powders that taste amazing. And natural justices that are made freshly in front of you. Mimi Esparza (on SaraFresh Juice and Kitchen): Love their fresh pressed juices and organic fresh made almond milk for smoothies. Patti Taylor (on Lava Nutrition): The shakes at Lava are amazing! So thick and creamy. It’s hard to believe something so delicious is healthy.

BEST LOCAL COOKIES Tutu’s Cookies

A dessert good enough to turn us all into a monster—the cookie is the treat to beat. Om nom nom. Don’t be a weirdough, listen to our readers and head to Platinum pick TUTU’S COOKIES—here we crumb! If you’re looking for friend-chip goals, head to Gold-winning CAKES BY RON with your bestie for a delicious time. MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET is a Silver sheet-tray sensation, while CLARABELL COOKIES bakes their way to a Bronze win. Be a smart cookie and try them all!

Colleen Storms (on Tutu’s Cookies): The most delicious homemade cookies ever. Flavors are rotating and incredible. Melt in your mouth. Allyson Pipkin (on Tutu’s Cookies): I love Tutu’s Cookies because of the innovative flavors, and they are absolutely delicious. Rebekah Giles-dugue (on ATRIA Cafe): Sourdough chocolate chunk cookies! So good! Can’t wait for the espresso cookies to make a comeback this winter. Virginia Edwards (on Simply Sweet SRQ): Excellent cookies, especially the shortbread. Any design artistically created. Jordan Sullivan (on Clarabell Cookies): Best cookies hands down! Try the chocolate chip walnut. My #1 favorite. Sue Adey (on Just Baked): Absolutely the best! I packed one in my grandson’s lunch and he broke it apart to share with his friends. The next day they were all looking forward to having more.

BEST LOCAL CUPCAKES Cakes by Ron

Cake it easy—we know all the big spots in town to get yourself a small sweet. Frosting their way to the top this year is CAKES BY RON, followed by MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET, which bakes our readers happy enough to grab Gold. Last up is Bronze-winning SIMPLY SWEETS SRQ, which buttercreams the rest to finish out our voracious voting.

Alicia Rance (on Cakes by Ron): I have been visiting Cakes by Ron for years. The consistency and flavorful cupcakes is by far the best. Ashley Hout (on Cakes by Ron): Family owned and operated. Great customer service and friendly atmosphere. Plus the cakes and cupcakes are amazing too.

BEST LOCAL PIE Yoder’s Restaurant

When you’re a la mode for something sweet, we’ve got our eyes on the pies for where you should go. Another year, another Platinum win for YODER’S RESTAURANT, which our readers clearly like berry much Crust us—you’ll be dough-lighted with Gold-winning DER DUTCHMAN, or give some sugar to Silverwinning MORTON’S GOURMET MARKET. Finishing us off is Bronze winner FLORIBBEAN FLO’S TROPICAL BAKERY, fresh out of the oven and baking us crazy!

Aniedra Durnell (on Yoder’s): I have never tasted better pies than theirs! None of the pies are too sweet. They are made just perfectly with clean ingredients. Anna Sommers (on Yoder’s): It’s become a tradition for us to order pies from them for every special occasion because they truly make the best pies. Nancy Taylor (on Der Dutchman): The best—so many flavors and all are great.

BEST LOCAL BAKERY

Mademoiselle Paris French Restaurant and Bakery

No need to go against the grain—these tried-and-true bakeries are vetted, for goodness bakes. When you’re loafin’ around and need a carb-packed pick-me-up, head to Platinum winner MADEMOISELLE PARIS FRENCH RESTAURANT AND BAKERY. Next on our list are the BREAD BANDITS, who grabbed Gold and stole everyone’s hearts. PAISANO’S ITALIAN BAKERY is bready to party after their Silver win, while CAKES BY RON wheats the rest and takes home Bronze. Try the rye at Honorable Mention Morton’s Gourmet Market and C’est La Vie. Micky Paine (on Mademoiselle Paris): I have eaten here several times—their French bread is outstanding and service is wonderful. Melanie Reda (on Bread Bandits): The croissants are amazing. Craig Vorselen (on C’est La Vie): Just delicious—everything. Rebekah Giles-dugue (on ATRIA Cafe): One word, everything sourdough. Gives me an excuse to indulge even on those cinnamon rolls. Virginia Edwards (on Simply Sweets SRQ): Delicious cakes, cookies and cupcakes. Artistically decorated.

PHILANTHROPY &GIVING BACK

BEST LOCAL NONPROFIT

Satchel’s Last Resort Rescue and Sanctuary

Sarasota would be lost without the selfless souls who dedicate their days to uplifting the community. Asking nothing in return, these organizations strive to support those in need and make this world just a little bit better for the rest of us. The pure hearts at SATCHEL’S LAST RESORT RESCUE AND SANCTUARY place Platinum, while THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD gives Goldstandard guidance for our smaller Sarasotans. Saving lives is Silver winner RESILIENT RETREAT, and HONOR ANIMAL RESCUE barks up the right trees to take home Bronze. We have to give kudos to Honorable Mentions Step Up Suncoast, Child Protection Center, All Faiths Food Bank, Children First, Conservation Foundation, SRQcommunity, SunCoast Blood Center, Oyster Boys Conservation and DD’s Miracle Minis: Miniature Horse Therapy.

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Tamara Barshinger (Satchel’s Last Resort): Most caring rescue in Sarasota. Kerri Deatherage (The Florida Center for Early Childhood): This organization helps children and families with developmental challenges and supports mental health. And the staff is amazing. Stacy Quaid (on Resilient Retreat): Resilient Retreat is providing hope for survivors of trauma, first responders, and helping professionals to thrive. Stephanie Henson (on Honor Animal Rescue): After my mother passed away, they found the perfect home for her Maine Coon cat. Deanna Williams (on Step Up Suncoast): They help people through parenting support, home visits, LIHEAP, rent assistance, self-sufficiency, Rise and Shine/Head Start, and many more. Jane Miller (on Child Protection Center): As a 15 year volunteer for the supervised visitation program for the Child Protection Center, I have never worked with such dedicated people. The staff and volunteers have helped hundreds of families in crisis return to as normal lives as possible. Whatever is needed for the child and family is provided. I am so very proud to be associated with this organization. Isabelle Ball (on All Faith’s Food Bank): They provide the most basic needs to the community- food and security.

BEST LOCAL CHILDREN’S NONPROFIT

The Florida Center for Early Childhood

Our small humans have some big needs, and these organizations put their hearts and souls into caring for Sarasota’s children. Providing a Platinum-winning safe space is THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD, while EASTERSEALS SOUTHWEST FLORIDA is a Gold standard for kids. CHILD PROTECTION CENTER takes home Silver for their work and STEP UP SUNCOAST gets Bronze. Honorable Mentions Children First, Blaze of Hope and Sertoma Kids also strive to offer solutions and support for young ones.

Gina Furey (on The Florida Center for Early Childhood): The teachers, therapists, and staff are the best in town. Savannah Gabriel (on The Florida Center for Early Childhood): The Florida Center is a great organization that is built on helping children and families. As a clinician with The Florida Center, I see the daily impact of the services The Florida Center provides. Sheila Miller (on Child Protection Center): They prevent, intervene and treat child abuse victims. Albertha Williams (on Step Up Suncoast): Step Up Suncoast has been a rock for our community in helping to prepare children to enter kindergarten. Theresa Millett (on Blaze of Hope): When your child is hospitalized and times are uncertain, knowing an organization like Blaze of Hope is able to assist with your bills is such a blessing.

BEST LOCAL ANIMAL NONPROFIT

Satchel’s Last Resort Rescue and Sanctuary

With only meows and barks to ask for help, our furry friends sometimes find the human world to be a scary place. Luckily, Sarasota has plenty of places ready to reach out a hand to a paw. Purring into Platinum is SATCHEL’S LAST RESORT RESCUE AND SANCTUARY, followed by LOST PET SERVICES INC. which takes home the Gold—and our misplaced pets. HONOR ANIMAL RESCUE saves our four-legged friends, taking home Silver, while FARMHOUSE ANIMAL & NATURE SANCTUARY takes Bronze. Animals can feel the heart in these Honorable Mentions: Cat Depot, Humane Society of Sarasota County, Big Cat Habitat and Sugar’s Gift.

Tamara Barshinger (on Satchel’s Last Resort Rescue and Sanctuary): As a volunteer, I feel that this is truly the best rescue in town. They really are making a difference in the lives of these animals. Ella Humphreys (on Lost Pet Services) They truly care and do a fabulous job of reuniting pets with their families. Jalyn Maxham (on Honor Animal Rescue): We have adopted two puppies from here and couldn’t be happier with the experience. Best organization if you are looking for an addition to the family. Carrie Brown (on Farmhouse Animal & Nature Sanctuary): Not only do they care for so many animals and provide the best life, they actually try to reach out to locals that just need a little help. Diana de Veer (on Cat Depot): The wonderful team at Cat Depot has created an exceptional space to care for unwanted cats that provides comfort, enrichment, above and beyond medical care, and tons of love. There are always new cats which means they move quickly into homes. To support their adoptions, they are educating and changing the way young people understand animals and care for them so that the future for these kids and their animals is brighter! None of that would be possible without their medical teams who are gentle, fear free and do things like orthopedic surgeries and surgeries on blocked cats that so many others can’t do. We could not do without Cat Depot in our community.

BEST LOCAL HEALTH NONPROFIT

Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida

As the saying goes, health is wealth, but some of us don’t have the means to spend hundreds on the help we need to feel better. That’s where these philanthropic organizations come in—willing and able to aid and assist when you’re under the weather and don’t know where else to turn. Placing Platinum is PLANNED PARENTHOOD OF SOUTHWEST AND CENTRAL FLORIDA, and close behind is THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD, taking home Gold. RESILIENT RETREAT sets a Silver standard, and CHILD PROTECTION CENTER is our Bronze winner for believing there’s a better way. Don’t count out these Honorable Mentions when looking to head in the right direction with your health: Children First, SunCoast Blood Centers and Plymouth Harbor.

Wendy Cox (on Resilient Retreat): They bring mental healthcare into the mainstream so people are more likely to seek help when they need it. Kristie Skoglund (on The Florida Center for Early Childhood): Each day The Florida Center for Early Childhood promotes the healthy development of young children and I couldn’t be more proud. I am honored to lead an organization of truly dedicated humans who are devoted to making a positive impact on the future of our community’s youngest citizens. Debra J. Ruppert (on Child Protection Center): The Child Protection Center is above and beyond in their service to our families and community. The personal and professional dedication of the staff and volunteer assistants not only saves lives and spirits, but heals lives and spirits with 360 degree care, empathy, compassion, education, patience, fortitude and perseverance. To touch hearts, bodies and souls in this profound way gives hope and promise to our young ones to believe in themselves and to grow strong and aspire to live healthy and impactful lives!

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HOME &DESIGN

BEST LOCAL ARCHITECT

DSDG Architects, Mark Sultana

Architects column the shots for success when you’re building your dream home. No need to spiral-staircase—readers found the best to sketch your success. A certain superstar might ask for a room to hold all her Grammys, perhaps a dressing room, recording studio? Taylor-ed to your needs these architects bring unique personalized homes to life. DSDG ARCHITECTS, MARK SULTANA is a pillar of Platinum, while SOLSTICE PLANNING AND ARCHITECTURE, JONATHAN PARKS is a gilded Gold. SWEET SPARKMAN ARCHITECTURE AND INTERIORS builds a Silver standard foundation and DAMIEN BLUMETTI ARCHITECT elevates ideas for a Bronze blueprint. Check out our ground-breaking Honorable Mentions Leader Design Studio and Architura.

Valerio Amicucci (on DSDG Architects, Mark Sultana): For architectural excellence and professional project management from start to finish. Leslie Barbour (SOLSTICE Planning and Architecture, Jonathan Parks): Jonathan has a fabulous understanding of the history of Sarasota architecture. He designs buildings to represent the area. His work is nationally recognized. His clients love him. Dan Barzel (on SOLSTICE Planning and Architecture): Creative and dynamic work, not cookie cutter or too industrial. Soft and interesting homes. More avant-garde commercial buildings. Marina Clark (Damien Blumetti Architect): They are amazing, so unique and family owned. Lisa Rydzinski (on Architura): Beautiful completely custom homes built to stand the test of time. Lilly Greco (on Sweet Sparkman Architecture and Interiors): This company does lovely work. Catherine Clouse Ferrer (on Sweet Sparkman Architecture and Interiors): Once upon a time, Sarasota was on the front lines of architectural innovation. Thanks to firms like Sweet Sparkman it still is. I will never be rich enough to hire them to build me a custom home, but as someone who appreciates good architecture, I am glad they’re here doing what they do. Janet Brody (on Damien Blumetti Architect): The man is an artist! He brings sublime sensitivity and understanding of place. Paying deep respect to both personal living space and the larger landscape of Florida. His work is important. Marina Clark (Damien Blumetti Architect): They are amazing, so unique and family owned.

BEST LOCAL HOME BUILDER

Neal Communities

When looking for the best builder, you need something concrete. These winners have cemented their way to the top and had voters craning their heads to get a glimpse of their creations. NEAL COMMUNITIES paves their way to Platinum, while JOHN CANNON HOMES doesn’t take their Gold win for granite. TRINITY CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN is a rock-solid Silver and LEE WETHERINGTON HOMES is a measure above the rest for Bronze. You know the drill, there are plenty more picks to check out, like Honorable Mentions Voigt Brothers Construction, Nutter Custom Construction, Phoenix Builders of West Florida, Anchor Builders of Southwest, Sam Rodgers Homes and Arthur Rutenberg Homes.

Mike Thomas (on Neal Communities): Neal Communities is the best local builder for several reasons. With a rich history of crafting exceptional homes in the community, they prioritize quality, customer satisfaction, and innovative design. Their commitment to sustainable building practices and a strong sense of community involvement sets them apart, making them the top choice for those seeking a trustworthy, experienced builder. Dawn Bournand (on John Cannon Homes): John Cannon Homes’ attention to detail is unparalleled. The quality of their builds is apparent the moment you walk through the door. Lucille Leedham (on Trinity Construction & Design): Mike and Brittany Cocozza combine their years of experience with their creative abilities to present their clients with top of the line custom homes. Mike and his team of highly skilled craftsmen fulfill the dreams of their homeowners, then Brit enhances the homes with her incredible knowledge of interior design. She travels abroad to bring home the latest products. Heidi Leonard (on Trinity Construction): Amazing attention to every detail and great communication throughout the project, and outstanding design services. Robert Stadler (on Lee Wetherington Homes): We are currently building a home with LWR in Waterside and nearly complete. The whole staff has been a pleasure to work with and the process so far has been smooth. Tommy Vassallo (on Voigt Brothers Construction): The houses speak for themselves. Voigt Brothers always have a clean job site that makes all the neighbors happy. Jessica St. Andre (on Sam Rodgers Homes): A deep appreciation for locally run family businesses. Sam Rodgers Homes is one of a kind and simply the best with integrity. Dennis Pietrowski (on Sam Rodgers Homes): Great family that owns and operates! Good honest dependable people that pride themselves on premier service and quality.

BEST INTERIOR DESIGNER

Trinity Construction and Design

Before decorating a new house, there is simply a Blank Space. These winners up-holstery the highest standards and know how to turn a master bedroom into a masterpiece. TRINITY CONSTRUCTION AND DESIGN is the Platinum pick this year, with RILEY INTERIOR DESIGN only a throw-pillow away, getting Gold. ABIDE DESIGNS is a hue-ge success, snagging Silver, while ANGELA RODRIGUEZ INTERIORS makes all the right curtain calls to bring home Bronze. Decorate your decisions with Honorable Mentions Riveting Designs, DSDG Architects, Emcy Interior Design, SOLSTICE Planning and Architecture, Blu Home Interior, AND Masters Collective and Chic on the Cheap by Mark Dalton.

Paul Martinelli (on Trinity Construction and Design): I have been working with contractors for 44 years. Trinity is by far the most detailed and professional group of people I have had the privilege of working with. Iolanda Goodfellow (on Riley): Carrie is the quintessential designer; creative professional and with a great sense of humor. Elle Wood (on Abide Design Interiors): 100% professional and super talented. Janice Van Dyck (Angela Rodriguez Interiors): Have used them for multiple projects and always feel like they understand and share my preferences and tastes. Barcelo Christophe (on Riveting Designs): Very professional and gives good advice. Very friendly, she takes care of everything so that the customer has no worries. Cheryl Santelli (on Riveting Designs): I loved working with April. She has an eye for this business. Very thoughtful, creative and works with OCD people like myself to feel at ease. I will be 100% using her on my next home build.

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Valerio Amicucci (on DSDG Architects): For the ability to create spaces that speak to the heart and transform people’s lives. Charles Granatir (on DSDG Architects): Mark Sultana is the quintessential Sarasota architect. His style, mood and luxury is the perfect fit with the aesthetic appreciation for the arts and beauty found in Sarasota. Chris Enger (on Blu Home Interior): As a Sarasota native, Blu Interiors is one of the best “whisper” design firms doing the highest caliber projects in Sarasota. Our friends have one of the most beautifully designed second homes from them that we’ve seen in the area. Corey Talbot (on AND Masters Collective): AND Masters puts the client first. Whatever your style, they come up with impeccable design. Christine Crittenden (on AND Masters Collective): Jennifer was invaluable in bringing our midcentury modern home renovation to fruition. She listened to our vision and applied her knowledge, expertise and attention to details to make it the home we love living in. Alice Tybout (on Chic on the Cheap): I’ve worked with Jill Geisdorf of Chic on the Cheap since 2017. She’s fabulous. She quickly grasps the scope of a project, has creative ideas, works with all the best tradespeople and is super organized and on top of all project details. Jill is a true professional and a pleasure to work with.

BEST LOCAL LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT

Michael A. Gilkey

Design doesn’t stop at your front door—it spills out onto your lawn, into the gardens and up to your mailbox. Landing the perfect landscape is a bed of roses with these winners. MICHAEL A. GILKEY has grown on readers, nabbing the top spot this year as the Platinum winner, followed by DENNIS A. BARTH LANDSCAPE ARCHITECT, who mowed down the other contenders to get Gold.

BEST LOCAL CONTRACTOR, RESIDENTIAL

Trinity Construction & Design

Armed with hard hats, these winners make it look easy— hammering home the details and hitting the nail on the head time and again to build you the perfect house. TRINITY CONSTRUCTION & DESIGN places Platinum, while VOIGT BROTHERS CONSTRUCTION proves to be a weapon of mass construction, getting the Gold. NUTTER CUSTOM CONSTRUCTION secures Silver and SARASOTA REMODELING AND DESIGN bulldozes their way to bronze. Honorable Mentions this year are on a roll—check out Phoenix Builders of West Florida, Girka Design Build and Trim My Crib.

Bryan Howard (on Trinity Construction & Design): The immense attention to detail, the crafty and amazing designs, the seamless coordination, daily progress updates, and even internal systems that insure a more than successful build. Dominic Furlano (on Trinity Construction): Top Notch devotion to details whether interior or exterior, always exceeding expectations. Benjamin LaLande (on Voigt Brothers Construction): Voigt Brothers Construction has the highest expectations of quality, proper custom home building of any local contractor in Sarasota! Plus, they are Sarasota natives! Their attention to detail, customer service and drive to meet deadlines and customer expectations is top notch and rare in this category. Christine Clary (on Voigt Brothers Construction): They build gorgeous, quality homes. Beautiful workmanship and what the client wants. Jimmy Russo (on Nutter Custom Construction): Tremendous staff from owner down. They have great vision, top notch craftsmen, and just a pleasure to communicate with from start to finish.

Neal Andrews (on Nutter Custom Construction): I just love their curb appeal. The houses aren’t modern (which is so boring) or Mediterranean. They seem different than what everyone else is building. Byron Mcnamara (on Phoenix Builders of West Florida): They are a combat disabled veteran owned business and they know how to build a home. Fred Lindel (on Trim My Crib): Love Jamie! They were punctual and professional. Trevor Blosser (on Trim My Crib): Trim My Crib has really elevated the detail you can add to your home. It truly feels like you can now have the model home look with their innovative design options.

BEST HOME FURNISHINGS STORE

Shuffle Furnishings

Freaking out over furnishings? You Need to Calm Down Armed with armchairs, these home furnishing stores are bedder than the rest. We wouldn’t keep this from you—chairing is caring! SHUFFLE FURNISHINGS pillow-talked their way to Platinum, while CLIVE DANIEL HOME had plenty of cushion with Gold. BLU HOME said ready, settee, Silver, and MATTER BROTHERS had the king and queen beds for Bronze. Another spot that had the right credenz-tionals? Honorable Mention Scavengers Marketplace SRQ.

Corinna Staples (on Shuffle Furnishings): Just wonderful furniture and excellent quality and good prices. Christine Clary (on Clive Daniel Home): Quality furniture and a beautiful selection! A pleasure shopping there and excellent service with designers that listen to you. Sarah Eckert (on Blu Home): They are always current and refreshing their style with top quality furniture! I love coming into the store to see what’s new and get their professional opinions on my business and home projects. Norka Diaz Dolan (on Blu Home): They are so attentive to detail and personalized attention to their clients with such a variety of unique and quality furniture and home decor pieces. Tiffany Bedwell (on Scavengers): Scavengers is my favorite because they have the best assortment of furniture and home accents. They have new furniture, vintage and upcycled. The painted furniture is stunning.

BEST FLOORING STORE Interior Floors

These spots had us floored! Voters followed the footprints and landed feet first at these voter-vetted winners. INTERIOR FLOORS placed Platinum while 6051 DESIGN SOURCE got Gold. RUGS AS ART put their best foot forward, snagging Silver, and STICKS AND STONES FLOORING toed the line to a Bronze victory. Right on their heels were Honorable Mentions Manasota Flooring, Classic Flooring and Design and Florida Design Works.

Zach Lesmerises (on Interior Floors): Joe Horner and his team are clean, professional and efficient! I’m super happy with the results of my new floors. Abbey Harms (6051 Design Source): Had the best experience with Chris at this showroom. Always follow up with samples and quotes in a timely manner. Keeps a great selection of tile, wood and vinyl flooring on display at the showroom.

BEST WINDOW TREATMENTS

Budget Blinds & Inspired Drapes

No shade but sometimes Taylor needs a break from the paps— anyone would. These spots have the drapes and blinds for you—or the world’s most famous superstar. BUDGET BLINDS & INSPIRED DRAPES hides your troubles for a Platinum win,

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while B&G WINDOW FASHIONS shades you from gray skies so all you can see is Gold. SUNCOAST WINDOW FILMS & SHADES takes the Silver this year.

Rick Munroe (on Budget Blinds & Inspired Drapes): Budget Blinds is the undeniable choice. With a relentless commitment to quality and style, Budget Blinds transforms any space into a masterpiece. Their vast selection of blinds, shades, and shutters, paired with expert design consultants, ensures a personalized touch for every home. Beyond the exquisite range, Budget Blinds also excels in affordability, offering stunning window treatments without breaking the bank. This unmatched combination of quality, style, and affordability makes Budget Blinds the clear standout, making everyday life a little brighter and homes a lot more beautiful. Mark Kach (on Suncoast Window Films & Shades): Excellent work ethic from local guys.

BEST PROFESSIONAL LANDSCAPING

Sarasota Lawn & Landscaping

It’s easy to seed between the lines—these winners don’t moss around. When bush came to shove, voters voiced their Platinum pick: SARASOTA LAWN & LANDSCAPING. Next up, TROY’S TROPICS is turning out lawns beyond beleaf, taking home Gold. GRANT’S GARDENS is no one-trick peony they’ve got plenty to place them in Silver. Coming in Bronze is TROPICAL GARDENS LANDSCAPE— they’re all the sage with our readers. Need some more room to grow? Try Honorable Mentions Borden Landscape Design and ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design.

Alex Handley (on Troy’s Tropics): Consistency is key with these guys. Joy, Troy and all associates of Troy’s Tropics kick it into high gear seven days a week to provide Sarasota with a landscape company that always comes through. Brant Prine (Grant’s Gardens): Grant’s Gardens is very professional and quick to respond to any landscape requests I have ever used them for. Brent Ackors (on Tropical Gardens Landscape): Ryan cares about his work more than any owner I’ve ever met. Ryan Empey (on Tropical Gardens Landscape): Best Landscape Designers and crews that show up to do the work are the hardest working you’ll find.

BEST POOL CONTRACTOR

Waterscapes Pools and Spas

When you can’t make it to the beach, a dip in the ocean is only a few steps away with the right pool and a little imagination. Whirling on the scene for a second year is Platinum winner WATERSCAPES POOLS AND SPAS with FAMILY POOLS diving into Gold. Voters were off the deep end for Silver winner SIESTA POOLS and PHOENIX POOLS AND SPAS brought the jacuzzi-ready bubbles for Bronze. Splash over to Honorable Mention Superior Pools of Southwest Florida.

Ali Vina (on Family Pools): Family Pools has the knowledge and design guidance you will need. The owner is phenomenal and I couldn’t be happier with my choice. When you are designing and expanding your home, you will not regret having Family Pools on your side. Cheryl Santelli (on Phoenix Pools and Spas): This company is the best one I’ve met in my 45 years in this town. They are professional, get the job done, and are very honest and upfront about the job scale and cost. I can appreciate that. They deserve to be recognized. Brian Rogoff (on Superior Pools of Southwest Florida): Great Designs. They stand by their product by doing repairs without cost, even when not covered by warranty. Always dealing

with the same people who treat prior customers as current customers. Thomas Roesicke (on Siesta Pools): Siesta Pools did a great job. The communication throughout the process was excellent. Quality work with great features and the pool was built in a timely manner.

BEST ROOFING CONTRACTOR

Blue Vision Roofing

Why is a roof the most important part of the house? Everyone looks up to it. These readers elevated standards and shinglehandidly secured a top spot on our Best Of list. BLUE VISION ROOFING raised the roof all the way to a Platinum win, while STRONG ROOFING guttered a Gold. AVERY ROOF SERVICES stayed on top for Silver and BLUE COLLAR ROOFING didn’t let anything go over their head—they’re a Bronze winner. High praise goes to Honorable Mentions Roofing by Curry, Sutter Roofing and Red Dog’s Roofing of Florida.

Ava Jones (on Blue Vision): Everything was excellent from start to finish. Very good communication throughout the process, completed the job ahead of schedule. Quality work. Got three estimates, prices were comparable to the other two. Used tarps around the house to catch debris from shingle removal, and did a pretty good job keeping everything cleaned up. Pulled permits and passed inspection. Very happy! Maria Hernandez (on Strong): We went through Strong Roofing to replace our roof and met Trey, John and Tony. The company gives you comfort that the job they’re doing is honest, they’re with you every step of the way. Very polite and professional. Dan Barzel (on Avery Roof Services): They are very knowledgeable and only interested in doing top quality work. They have done leak repair, gutter work and a number of jobs for me and people I referred them to—always top quality. Gayle Fortin (on Blue Collar): Kevin is amazing. After the storms my roof took a hit. Kevin was there quickly and determined the fix right away. Jordan Rains (on Roofing by Curry): This group goes above and beyond and the entire business is community and family oriented. They take care of their customers and the service always goes above and beyond.

BEST SOLAR CONTRACTOR Brilliant Harvest

While the man in the moon has a monopoly on the tides, the sun has been rebranded as a businessman—or woman. No longer only lighting up the sky, it now can light up your home with the power of solar energy. The forecast this year is sunny with a chance of low energy bills! BRILLIANT HARVEST is a ray of Platinum sunshine, while REGION SOLAR glistens in Gold. SOLAR DIRECT is the Silver pick here to brighten your day— and your dining room.

Jesse Curry (on Brilliant Harvest): Great team, very knowledgeable. Paul Williams (on Region Solar): I’ve felt that they truly cared about my needs, my values and my goals. So many companies tried to sell me solar, and Region was the only company who told me the truth, and looked out for my best interests. Jason Thompson (on Solar Direct): Solar Direct is my preferred choice for several reasons. Their professionalism stands out, ensuring that I receive the information and assistance I need with a friendly touch. What truly sets them apart is their ability to tailor solar solutions to my specific energy requirements, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness. Installation is not only swift but carried out with precision and expertise, guaranteeing a smooth process. The cost savings associated with their solutions are significant, offering a welcome relief on my monthly bills. Moreover, going solar with Solar Direct means I’m actively contributing to a greener future, reducing my carbon footprint.

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BEST KITCHEN DESIGNER

Sarasota Remodeling and Design

Sink your teeth into some seriously fabulous kitchen designs with the help of this year’s winners. SARASOTA REMODELING AND DESIGN stove the show with a Platinum win, while CUCINE RICCI IMPORTED ITALIAN CABINETRY cooked up a Gold win. PDR KITCHEN & BATH set the breakfast bar for a Silver win, while FLORIDA DESIGN WORKS broiled and boiled its way to Bronze. Some slow-cooker specialties can be found at Honorable Mentions Girka Design Build and WestCoast WORXX.

Chase Bryner (on Cucine Ricci-Imported Italian Kitchens): The quality and detail the staff puts into each job is refreshing and impressive. As someone who works in the industry I wish more companies had the same drive. Nia Davis (on PDR Kitchen & Bath): They are a family owned company who strive to give their customers quality craftsmanship and service. Madison Piper (on Florida Design Works): I had my backsplash re-done at Design Works and have never been happier. They have a plethora of beautiful tiles to select from and a super friendly staff that helps guide the entire process. Now every time I walk into my kitchen I fall in love all over again.

BEST CABINETRY SRQ Custom Cabinetry

Our readers were not shelf-ish this year and shared all their favorite cabinet makers with us. SRQ CUSTOM CABINETRY had Platinum-winning pantries, while CAMPBELL CABINETRY DESIGNS guaranteed Gold-worthy wares for storing your sauces. CUCINE RICCI IMPORTED ITALIAN CABINETRY was sure to uphold a Silver standard when creating canteens to store your canned goods, with PDR KITCHEN & BATH taking home a Bronze for their spacious stores. Check out Honorable Mentions Albrecht Cabinets, Florida Design Works and O’Connor Cabinetry Designs.

Dan Barzel (on Campbell Cabinetry Designs): Really great design and workmanship—they stand behind their products and try to get the best solutions for their customers. Cullen Steger (on PDR Kitchen & Bath): Amazing work and amazing people. Anthony Estep (on Florida Design Works): Great quality and fantastic design. Don Miller (on PDR Kitchen & Bath): The design team listens to what you want and creates a plan that is exactly what you want. The contractors and coordination are outstanding. Max Kennaugh (on Cucine Ricci-Imported Italian Kitchens): Cucine Ricci truly transformed my kitchen with their impeccable cabinetry. The craftsmanship is outstanding, showcasing precision and attention to detail. The elegant designs seamlessly blend functionality with aesthetics, providing both ample storage and a sophisticated atmosphere. From the initial consultation to the final installation, their team displayed professionalism and expertise. Cucine Ricci exceeded my expectations, delivering a kitchen that is not only a joy to work in but also a stunning focal point in my home. I wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone seeking top-tier kitchen cabinetry.

BEST GRANITE/COUNTERTOPS

Seashore Marble & Granite

Unearthing the best granite is only a stone’s throw away with these reader favorites. SEASHORE MARBLE & GRANITE totally rocked the competition and took home Platinum. VOLCANO STONE gran-ited the people for Gold, and PLANET STONE MARBLE & GRANITE turned pebbles into perfection, slaying Silver. Last up, FLORIDA DESIGN WORKS chipped away to take home Bronze. For those of you stuck between a rock and a

hard place to find your next countertop, check out Honorable Mentions Sarasota Granite & Quartz, Distinctive Surfaces of Florida and Final Touch Counters.

Sophia Gomes (on Seashore Marble & Granite): Best customer service, great prices, and amazing work. Nia Davis (on Planet Stone Marble & Granite): Simply the best. Anthony Estep (on Florida Design Works): Great selection and great workmanship.

BEST BATHROOM REMODELERS

Sarasota Remodeling and Design

Sometimes it’s time to flush your old design down the proverbial toilet. When you need a revamp on your vanity, give these winners a whirl. SARASOTA REMODELING AND DESIGN is on a roll with their Platinum win while SRQ HANDYMAN SERVICES will have you sitting on a Gold throne. PDR KITCHEN & BATH sizes up the rest for Silver and GIRKA DESIGN BUILD has the makings for a Bronze-worthy bathtub. Don’t miss out on working with Honorable Mention Masella Home Repairs. Lorrie (on PDR Kitchen & Bath): They did such a great job on the first renovation, I hired them to do a second. No regrets— they were perfect.

BEST LOCAL LIGHTING Franklin Lighting

Celebrities might look picture-perfect but a lot of their bright brilliance boils down to incredible lighting. Glossy hair, luminescent skin, sparkling eyes—sure Taylor Swift is gorgeous but with the right bulbs she becomes a goddess. We can only be so lucky but with so many voters chiming in, we were enlightened with our choices. FRANKLIN LIGHTING was a positively charged Platinum, while LYTEWORKS glowed into Gold. Not afraid to shine, LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE used their Silver win to brighten up your day.

Iolanda Goodfellow (on Franklin Lighting): Great selection, price and sales associates. Nia Davis (on LyteWorks): Large selection and great prices. Kelly Loiczly (Light Up Your Life): Unique lighting.

BEST LOCAL PLUMBING COMPANY

DRH Plumbing

Plunging onto the scene this year, the Best Local Plumbing Company category had a lot of contenders for the best to battle your bathroom woes. DRH PLUMBING was overflowing with votes and took home Platinum, while ARROW PLUMBING sent other contenders right down the drain with their Gold win. CHRISTIAN PEREZ PRESTIGIOUS PLUMBING piped into the competition to win Silver, and we’re here to leak the Bronze winner—PREMIER PLUMBERS. Call up Honorable Mentions Aqua Plumbing & Air, Loftin Plumbling, Advanced Plumbing Solutions, Next Level Plumbing and Richards Plumbing and Electric for any more toilet terrors.

Lucille Leedham (on DRH Plumbing): They are prompt and reasonable and friendly. An unbeatable combination. Jessie Lautenschlager (on Arrow Plumbing): Arrow plumbing has always been a pleasure to work with. I love that they’re always super fast, efficient, and leave the job site clean. I’ve used them for all my plumbing issues in the past and absolutely recommend them to anyone looking for a reliable trustworthy plumbing company. Theresa Oakley (on Premier Plumbers): They are always so prompt, professional and respectful of my home (wearing little booties over their shoes & vacuuming up). I’ve had emergencies happen, and I never felt like I was

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disrupting their time (or time off). I’ve been so pleased with their workmanship and have only heard good things from the friends and family I’ve referred them to. Angela Lutjens (on Aqua Plumbing & Air): I had bad water to the point my fixtures were falling apart from the inside out. I had Aqua Plumbing come out, test my water to figure out what would best work for me. I have not had any issues since. Thank you, Aqua Plumbing, for your help.

BEST HVAC/AC COMPANY A/C Heroes

When your perspiration has you in a state of desperation, these cool-wave winners are here to turn down the temp. The aptly named A/C HEROES stay cool under pressure even when winning Platinum. Readers are huge fans of Gold winner D&D AIR, while SCHWARTZ AIR CONDITIONING AND HEATING is cool as a cucumber with their Silver win. Breezing into Bronze is AAP AIR SERVICES. Stay cool for the endless summer with Honorable Mentions Badger Bob’s Services, Aqua Plumbing & Air, Sean McCutcheon’s Air Conditioning and Heating, Air Now, Hurricane Air Conditioning of SWFL, Armada Air Conditioning.. Michael Anello (on A/C Heroes): Zach is amazing and will make sure you have the best service and deal. Ed Wilson (on D&D Air Conditioning): Great company run by great people. Pat Barco (on Schwartz Air Conditioning and Heating): When needed they come as quickly as possible, the service people are the friendliest, get the work done quickly, the office personnel are delightful to deal with and their rates are very reasonable. Christopher Staine (on Schwartz Air Conditioning and Heating): Easily the most responsive and professional outfit on the Suncoast. When it comes to HVAC companies, there is none better or more qualified. That Jared Schwartz lives and works in our beloved Sarasota makes him and his company a real gem.

BEST POOL MAINTENANCE Tip Top Pools

Keeping your pool from looking like it could house the creature from the black lagoon means some serious upkeep. These experts are a swimming success for a bright, blue pool. Positively Platinum is TIP TOP POOLS, followed by splash-tastic FAMILY POOLS, taking home Gold. LWR POOL CARE takes maintenance from infinity-pool to beyond, securing Silver, while SUPERIOR POOLS OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA will have your dirty pool back in the swim of things in no time, thanks to their Bronze status. Float over to Honorable Mentions Pinch a Penny Pool Patio Spa and Superior Pools of Southwest Florida. Sherice Roesicke (on Tip Top Pools): My pool looks amazing day in and day out. The owners are the best I’ve found and work so hard to keep me and my neighbors happy! Michael Calamaras (on Tip Top Pools): They are awesome owners. Focused on their clients. Julie Ehlert (on Family Pools): Family Pools maintains my swimming pools at two locations. I love that they send me a picture of my pools when they complete their work. Rebecca Harvey (on LWR Pool Care): Thorough and always communicate. Mary Buck (on LWR Pool Care): Excellent, affordable, dependable service. Matt and his crew always have our pool sparkling clean!

BEST LAWN MAINTENANCE

Sarasota Lawn & Landscaping

When it’s time to handle lawn maintenance, sometimes we just want to plant our feet and leaf it be. But to avoid your front lawn suddenly looking like the opening scene of The

Jungle Book, it needs some upkeep from time to time. These professional plant handlers are here to help you see the grass is greener with them on your side. SARASOTA LAWN & LANDSCAPING helps you find your inner peas for Platinum, while GRANT’S GARDENS doesn’t miss a beet getting Gold. TROPICAL GARDENS LANDSCAPE keeps your lawn in mint condition, savoring a Silver win, and ARTISTREE LANDSCAPE MAINTENANCE & DESIGN has a natural talent that lands them Bronze. Can ya dig it? Honorable Mention Lamb Tree Care also had our readers giving a green thumbs-up.

Robert Reed (on Sarasota Lawn & Landscaping): Anthony and his team are the best. Very reliable and have our lawn looking amazing. Grace Meisner (on Sarasota Lawn & Landscaping): This three man team is so fast and efficient. They always come early in the day too which I appreciate. Debbie Mangels (on Tropical Gardens Landscape): Not only does Ryan do excellent, outstanding landscape designs, but paver designs are better than anything. Tiff Colpitts (on Tropical Gardens Landscape): Honest, reliable and hard workers. Best of the best if you ask me.

BEST FENCE INSTALLER H&Y Fence

No of-fence but we want some privacy. Here are the best chain-links to keeping your peace protected. H&Y FENCE is wrought-iron-ready for business as the Platinum winner while SRQ HANDYMAN SERVICES is the readers’ picket for Gold. ROBERTSON FENCE lattice know they are a Silver star and LEVEL UP FENCING barbs into Bronze.

Ed Wilson (on H&Y Fence): Great work at fair prices. Brandon Kulpeksa (Level Up Fencing): They are so prompt and reliable and are focused on the customer experience. Nicole Cracchiola (on Level Up Fencing): Level Up Fencing has been the most professional and affordable fencing installation company I have encountered in this area! They have made the entire process seamless and headache free while producing quality results. Hands down best in the area.

BEST EXTERMINATOR

Good News Pest Solutions

When you’ve got a furry or multi-legged squatter living in your house, it’s time to call in the ultimate eviction notice— extermination. If Ms. Swift was staying with you, golden locks and beautiful frocks you wouldn’t want any creepy-crawlies around. Surely she would let you know We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. GOOD NEWS PEST SOLUTIONS puts insects to bed with their Platinum services while CAREFREE PEST & TERMITE SOLUTIONS goes for the Gold. HALL’S TERMITE AND PEST CO. says sayonara to spiders and hello to Silver, with ALL AMERICAN PEST SERVICES busting out the big guns to bring home Bronze. Honorable Mention Veritas! Pest Management can also help you say goodbye to your little friends.

Ron Haggerty (on Good News Pest Solutions): Always friendly and knowledgeable with any situation. Donna Ryan (on Hall’s Termite and Pest): Matt Hall and his team at Hall’s Pest Control are very thorough and professional and always respond when needed. Anthony Fobes (on All American Pest Services): All American Pest Services is always a pleasure to work with and is truly the best at getting rid of pests and keeping them away. A veteran owned and operated business which provides stellar service, quick response times, and quality treatment for pests of all kinds.

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ARTS &CULTURE

BEST LOCAL GALLERY

Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery

Can’t make it to the MoMA? Looking to bask in the arts on a budget? Spend the day window shopping at your favorite local galleries. Fill your time with creativity and whimsy by soaking up inspiration at Platinum winner CREATIVE LIBERTIES ARTIST STUDIOS and Gallery. The ARTFUL GIRAFFE was a Picass-go with our readers, nabbing Gold, while AQUA PINE BOUTIQUE AND RESIN STUDIO is a certified Silver pick. ARTCENTER MANATEE Baroque onto the scene to grab Bronze. Other fineart finds? Check out Honorable Mention Ligon Fine Art Gallery. Meghann McCoy (on Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery): Creative Liberties has so many great ways to reach out to the community and they encourage others to be artists as well with their family art day. They support so many interesting and diverse artists as well. Jen Kroeger (on Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery): They are incredibly supportive of the entire artist community in Sarasota. They offer so many opportunities for visual artists of all levels. Danene Jaffe (on The Artful Giraffe): Great art and gifts. Amy Wilson (on Aqua Pine Boutique and Resin Studio): They have over 30 local artists on display in a variety of mediums. Cathy Mijou (on Art Center Manatee): They have wonderful exhibits that change every month. Their open juried shows in all media highlight the incredible talent we have in Manatee and Sarasota counties. Their regional, national and international exhibits bring the world a little closer and make this area a destination for the arts.

BEST ARTS ORGANIZATION

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

Whatever art you feel inspired to make, Sarasota has an outlet for it. Voters gave Platinum pick WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE a standing ovation, while FLORIDA STUDIO

THEATRE grabbed Gold. MUSIC COMPOUND kept readers clapping with their Silver win and CREATIVE LIBERTIES ARTIST

STUDIOS AND GALLERY was a best in show Bronze. Encore, encore! Grab tickets to Honorable Mentions Ringling College of Art and Design, ArtCenter Manatee, Discover Sarasota Tours, SRQcommunity, Circus Arts Conservatory, Sarasota Film Society, Sarasota Contemporary Dance, Friendly City Foundation and Arist Series Concerts.

Susan Straus (on West Coast Black Theatre Troupe): The talent of the performers hits amazingly high standards consistently. The choreography is sophisticated, complex and demanding. Kudos both to the company’s choreographer and the various cast members who never fail to excel in execution. The voices are shockingly good. Each play or review on the season schedule is a rare treat. WBTT is Sarasota’s hidden gem. Vance Bauer (on Florida Studio Theatre): Wonderful entertainment year around. Amy Wilson (on Creative Liberties Artist Studios and Gallery): They are amazing for the local art community. Cathy Mijou (on ArtCenter Manatee): Visual arts classes, exhibits, a gift shop chock full of handcrafted items, all contribute to making the ArtCenter a one stop art shop. It is an immersive experience from when you walk in the door. Add a friendly, welcoming atmosphere and you want to keep coming back.

BEST LOCAL MUSEUM

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

Celebrating the arts doesn’t always require dancing the night away at a concert or sitting in a theater listening; sometimes the arts are quiet. For the perfect day of scenery and silence, make your way to these marvelous museums, where variety is high but volume is low. THE JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART places itself in a proud Platinum position, while SARASOTA ART MUSEUM Van-Goghs for gold. SARASOTA CLASSIC CAR MUSEUM revs into the Silver spot and THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE is our Bronze best. Savor the day at our Honorable Mention Tibbals Learning Center and Circus Museum at The Ringling.

Linda Vreeland (on The Ringling): Excellent exhibitions yearround. Summer Circus is the best collaboration with Circus Arts Conservatory. Riina McCormack (on The Ringling): It is an all day walk in a beautiful park and mind boggling art collection. Cathy Mijou (on The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature): Always something going on at the Bishop. Classes, demonstrations, exhibits, something for everyone.

BEST VISUAL ARTS ORGANIZATION

The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art

The arts should excite your senses—and those looking for an eye-catching experience need look no further than these picks for best visual arts. THE JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART is a picture-perfect Platinum, while CREATIVE LIBERTIES ARTIST STUDIOS AND GALLERY gets Gold. We wish we had four eyes to see double of the Silver-winning RINGLING COLLEGE OF ART AND DESIGN, or binoculars for a better look at tied for Silver winner LIPSTICK LEX. Clean off your lenses and look no further than Honorable Mentions Virginia Bright, Venice Art Center, ArtCenter Manatee, Art Center Sarasota, SPAACES and Joseph James Reynolds for some extra eye candy.

Gloria Soto (on Lipstick Lex): She is a one of a kind artist. She is blessed with a talent like no other. Maggie Revere (on Creative Liberties): Creative Liberties is an extraordinary place filled with artists and people who really love what they do. The expansive art work, the friendly people, the charming interior is well worth exploring Thursday through Saturday. On some weekends the courtyard has many artists who come with their talents and don’t forget the wonderful eatery Hamlet’s. Judith Frank (on Ringling College of Art and Design): The Ringling College produces some of the most creative artists. Their art show is terrific and Baila Miller’s lectures are outstanding. I love the film shorts that are produced each year too.

BEST PERFORMING ARTS ORGANIZATION

Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe

In her three-hour concert spanning her almost two decadelong career, Taylor spent 44 songs taking fans on a color-coded journey through her 10 albums. A visual artist through and through she matched her costumes, backdrop and guitars for each set change. That’s commitment. If you can’t snag tickets to the tour check out these wonderful winners in visual arts artistry. Some people were born for the stage— luckily, Sarasota has plenty of those to showcase some of the South’s best talent. Placing first in show is Platinum winner WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE, while VAN WEZEL PERFORMING ARTS HALL takes center stage to grab a Gold win. ASOLO REPERTORY THEATRE steals the spotlight for

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Silver, and MUSIC COMPOUND is a leg-breaking Bronze. Don’t worry—in the arts, that’s a good thing! Head over to Honorable Mentions The Circus Arts Conservatory for an excuse to clown around, Sarasota Contemporary Dance and Ring Sarasota.

Marie Gabrielle Morrison (on West Coast Black Theatre Troupe): A very fun evening filled with Motown and soul. WBTT was so good that we bought season tickets. Nicholas Ciallelo (on Asolo Repertory Theatre): Broadway quality productions in an intimate space. Dakota Carrera (on The Circus Arts Conservatory): This company holds a place in so many local hearts. The founders work hard to stay true to their values and the impact the different programs have on the youth shines through for generations. Leymis Wilmott Bolaños (on Sarasota Contemporary Dance): B-bodies, E-embodying, S-strength, T-talent—an organization that uses dance to transform and impact lives. Dan Barzel (on Sarasota Contemporary Dance): Interesting, energetic, provocative, stimulating—love the movement and the energy. Sara Lindgren (on Ring Sarasota): Ring Sarasota brings the joy and unexpected excitement of handbell ringing to audiences large and small. This is not your grandparents’ church handbell choir. Ring Sarasota shares its love of the medium through storytelling in its performances.

BEST LOCAL THEATRE Florida Studio Theatre

Time for our curtain call! First up—performing a Platinum win is FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE, while URBANITE THEATRE upstaged the rest for Gold. ASOLO REPERTORY THEATRE had the audience cheering from the mezzanine for their Silver win, and PINEAPPLE KITCHEN burst out from backstage to collect their Bronze. Take an intermission from your typical weekend activities and grab tickets to Honorable Mentions Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, The Players Centre for Performing Arts and Venice Theatre.

Barbara O’Brien (on Florida Studio Theatre): This is what I love about Sarasota—such fine culture and entertainment. Tom Freiwald (on Urbanite Theatre): We have been to every Urbanite performance since it opened. The number of times we left disappointed is zero. Iolanda Goodfellow (on Asolo Repertory Theatre): Top performances in a small, intimate theater. Not a bad seat in the house. Mike Scher (on Pineapple Kitchen): Pineapple Kitchen’s Interactive Mysteries are the best. They are witty, fun and sophisticated. Nothing like you’ve ever experienced before. Mike Schenk (on Pineapple Kitchen): We had a ball. It was fun, interactive, creative, and just a good time. You can tell they are passionate about what they do, amazing all around at the Pineapple Kitchen Interactive Mystery Shows. Annamaria Juhasz (on The Players Performing Arts Center): Amazing community theatre performances and top notch educational offerings for all. Robin Rowley (on Venice Theatre): Always put on amazing productions. It’s a little hidden gem.

BEST FESTIVAL Greek Glendi Festival

An entire day dedicated to being festive? The dream. Check out these excuses to spend the day celebrating. Placing Platinum this year is the GREEK GLENDI FESTIVAL, while THUNDER BY THE BAY made enough noise to strike lightning and grab Gold. BRADENTON BLUES FESTIVAL hit all the right notes to serenade a Silver win and SIESTA KEY CRYSTAL CLASSIC bested the rest for Bronze. Readers also filled their hours with Honorable Mention The Bay Turns One! Community

Celebration.

Aria Georghiou (on Greek Glendi Festival): A taste of home for the Greek communities, near and far. Greek Glendi is an occasion to mingle, joyfully dance to a familiar song, and eat food that’s reminiscent of the Mediterranean. Judith Frank (on on Greek Glendi Festival): Love the gyro sandwich and other Greek delicacies. Gabe Martens, makes the best gyro sandwich at the Greek Glendi festival. Mark Hoffman (on Thunder by the Bay): Thunder by the Bay is unique. It combines bikes, music and an awesome charity. I saw a huge diversity of people and loved the music acts that were there. The food was easily accessible as were cold beverages. Parking was plentiful and easy. I don’t think there was a bad seat for the music. I cannot wait until next year. Cathy Mijou (on Bradenton Blues Fest): Best of the blues right here in Bradenton! Sandra Smith (on The Bay Turns One: Community Celebration): This is my birthplace, I’ve been here over 50 years and the free concert by Chris Augeri of Journey brought all the Gen X crowd outside dancing and singing.

BEST LOCAL TOUR COMPANY

Discover Sarasota Tours

Independence is an admirable trait, but so is knowing when you need a helping hand. With so many new and exciting sights to see in Sarasota, sometimes your daily agenda is best left to the experts. Planning a Platinum-worthy day is DISCOVER SARASOTA TOURS, followed by HIKE IT FLORIDA getting your next best adventure and going for Gold. Last up, spend a bustling Bronze-worthy boat tour with LOW TIDE TOURS TIKI BOAT. Barbara Ingle (on Discover Sarasota Tours): I highly recommend anyone, no matter their age. Adam Wiegand (on Hike It Florida): Went on a guided hike with Hike It Florida at Myakka River State Park. It was such an amazing experience being out in the park at night exploring the trails in a totally different experience. Hike It Florida guides were very professional, knowledgeable and friendly. Can’t wait to go with them again in the future. Claire Kobza (on Low Tide Tours Tiki Boat): Fun and knowledgeable captains that truly go above and beyond. Unique luxury tiki boats to experience the beauty of Sarasota. Great for celebrations or just to appreciate our beautiful waterways.

BEST LOCAL VISUAL ARTIST Hailey Renner

We’ve got galleries to gawk at, theaters to sweep you away and museums to mesmerize. But who makes these marvelous creations? Meet a few of Sarasota’s favorite artists. Placing themselves in Platinum is HAILEY RENNER, while KAREN CHANDLER glitters in Gold. LIPSTICK LEX is a Silver-winning sensation, and voters like VIRGINIA BRIGHT for Bronze. Don’t count out the creativity of Honorable Mention Teresa Stone, The Gypsy Gardener.

Katharine Adams-Love (on Hailey Renner): You can gaze at Ms. Renner’s works for hours and see something new each time you look at her work. Truly gifted artist. Chloe Canterbury (on Lipstick Lex): Creative local talent who is constantly giving back to the community via her work. From installations in restaurants like Kolucan to doing charity work and helping raise a ton of awareness for breast cancer through Making Strides and the American Cancer Society, she’s crushing it. Check out her installations all month long at UTC Mall and the Green at UTC. Then she’ll be at the breast cancer walks here and in Tampa creating interactive survivor experiences in her “lipstick jungle!” Elizabeth Williams (on Virginia Bright): Local, happy, beautiful person inside and out.

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BEST LOCAL STREET/WALL ART

Bazaar Boho Mural by The Gypsy Gardener at The Bazaar on Apricot and Lime

True artists know drawing shouldn’t be designated just for paper— if you look hard enough, the world is your canvas. These amazing artists colored far outside the box and took their specialties to the streets. Polishing off their Platinum win is BAZAAR BOHO MURAL

AT THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT AND LIME, while BRANDON THRIFT had some Gold-winning graffiti.

KAREN CHANDLER AT THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT AND LIME colored her way to a beautiful Bronze win. These fan favorites know it pays off to draw outside the lines.

Judy Alexander (on Karen Chandler, The Bazaar at Apricot and Lime): Karen is an accomplished artist whose work can be seen throughout Sarasota.

FAMILY &CHILDREN

BEST CHILDREN’S ATTRACTION

Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

Keeping up with the Joneses is a piece of cake compared to keeping up with the kids. You know all the energy you lose at 3 am—we can’t prove it, but it may be going to your local 4-year-old. When the puzzles and toys and allotted screen time run out, here is where your little ones can channel their boundless battery. MOTE MARINE is a Platinum-winning place to spend your day, while BIG CAT HABITAT takes home a Gold-worthy go, go, go. Spend hours at the Silver sanctuary of SARASOTA JUNGLE GARDENS or make a beeline to Bronze winner SARASOTA CHILDREN’S GARDEN to wind down the clock. Honorable Mentions The Bay Park—The Nest and Ibis Playground, Sky Zone Trampoline Park and RCC Farm Experience offer plenty of goodness to tire out your tyke.

Nancy Nallin (on Big Cat Habitat): Big Cat Habitat is our goto place when we have friends and family in town. Everyone loves it so much, and each visit is a unique experience. People always comment how lucky we are to have such a unique family-friendly animal facility in our community. Chris Camper (on Sarasota Jungle Gardens): Sarasota Jungle Gardens has been a fixture in family fun for generations for our community. Always a fun time. Dawn Cooper (on Sarasota Jungle Gardens): Jungle Gardens is a tradition for our family. We had annual passes 30 years ago when our boys were little and we have them again with our grandson. There is something here for everyone. A relaxing, “old Florida” way to spend the day. Silvia Nunez (on The Bay Park): Great family space and activities. We just went and looked at the moon and the stars. Henrietta Riley (on The Bay): The Ibis Playground lets kids’ and adults’ imaginations go wild and makes your heart feel good Jessica Ryherd (on RCC Farm): This mobile petting zoo is outstanding. The teenage ladies that own and run this business are so kind and make sure all of the kids have fun. Their animals are cute and well cared for. I highly recommend them for any event.

BEST PRIVATE SCHOOL

Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School

The Jackson Five give the regular ABCs a run for their money —but whether your kids are learning the groovy version or the old-school classic, these private schools should be on your syllabus. Placing a perfect score is Platinum CARDINAL MOONEY CATHOLIC HIGH SCHOOL, while HERSHORIN SCHIFF COMMUNITY DAY SCHOOL takes Gold as the top of its class. THE OUT-OF-DOOR ACADEMY is a Silver star that never lands in the principal’s office, and INCARNATION CATHOLIC SCHOOL calculates its way to a Bronze. Read, write and learn at Honorable Mentions Sarasota Christian School. The Classical Academy of Sarasota, St. Martha’s Catholic School, NewGate School and St. Mary’s Academy.

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Amy Gorman (on Cardinal Mooney): An outstanding education for students of all faiths. Caroline Melby (on Cardinal Mooney): All three of my kids go to Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School and we couldn’t be happier. Small classes, caring teachers, great school spirit. Angie Mitchell (on Community Day School-Hershorin Schiff Community Day School): Their academic and athletic programs are exceptional. The teachers and staff are inclusive and loving. Lee-Ann Frost Corry (on Out of Door Academy): All three of my children attend ODA. Exceptional teachers and staff. Wonderful education with the faculty, administration and parents share a common goal for success of each student. Angela Molineaux (on Incarnation Catholic School): Great academics. Loving teachers and kind students. Irish Eroy (on Incarnation Catholic School): My son moved from New York to Florida and I have been very worried about my son’s transition to his new school, Incarnation Catholic School. The school community was very welcoming and has been providing all the support he needs. Autumn McConnell (Sarasota Christian School): My son attends Sarasota Christian School and absolutely loves it. The teachers, coaches and administration pour love and lessons into the children through their passion for education and love for God. Rebecca Ortega (on Sarasota Christian): My

son has been going to SCS since VPK and now is a freshman and all I can say is I made the best decision, he is not only getting his education but also has gained faith in the Lord. I’m a proud mother of a SCS student and I hope he can continue his success and achievements at SCS. Knight Hamalian (on The Classical Academy): TCA is such a wonderful school—we are looking forward to moving to the new campus on Bee Ridge. This is much more than a school—it is a family community. Kristen McCroy (on St. Martha’s): St. Martha is like a family. Everyone is familiar with the children and families. Corinne Lomangino (on St. Martha’s): We love SMCS, their community, dedicated teachers, high level academics and school structure are top level. Our girls have never been happier at a school than SMCS Sarasota. And the beautiful outdoor grounds and athletic Zazarino Center are a huge plus as well. Jamie Fray (on St. Mary’s Academy): Switching to St. Mary’s Academy was the best thing we could have done for our son. The top notch education he has received is well beyond my expectations!

BEST SUMMER CAMP Summer Success Institute

When we say summer, you say camp! Summer? Camp! The days of summer can feel alarmingly endless without some structure, so look no further

than these camps to provide fun in the sun for your little ones. SUMMER SUCCESS INSTITUTE paves the way for Platinum playtime, or try out VACATION BIBLE SCHOOL INCARNATION CATHOLIC CHURCH for some Gold-winning games. Showcasing a Silver-winning setup is PINEAPPLE KITCHEN, followed by the Bronze contender SUNCOAST SCIENCE CENTER/FAULHABER FAB LAB. Sign your kids up, and sit back and relax while Honorable Mentions Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s Stage of Discovery, Hershorin Schiff Community Day School, True Blue Farm and RCC Farm Experience help out with your summer plans.

Janna Lunetta (on Summer Success Institute): We love SSI and all it has to offer! Their “Be Better” principles always resonate with my kids and I love knowing they are safe, having a ton of fun both in and outdoors, and learning something valuable at the same time. Katie Herbert (on Pineapple Kitchen): Award winning culinary camp Pineapple Kitchen Kids. These camps fill up so quickly it’s the best camp in SRQ/LWR. Tristan Linander (on Suncoast Science Center/ Faulhaber Fab Lab): I first discovered the Fab Lab when my middle school’s STEM program decided to participate in the Fab Lab’s 7th Annual RC Car competition. Even though my group did not win any awards, I still enjoyed the experience and I loved learning about the machines in the lab. The Fab Lab was

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on my mind for weeks as I scoured their website for all of the programs a Fab Lab volunteer could join. This soon led to me joining the Team True Fire rocketry program set up by a former Fab Lab senior and becoming my own leader. I can assure that the Fab Lab provides a safe and fun learning experience for kids who may grow up to become part of the Fab Lab themselves whilst continuing their career paths. Devin Gulliver (on FabLab): Camps are developed and led by incredible high school students who build meaningful connections with campers and make learning fun. Gina Walker (on True Blue Farm): Horses, waterslides, and fun. Fun atmosphere where kids had a great time learning to ride, groom, and care for horses. Anna-May Jeffreys (on RCC Farm Experience): My daughter has been attending camp with the RCC crew since they first opened and loves it. She has learned so much about the care of so many different animals.

BEST PEDIATRICIAN Meyer Pediatrics

The sniffles are dramatic for anyone, but when you’re a little guy faced with a big sneeze, these are the doctors to turn to. Prescribed a Platinum practice is MEYER PEDIATRICS, while KATHERINE KEELEY, M.D. gives the right shots for Gold. LATITUDE PEDIATRIC AND FAMILY CLINIC took

the right temperature to secure a Silver win, and WEISS PEDIATRIC CARE is a well-organ-ized machine, taking home Bronze. Stop by Honorable Mentions Marlene Murphy, M.D. and APC Pediatrics to feel your best.

Chris Enger (Meyer Pediatrics): Went to Dr. Ted as a kid and now he looks after our toddler. Top notch physician with an excellent staff and practice! Mabel Miller (on Lattitude Pediatric and Family Clinic): She is so patient and kind with my kids. There’s none other like Dr Vanessa. Amparo Garcia (on Lattitude Pediatric): This place is an oasis for anyone looking to keep their children safe, protected, and healthy while feeling empowered and heard as a parent. Liz Harbaugh (on Weiss Pediatric Care): From the jump, my pandemic baby has been in the best hands with Dr. Weiss and his team. Everyone there is a treasure. T. Suskind (on Weiss Pediatric Care): Dr. Weiss and staff take the time to really get to know the family and address any concerns. The staff is super friendly, the service is concierge-level, plus they have Harry the Therapy dog!

BEST DENTIST FOR KIDS

Silas E. McAninch, D.D.S.

The tooth fairy and these winners get a lot of business from baby teeth. The best place to put your dollars, besides under a pillow, are these

Sarasota favorites. Little ones can grow into a picture-perfect smile with Platinum winner SILAS E. MCANINCH, D.D.S. or get a glowing smile at Gold winner SMILEWORKS KIDS DENTISTRY. Say ahhhh to the amazing Silver winner CHILDREN’S DENTISTRY OF LAKEWOOD RANCH and brace for the Bronze-winning KIDS CHOOSE US PEDIATRIC DENTISTRY. Floss-friendly faces can also be found at Honorable Mention Starfish Smiles Children’s Dentistry with Mary Egan, D.D.S.

Juan Carlos Chavez (on Silas E. McAninchm DDS): Dr. Mac is the best dentist around. My daughter has been going there since toddler age and she is always happy to have her cleanings there. She is now 14 years old. The staff and facilities are outstanding and always willing to help with any concerns. Also, Dr. Mac always supports the community and schools as well. A visit to the dentist is not a bad experience with Dr. Mac. Aneilia Martin (on SmileWorks Kids Dentistry): The experience is like no other! It’s the Disney world of dentists! Victoria C (on Children’s Dentistry of Lakewood Ranch): Dr. Morgan and all of the staff at Children’s Dentistry of Lakewood Ranch are so friendly and go the extra mile to make your child’s experience positive at the dentist. It’s genuinely a pleasure to be a patient there and we look forward to our visits every six months.

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BEST ORTHODONTIST FOR KIDS

Freeman Orthodontics

BEST KID-FRIENDLY MUSEUM Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium

BEST PUBLIC PARK FOR KIDS

Urfer Family Park

With headgear out of the way, we’re clearly headed in the right direction. A painless path to straight teeth is possible! And while we’re working our way there, here are the spots dedicated to getting our gums gleaming and our teeth terrific. FREEMAN ORTHODONTICS was our tooth pick for Platinum, followed by VARONE ORTHODONTICS, which has the right wisdom-tooth to grab Gold. CARROLL &

Where can you take your mini-me to appreciate art without the fear they’ll knock over a priceless statue? Sarasota’s got you covered in the kid-friendly field of museums. MOTE MARINE LABORATORY AND AQUARIUM comes in first as our Platinum pick for spending the day looking under the sea, and THE BISHOP MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND NATURE is going for Gold with its mind-expanding mission.

SUTTON ORTHODONTICS’ AARON CARROLL,

D.D.S. suctions up Silver, and DR. PAZULSKI AT ABOVE & BEYOND ORTHODONTICS brushes into Bronze. There are plenty more Honorable Mentions out there in our molar system — check out Sallapudi Orthodontics, Hess Orthodontics, Meadows Family Dentistry and Blue Wave Orthodontics.

Katie Kohnowich (on Freeman Orthodontics): Dr. Freeman is hilarious and an amazing orthodontist. Can’t top him. Christine Sutherly (Freeman Orthodontics): Dr. Freeman and his staff are the best! My daughter has been going there for 2 years and I can’t wait to see her new smile this month.

Rhea Tankersley (Dr. Puzlaski): Dr. Puzlaski and his team are so friendly and professional. It is really a joy going into their office and I have been so pleased with how wonderfully they have handled my boy’s orthodontic treatment.

MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS sends us to a Silver outdoor adventure to smell the roses, and THE JOHN AND MABLE RINGLING MUSEUM OF ART is a Bronze bonanza. Don’t miss out on a stop to Honorable Mention Marietta Museum of Art and Whimsy and Sarasota Art Museum.

Jackie Cochran (on Mote Marine): More Marine is our favorite attraction to share with family and guests. The staff there is very knowledgeable and excited to share the science and stories about each exhibit. We have taken Mote Eco tours several times and love taking the little ones to Mote’s educational programs. All this, and we can’t wait for the beautiful new aquarium to open next year. This is truly a gem for Sarasota.

Where do adventures start? Well, with a little imagination and the great outdoors, anything is possible. These parks provided the picture-perfect backdrop for some wholesome fun. URFER FAMILY PARK picks up Platinum this year, while PAYNE PARK argues that the grass is greener and Gold on their side. NATHAN BENDERSON PARK provides the sun and shade to snag Silver, and THE BAY PARK basks in its Bronze-winning glory.

Ashley Neal (on Payne Park): The kids love the circus park playground and adults love the Cafe in the Park for great music and food and drinks on Fridays. Chris Camper (on Urfer Family Park): A great park to spend some family time at. Love the central location. Cintia Elenstar (on The Bay Park): We are so fortunate that our city finally has a beautiful park for all! Want to go on a kayak tour with your family? Want the coolest playground for your kids? Want to take your child for trick or treating? Want to enjoy music concerts? And do all these for free? That’s what you can do at The Bay. Thuan Tan (on The Bay Park): Awesome place for kids and family. Lots of fun activities and events—aerobics, nature walks, kayaking, movies, Halloween celebrations and musical events. Great place for one and all.

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BEAUTY, HEALTH&WELLNESS

BEST HOSPITAL

Sarasota Memorial Hospital

Let’s have a heart-to-heart—when you’ve got a feeling in your bones that it’s time for some expert health help, these hospitals are the best. SARASOTA

MEMORIAL HOSPITAL is a pill-some Platinum while LAKEWOOD RANCH MEDICAL CENTER is a cut above the rest at Gold. HCA FLORIDA SARASOTA

DOCTORS HOSPITAL has Silver all stitched up. Arlene Seifert (on Sarasota Memorial Hospital): It is a wonderful hospital with pleasant and professional staff and volunteers. When my father was ill, they were very attentive and treated him with dignity. Angelina Green (on Sarasota Memorial Hospital): Best around since 1974, for me. Trust them completely. Suzanne Ruble (on Lakewood Ranch Medical Center): Mammogram center is amazing. Staff is caring, compassionate, and knowledgeable. Erin Malloy (Lakewood Ranch Medical Center): I’ve been a visitor a few times, they always take the best care of me, Susan Mays (on HCA Florida Sarasota Doctors Hospital) Private rooms and attentive nurses.

BEST NURSING HOME, RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Plymouth Harbor

After years of clocking in and being re-tired from the daily grind, the beautiful prospect of clocking out forever presents itself. And where to spend your golden-olden years? These award-winning communities offer unwind—where you can enjoy your weekend every day. Now it’s only in our Wildest Dreams Taylor Swift would settle down in Sarasota— when she does put down her mic these communities could be a contender. PLYMOUTH HARBOR boasts a Platinum win while PINES OF SARASOTA HEALTH CARE, LLC nabs the Gold. SUNNYSIDE VILLAGE gets the Gold, chasing deadlines away, and GRAND LIVING AT LAKEWOOD RANCH brags in Bronze that you’ll never have to set an alarm again. Anna Bonds (on Pines of Sarasota Health Care, LLC): Pines has cared for my mother so well this last year. She loves participating in the activity programming— specifically the exercise and art classes. This place is incredible. Wendy Kelly (on Sunnyside Village): Sunnyside cared for my father in hospice during the pandemic. They took wonderful care and were kind and supportive of me.

BEST REHABILITATION FACILITY

Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota

You know when it feels like you’re taking one step forward and 100 steps back? These rehabilitation hospitals know the trick to getting you on track and putting your best foot forward. ENCOMPASS HEALTH REHABILITATION HOSPITAL OF SARASOTA places Platinum while PLYMOUTH HARBOR gets Gold. Pines of SARASOTA HEALTH CARE, LLC is a life-saving Silver and BAY VILLAGE of Sarasota brings us back to our Bronze best. Naomi Glatzer (on Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Sarasota): My father was here a lot (unfortunately), but everyone who worked there was super friendly and made sure he was comfortable and us , his loved ones. I also love that you can bring your pet! He loved seeing my dog Chi Chi when he was away from home. Anna Bonds (on Pines of Sarasota Health Care): My mother started rehab at Pines after her fall and it was life changing for her. Pines recently upgraded their therapy gyms, so I know she was getting the best help. We’re so thankful for the team!

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BEST PHYSICAL THERAPY

Siesta Key Physical Therapy

Physical therapy might ignite a cartoon image of an arm lying on a chaise lounge talking about its feelings. The real deal helps us regain the function and force of some limbs and ligaments that have been sidelined. It wasn’t a stretch for SIESTA KEY PHYSICAL THERAPY to take home Platinum while INTERCOASTAL MEDICAL GROUP regained its strength for Gold. FYZICAL THERAPY & BALANCE CENTERS limbered into Silver and SRQ SPORTS REHAB worked out the knots for Bronze. Head over to Honorable Mentions Warrior Physical Therapy, Axis Physical Therapy, KFix Physical Therapy and Dr. Moscow & Assocaites to put your body back in motion. Audrey Bradell (on Siesta Key Physical Therapy): Owned by a husband and wife team, they will get you back on track with the best and most incredible plan of care. Marcy Yarborough (on Intercoastal Medical Group): The staff of IMG is very professional. They truly care about their patients and are very knowledgeable. I highly recommend them. Zac Ansaldo (on SRQ Sports Rehab): After over a year of dealing with hip pain Reggie was able to identify my problem in just one visit. He gave me a plan to execute on my own time and after about a month it was no longer an issue and I could get back to my favorite activities.

Taylor Brewster (on Warrior Physical Therapy): Dr. Aryn is the best PT, especially pre and postnatal, pelvic floor. Amanda Sowa (on Axis Physical Therapy): Jenny is amazing! Sharri Kni (on KFix Physical Therapy): After years of playing ball and/ or coaching, my right shoulder was shot. Thankful for the excellent care and treatment by Dr. Kayla Winter. No surgery needed.

BEST MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES

Center of Revitalizing Psychiatry

Becoming your best self starts at the top—the brain, the epicenter of all our emotions, and it can feel overwhelming to keep them all in check. Happy, sad, mad . . . and those are just the three we learn in preschool. When your wires get crossed and things go haywire, these mental health mavens brave the brainwaves to get you back to your old self. CENTER OF REVITALIZING PSYCHIATRY wins Platinum and DUBALL COUNSELING AND WELLNESS gets Gold. STEPHANIE K. LIRIO, M.D., P.A. slips into Silver and HERRARA PSYCHOLOGY brings home Bronze. Try Honorable Mentions Leigh Gordon LCSW of Child, Adolescent and Adult Psychotherapy, Dr. Angela Steranko of Fundamental Psychology and Alaysha Prestia, LCSW of Talk & Energy LLC for when things just don’t feel quite right. Kerry Klas (on Center for Revitalizing Psychiatry): Best mental

health providers around. Kris Hauge (on Duball Counseling and Wellness): Olivia has been my therapist for years and has been wonderful to work with. Morgan Bruce (on Herrara Psychology): They conduct thorough evaluations and therapy sessions that looks at the whole individual. They provide excellent resources and recommendations. Julie Torrez (on Dr. Angela Steranko, Fundamental Psychology): When my son was having difficulties keeping up in school, I turned to a trusted company run by a long-time, high school friend. Not only were we directed to the right staff member to help, we were given incredible service by all involved. Dr. Steranko and her team are truly magnificent. Andresina Rodriguez (on Alaysha Prestia, LCSW Talk & Energy LLC): Holistic mental health professional who really takes into account all the needs of her patients no matter their background. Myra Moore (on Alaysha Prestia, LCSW Talk & Energy LLC): Alaysha has a way of making you feel heard. She is kind and patient and allows you to be vulnerable with no judgment. In today’s world, mental health is important. She makes that a priority to help you be the best version of you and encourages it with self love, guidance and patience. She gives perspective in a kind manner. She is dedicated and does everything from the heart. You go here and you’ll feel like you’re at home.

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BEST URGENT CARE FACILITY

SMH Urgent Care Center, University Pkwy.

When disaster strikes at dawn and your regular doctor is still in dreamland, these urgent care facilities are here for you. Operating and operating at all hours, they know emergencies don’t wait. SMH URGENT CARE CENTER AT UNIVERSITY PARKWAY proves a Platinum-worthy pick, while SMH URGENT CARE CENTER AT BEE RIDGE ROAD stays open and going for Gold. Try SMH URGENT CARE CENTER AT STICKNEY POINT ROAD when you find yourself in a sticky sickly situation—our Silver winner. Or go to THE CENTER FOR URGENT CARE for a band-aidworthy Bronze. Honorable Mentions AFC Urgent Care and SMH Urgent Care Center at Venice also made it high on our list to lower your temperature. Patti Wrobel (on SMH Urgent Care Center at University Parkway): Excellent diagnosis team and treatment as well. Naomi Glatzer (on SMH Urgent Care Center at Stickney Point Road): I needed a last minute appointment and they were able to take me. Fast, friendly, and diagnosed me on the day and gave me medicine to help me out immediately. Laurie McEnroe (on The Center for Urgent Care): Professional and caring staff that is there when I need them. Amanda Mulvaney (on SMH Urgent Care Center at Venice): Amazing and efficient urgent care center.

BEST EYECARE PRACTICE Center For Sight

Keep your eyes on the prize—just like these winners. No blindspots here, as CENTER FOR SIGHT pulls off a Platinum victory and THE EYE ASSOCIATES makes the right spectacle of themselves to grab Gold. COASTAL EYE INSTITUTE makes contact to keep them in the Silver spot, and INFOCUS FAMILY EYECARE bats their eyelashes towards a Bronze best. Honorable Mentions Vision Source: Donna L. Shotwell, O.D., P.A.; Dr. Susan Sloan; University Eye Care; GulfCoast Eye Center, Golden Vision and Spectacle Gallery were also framed for success. LC Nixon (on Center for Sight): They suggested I would benefit from a pair of glasses specifically for reading and computers. They are amazing, the best I’ve had in 30 years. They are very efficient with appointments, you never wait for more than a few minutes. Dawn Rhodes (on The Eye Associates): This is a wonderful eye doctor offering full services. They conduct a thorough eye exam ending with a consultation. The team there is friendly and knowledgeable. Holly Shulman (on Coastal Eye Institute): Dr Khator is the best. Patti Wrobel (on GulfCoast Eye Center): Dr Bovio and his team are fantastic. They have the latest diagnostic equipment and an excellent selection of eyewear as well.

BEST COSMETIC DENTIST

Exceptional Dentistry of Sarasota: Dr. Thomas Doan

If you want a Taylor-Approved smile that could light up this whole town, these dentists are truly Timeless. EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTRY OF SARASOTA: DR. THOMAS DOAN has the best flossophy for Platinum, while INTEGRATED DENTAL OF FLORIDA follows the correct route-canal to Gold. DR. JILLIAN PORTO, DMD RESTORATIVE AND IMPLANT DENTISTRY uses word of mouth to spread the news about their Silver-winning spot, and SARASOTA SMILE DESIGN knows the drill to bring home Bronze. Straighten your smile at Honorable Mentions Lakewood Ranch Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, Michelle Scala, D.M.D., P.A.; and Krause Dental Implant, Cosmetic and Restorative Dentistry. G.D. (on Dr. Jillian Porto, DMD Restorative and Implant Dentistry): Dr Jillian Porto is professional, kind and so smart. I cannot imagine another dentist as awesome. M.B. Martha Barfield (on Lakewood Ranch Family & Cosmetic Dentistry, Michelle Scala DMD, PA): My new Smile gave me that extra confidence to target my life goals and lift the spirit of others along the way, Thank you Lakewood Ranch Cosmetic Dentistry for my beautiful smile.

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BEST SPEECH THERAPY

Neuro Speech Therapy, LLC

Some of us take for granted the gift of gab. For those who need an extra boost to emphasize their statements, these speech therapists are here to help. Readers were vocal about Platinum pick NEURO SPEECH THERAPY, with PAM PLANK OF SERTOMA KIDS grabbing a Gold and PINNACLE PEDIATRIC THERAPY GROUP speaking up for Silver. Eugenia Lomazov (on Neuro Speech Therapy): Stephanie Lomazov is not only an incredibly skilled and knowledgeable therapist but a truly caring and compassionate person. Jamie Millee (on Pam Plank of Sertoma Kids): Pam is an incredible asset in our community serving children of all ages.

BEST CHIROPRACTOR

Circle Chiropractic

Spine-ally something to get your back back together. The top spot this year goes to CIRCLE CHIROPRACTIC, which will have you standing with Platinum-winning posture. THE ROOTS HEALTH CENTERS cracks into Gold and PINNACLE CHIROPRACTIC-PEDIATRIC AND PRENATAL CHIROPRACTORS hit the right funny bone for our

readers to win Silver. THORASSIC PARK finishes by bending into Bronze. Don’t get it twisted, there are plenty more professionals to see at Honorable Mentions Back to Health Wellness Center, Dr. Moscow & Associates and Healing Hands Chiropractic & Massage. Ben Duke (on Circle Chiropractic): There is a healing culture at Circle Chiropractic. From the doctors to the front desk, they truly care about their patients. They provide exceptional chiropractic care and state-of-the-art rejuvenation therapies. They are second to none. Daniela Selgado (on The Roots Health Centers): They have helped me get back to the life I want to live by helping my pain and making my back stronger. Kayla Desjardins (on Pinnacle Chiropractic-Pediatric and Prenatal Chiropractors): The staff members at Pinnacle are extremely amazing. They do exceptional work and have helped me so much. Pinnacle is truly the best chiropractic care. Tina Wilson (Thorassic Park): After my car accident I went to see Dr. Wilson. That was in 2016. I will forever be a patient because of his expertise. It’s nice to meet a doctor with phenomenal bedside manner and love for his patients. Janice White (on Dr. Moscow & Associates): Dr. Moscow is the best chiropractor I have ever seen. He and his staff are amazing.

BEST ACUPUNCTURE

Jen Maecker Acupuncture & Wellness

Needle-less to say, acupuncture isn’t for everyone. Spending the afternoon covered in tiny sharp needles? We see your point. Acupuncture, however, is a centuries-old fix for a multitude of ailments, and it helps you feel better without filling you up on chemicals. JEN MAECKER ACUPUNCTURE & WELLNESS had the right piercing insight for Platinum, while ROOT THERAPIES pressurepointed the voters to Gold. SRQ ACUPUNCTURE & MASSAGE secured Silver, and SARASOTA CENTER FOR ACUPUNCTURE AND NUTRITION, DR. CHRISTINA CAPTAIN took a stab at Bronze. Heal with Honorable Mentions Larissa Carmichael and Acupuncture Anywhere. Mike DeMaio (on Jen Maecker Acupuncture & Wellness): Kindness and professionalism are in short supply in today’s world. Jennifer has both in abundance. Leena Guptha (on Root Therapies): Dr Jessica is a compassionate healer. The best Acupuncturist in the city. Mel Anderson (on SRQ Acupuncture & Massage): Always attentive to my health needs. Lisa Mucciarone (on Sarasota Center for Acupuncture and Nutrition, Dr. Christina Captain): Dr Captain and her team gave me my life back, She gave me

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the care and tests I needed to find and eradicate my stomach problems. I’ve recommended her to 3 family members since and will continue to praise her skill, knowledge and kindness.

BEST WELLNESS CENTER

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

Well, well, well, if it isn’t that time of year where you decide once again to get your wellness life together. Just like Taylor says, “You’re the only one of you, baby, that’s the fun of you!” So shouldn’t you treat yourself as best as possible? SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA - LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) push-ups to Platinum, and BLUE DOOR SPA & SALON gives out Gold-worthy spa services. SALT OF THE EARTH SARASOTA has the sodium stores for Silver and MY SANCTUARY OF WELLNESS is a Bronze-winning best for betterment. Check out Honorable Mentions SRQ Med Spa & IV Vitamins, Mystical Oasis Sound Healing & Yoga Studio and Health and Beauty Integrative Center. Jeannine Lehman (on Salt of the Earth Sarasota): Diana and staff are the best! Salt therapy works for many ailments. So zen and wonderful here. Brandon Isennock (on My Sanctuary of Wellness): Love this place. The circuit is the best! Roger Kaplan (on

SRQ Med Spa & IV Vitamins): I started getting IV Vitamins at SRQ Med Spa2 months ago. I had no idea how depleted I was until I had three vitamin drips! What an improvement in my energy level. This is amazing. Everyone should try this at least a few times to really understand how great you feel when your vitamin health improves. Karen Pauline (on Mystical Oasis Sound Healing & Yoga Studio Healing & Yoga Studio): Sound baths have been a transformative experience for me, especially since traditional meditation never quite resonated with me. Every session with Kelly leaves me in a profound state of calm. I make it a point to attend a few times monthly, recognizing the need to disconnect and rejuvenate. Additionally, the crystal light bed experience there offers another level of relaxation.

BEST FITNESS COACH / STUDIO

Jazzercise Lakewood Ranch Shari Nastri

Working on your abs can feel like a waist of time, but feeling your best is always worth it. Need some backup getting back to the gym? May the fitness be with you—and these experts by your side.

JAZZERCISE LAKEWOOD RANCH SHARI NASTRI

says cardi-yo to first place, winning Platinum, while VAL MACKAY FITNESS COACHING has voters

throwing a cross-fit for second, taking home Gold. CHICABOOM FITNESS SARASOTA sit-ups into Silver, and BARRE3 IN LAKEWOOD RANCH muscles their way into the competition, finishing out the category for Bronze. Get hyped up and toned at Honorable Mentions Hot Yoga 4 You and Coastal Fitness and Correction. Brenda Mack (on Jazzercise Lakewood Ranch Shari Nastri): Jazzercise Lakewood Ranch has become my happy place! In less than a year, its owner, Shari Cohen Nastri, has built her Jazzercise franchise into a place where many of us enjoy fitness and friendship at our “home away from home.” Exercising there is so much fun it doesn’t feel like work. I’ve made many wonderful friends, and the best part is how much we support each other. Shari’s leadership and vibrant personality has turned us into one big happy family. She is such an amazing woman, and I’m so glad to be a part of the fun and fitness at Jazzercise Lakewood Ranch. Ben Chalmers (on Val Mackay Fitness Coaching): Thirty-two years of being alive, not wanting to workout, not trying to improve myself and working with Val not only made me healthier it wanted me to stay healthy. Edith Richman (on ChicaBoom Fitness Sarasota): In the many years of training with ChicaBoom my physical and emotional transformation is beyond my own beliefs! The attention to your personal

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needs is their number one goal. Their small group training and camaraderie within the groups motivates you and makes you accountable to take care of your health and well being. Elle Wood (on Barre3, Main Street Lakewood Ranch): Best full body workout with the best instructors.

BEST YOGA STUDIO Hot Yoga 4 You

We don’t want to chakra but there are some seriously great yoga studios about town. Nah-ma-stay while we unveil this year’s winners. HOT YOGA 4 YOU will have you happy-baby at their Platinum-winning spot, while BODY HEAT HOT YOGA will turn your frown upside-down-dog with their Gold greatness. BHAVANA YOGA STUDIO inhales and exhales their way to Silver, and YOGA SHACK unlocks your inner warrior in Bronze. Unfold your mat at Honorable Mentions Yoga From the Heart, Pineapple Yoga + Cycling Studio | SRQ and Rosemary Court Yoga. Adriana Gonzalez (on Hot Yoga 4 You): I moved in July to Sarasota and immediately found my happy place. Hot Yoga 4 U has amazing instructors and all the classes are incredible and challenging. Alex Maus (on Body Heat Hot Yoga): This studio rocks! It’s beautiful and the teachers are incredible. It’s a weekly must. Lisa Moody (on Bhavana Yoga Studio): Brittany has built a space that feels like a gigantic, relaxing hug. The minute you walk in, you

simply exhale. She has put together teachers and facilitators that really know what they’re doing and offer many innovative, feel-good classes and workshops like Pranayama breathwork, chakra balancing, restorative yoga, hot Yin and more. I’ve practiced yoga for 30 years, all around the country and Bhavana is truly a special studio. Regina Klein (on Bhavana Yoga Studio): A caring and supportive yoga community has been created here. They truly care about their students. Katherine Misch (on Yoga Shack): Awesome instructors. Annie Contos (on Yoga From the Heart): Katie Hebda is the most amazing yoga instructor. My body feels like it got a massage after every class.

BEST LOCAL HAIR SALON

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

Hairography. Ever heard of it? It’s the flipping and flopping and fluffing and swishing of luscious locks for left to right all to the beat of your favorite Taylor Swift song. Quite literally included in the choreo of her nearly four-hour show—no matter what h-era you’re in, these winners will straighten you out when you’re in the spotlight. When your look isn’t quite right, sometimes the root of the problem is your hair. These winners will have your hair falling into place like dominoes. Perm-anently on top?

Platinum winner SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA - LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) Comb on over to Gold winner FRESH SALON, ASIA BEBBER, or check out the fringe benefits at Silver-winning NUOVO SALONS. BLUE DOOR SPA & SALON curls up the competition to take Bronze. Bob and weave your way to Honorable Mentions Cutting Loose Salon-Honore, Spa Hollywood, LG Howard & Company, Intrepid Salon, Yellow Strawberry Salon in Lakewood Ranch, The Confidence Factory Hair Salon, Maven & Mane Salon, Musart Salon and Vanessa P—Non Toxic & Organic Hair Stylist. Mariah Malzan (on Fresh Salon, Asia Bebber): You just shouldn’t go to anyone else. End of story. Minta Getzen (on Nuovo Salons): Nuovo has a stylist that can meet each individual’s age and style. When I experienced Covid-induced alopecia, coowner Terry McKee navigated me through styles that worked until my hair grew back. Barbara Fittipaldi (on Cutting Loose Salon -Honore): They are friendly, thoughtful and very responsive. And they have the best hairdresser I have ever found (in 70 years)–Kelly! She keeps my hairstyle current and easy. Great salon! Susan Mays (on Spa Hollywood): Up to date hairstyles with well trained stylists. Excellent manicurist/pedicurist, modern

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SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE~ PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ GOLD WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ GOLD WINNER

VOTED ONE OF “SARASOTA’S TOP 12 DENTISTS” BY SRQ MAGAZINE READERS

BEST OF SRQ 2024 TOP 12 DENTISTS

From the cover of Vogue to MTV Movie Awards to the Grammys, T-Swift is never more than a few feet from a camera flash. What’s the key to a killer photo? White, dazzling teeth ensure you never have a Picture to Burn. These dentists are a hit with our readers and ready to get your smile photo-shoot fantastic. Recognizing this year’s 2024 Top 12 Best of SRQ Local Dentists: ALLURE DENTAL AESTHETICS; DR. HOWARD CHASOLEN COSMETIC DENTISTRY; EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTRY OF SARASOTA, DR. THOMAS DOAN; DR. THOMAS A. BOWLES; PARKWOOD DENTAL; INTEGRATED DENTAL OF FLORIDA; DR. JILLIAN PORTO; DR. SCOTT G. AMES; SRQ DENTISTRY; DR. MICHAEL R. DOROCIAK; SARASOTA SMILE DESIGN, DR. JENIFER C. BACK; AND KENNEDY DENTAL.

Gio Cantarella (on SRQ Dentistry): We found Dr. Lirio very professional and efficient and unlike others not trying to upsell us any unneeded procedures! A rare find and very competent with the latest equipment in his practice. He has a very pleasant customer-friendly style. Mimi Kinkead (on Howard Chasolen, DMD PA Cosmetic Dentistry): Best hygienist. Very professional. Amy Newton (Exceptional Dentistry of Sarasota, Dr Thomas Doan): Everyone in the office is so warm and welcoming, they treat you like family. I used to be afraid of the dentist, but now I love going. Erica Trinkwalder (on Dr. Thomas A Bowles): Personable, kind, and patient. Wade Hamilton (on Parkwood Dental): Awesome staff— calm your fears and did a great job with minimum pain. Buddy Benson (on Integrated Dental of Florida): Amazing team and environment. They were very informative and caring. Definity best dentist in town. Patricia Johnson (Dr. Michael Dorociak, DDS, MAGD): Dr Dorociak, Dr Eckles and the entire staff are so caring and professional. It is a pleasure to go to the dentist there.

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SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE T O P12BESTLOCAL DENTISTS SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE SILVER WINNER

VOTED ONE OF “SARASOTA’S TOP 12 DENTISTS” BY SRQ MAGAZINE READERS

EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTRY OF SARASOTA

Drs. Doan, Suarez, and Cole provide the ultimate in personalized, comprehensive cosmetic and restorative dental care using the very latest in modern digital technology. Whether it is a simple procedure to the most complex, our team can deliver precise and pain-free care where integrity will always come first.

WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOUR PRACTICE THAT SETS YOU APART? PASSION. We absolutely love what we do every day because not only are we passionate about the art and science of dentistry, but also level of engagement with each and every one of our patients. Being the best at something requires the passion to achieve the highest of excellence from our customer service to our clinical skills. From the moment of your first phone call, our team will take every step to ensure that all of your concerns are taken care of to the finest details. We make continuous investment in the latest digital technologies and education that provides us the flexibility to do same day dentistry or comprehensive restorative interdisciplinary dentistry with utmost care. At the end of the day, it is the passion for what we do that allows our patients feel that they are well taken care of in our unique dental family.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? PEOPLE.

The Business of Dentistry is not just about teeth. It is about the connection to people in our care. Whether it is relieving pain or restoring a beautiful smile, it is about engagement to the ones that we are in service to. We love it when we can be a partner in someone’s healthcare and to achieve their goals. When we do, everyone wins.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE RECOGNIZED BY SRQ READERS AS TOP DENTISTS? PURPOSE. We are so grateful to have all three exceptional doctors in our practice to achieve this accolade. Being recognized by those who are under our care and from those who have seen our work in the community, we are truly humbled and honored. Each day, we treat one patient at a time and give them our fullest attention. When we are voted to be the “Best of SRQ Local”, it is a validation that we have a made a difference in someone’s life. This is what matters and gives our team purpose.

P (941) 365-4418 | F (941) 365-2704

E exceptionaldentists@comcast.net

www.ExceptionalDentists.com

Exceptional Dentistry of Sarasota 1999 Lincoln Drive, Suite 102, Sarasota, FL 34232
SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE~ CELEBRATING 22 YEARS OF EXCEPTIONAL DENTISTRY SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE T O P12BESTLOCAL DENTISTS AWARDED TOP 12 DENTISTS AND PLATINUM TOP COSMETIC DENTIST

VOTED ONE OF

BEST OF SRQ 2024 TOP REALTORS ®

Agent to the . . . stars? Even if you’re not a Grammy winner like Ms. Swift these agents will have you feeling out of this world with excitement and over-themoon with choices. A helping hand when deciding where to lay down your mailbox—readers in Sarasota felt strongly that these real estate mavens know just the spot for your next move. THE TOP 12 BEST REAL ESTATE AGENTS ARE: MELISSA KOBIELNIK LIVING VOGUE; SEAN DREZNIN; KASEY TRUMAN; HARRY E. ROBBINS ASSOCIATES; MOLLY HIGDON; RYNDIE BRUSCO; JEANEEN WIEGAND; THE MEI TEAM | DENISE AND NICOLE MEI MICHAEL SAUNDERS; ELIZABETH SANTELLI PEPPERTREE BAY REALTY; BRITTANY GEIMAN THE COLLECTIVE GROUP; ASHLEY GUTTRIDGE AND DAWNELLE LANNERS LEGACY HOME COLLECTION, KELLER WILLIAMS; AND DAVID PERKOWSKI

Susan Meehaj (on Melissa Kobielnik—Living Vogue): She is so committed to her craft. Straightforward and will be your biggest advocate. Definitely someone to have on your side when you are making a big decision like buying a home. She is prompt, timely, dedicated and professional. Maryann Goetsch (on Sean Dreznin): Best customer support. Brett Covanhahn (on Kasey Truman): Kasey Truman is the best. We love her as a realtor. Audrey Green (on Molly Higdon): One of if not the most knowledgeable realtors I have ever met, extremely knowledgeable, understands her clients and delivers exactly what they want. Silvana Malpelli (on Ryndie Brusco): Ryndie is a true professional. She takes care of your every need before and after closing. I have been a broker for thirty years and was very impressed by the overall service. Freddie Alban (on Jeaneen Wiegand): The best agent. Sent out wide coverage of the listing and sold within a month! She is the best. Fern Candido (Peppertree Bay Realty, Elizabeth Santelli): I was here for two weeks only. My condo was listed, with a photo shoot scheduled while here. Within a half hour they had staged details I never imagined. They even trimmed shrubs that were blocking my beautiful view of my pond. My place has never looked so good. I would buy it again. Erika Springstead (on Brittany Geiman—The Collective Group): Britt is hands down the best realtor I have ever worked with. She put together a plan and literally spent an entire weekend helping me shop for plants and plant landscaping to improve my curb appeal. She helped me clean windows, add touches and also staged my home on her own. She goes above and beyond every day. She is definitely one of the best. Mike Mills (on Denise Mei, Michael Saunders): Denise has helped me with my home search in the past. Her knowledge of the Sarasota market is unmatched. She takes her time to put you in the right home. Allison Imre (on David Perkowski): David is knowledgeable, patient, attentive and an incredible negotiator. Overall, an absolute stellar realtor. Danielle Duchene (on Ashley Guttridge and Dawnelle Lanners—Legacy Home Collection, Keller Williams): Ashley and Dawnelle are simply amazing with clients. Their attention to detail, patience and industry knowledge is top notch. They are my personal and professional go to for anything real estate related.

MOLLY HIGDON

Molly Higdon, a Sarasota local since 2010, a ributes her education in Business Marketing and Management and her passion for helping others as the groundwork for her success in Real Estate. Molly has built a reputation for her refreshingly friendly customer service and is known for her a ention to detail, strong work ethic, professionalism, and integrity. Molly is commi ed to providing the highest level of representation to her clients. Her goal is to create a stress-free, enjoyable and profitable experience for every client whether they are buying or selling.

“I STRIVE TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS IN ALL THAT I DO. MY GOAL IS ALWAYS TO HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOURS.”

MY MISSION As a member of the Sarasota Gulf Coast Homes team, our mission is to deliver excellence and aim to exceed expectations in everything we do. Our goal is to guide you successfully and easily through the contractual investment and emotional decisions involved in the real estate process. We are committed to providing you with superior service and expertise. ACCOLADES Molly is a proud member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, earning the Guild Elite Designation, the institute’s most prestigious designation of excellence, recognizing the best of the best with proven performance in the multi-million-dollar market. In addition, she is a member of the Keller Williams Luxury International Division. With over $60M worth of real estate sold and 100% 5-Star reviews, she has what it takes to help you with all of your Real Estate needs.

Molly Higdon

Keller Williams on the Water

M 941.875.1722

1549 Ringling Blvd, Sarasota

molly.higdon@kw.com

mollyhigdon.sarasotagulfcoastrealtors.com mollyhigdon_realtor

“SARASOTA’S
TOP 12 REALTORS”
SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~

THE MEI TEAM | DENISE AND NICOLE MEI

Denise and Nicole Mei are motivated by their steadfast dedication to providing exceptional real estate solutions. As a collaborative family team, Denise and Nicole leverage their diverse skills and experiences to deliver unparalleled service to their clients. The Mei team consistently ranks among the top-performing teams at Michael Saunders & Company, a testament to their ability to understand and exceed their customers’ needs and expectations. Beyond their professional achievements, the Mei Team prioritizes quality time with family above all else.

“GUIDING YOU HOME WITH INTEGRITY, EXPERTISE, AND A COMMITMENT TO EXCEPTIONAL SERVICE EVERY STEP OF THE WAY.”

AS A REALTOR, what sets our business apart is our personalized approach to each client’s needs. We prioritize building strong relationships and understanding our clients’ unique goals, whether they’re buying or selling a property. Our commitment to communication, transparency, and integrity ensures that every transaction is smooth and successful.

Our best advice for someone looking to buy or sell in the current real estate market is to stay informed and work with a knowledgeable real estate agent who understands the local market dynamics. With the current market fluctuations, having expert guidance and strategic planning is crucial for achieving your goals.

What we love most about our job is the opportunity to make a positive impact in people’s lives. Whether it’s helping clients find their dream home

or guiding them through the process of selling their property, being able to assist them during such significant life transitions is incredibly rewarding. We thrive on the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve played a role in making their real estate goals a reality.

Being recognized by SRQ readers as a Top Realtor this year is a tremendous honor and validation of the hard work and dedication we’ve put into our profession. It signifies that our peers and clients appreciate the quality of service we provide and trust us to deliver exceptional results. This recognition motivates us to continue striving for excellence and serving our clients with the highest level of professionalism and expertise.

The Mei Team

Michael Saunders & Company | Siesta Key Office O (941) 349-3444 F (941) 349-4333

Denise Mei, Broker-Associate M (941) 685-3198

E DeniseMei@michaelsaunders.com

Nicole Mei, Realtor M (941) 400-0540

E NicoleMei@michaelsaunders.com

5100 Ocean Blvd., Sarasota, FL 34242 michaelsaunders.com/meiteam

VOTED ONE OF “SARASOTA’S TOP 12 REALTORS” BY SRQ MAGAZINE READERS SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE~

VOTED ONE OF “SARASOTA’S TOP 12 REALTORS” BY SRQ

MAGAZINE READERS

JEANEEN WIEGAND

I am thrilled and honored to be awarded a Top Realtor for the third consecutive year in SRQ Magazine’s Best of SRQ Local competition. I’d like to express my deepest gratitude to our wonderful clients and customers who have been the foundation of our success. We are humbled by the relationships we have developed over time. The feedback, encouragement, and loyalty have guided us in shaping our business and enhancing our superb service. We are dedicated to continuing to exceed your expectations from our first meeting to the closing table. We believe in building a foundation of trust with everyone involved and staying in constant contact during the buying or selling process.

“I’D LIKE TO EXPRESS MY DEEPEST GRATITUDE TO OUR WONDERFUL CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS.”

BRITTANY GEIMAN

With an unwavering commitment to exceeding her client’s expectations, Brittany embodies integrity and care in every aspect of real estate. She believes that luxury is not a price point but a level of service and greets each opportunity with heartfelt dedication, strong work ethic and tailors her approach to her clients’ unique needs and aspirations. Whether embarking on buying, building, selling, or investing, Brittany’s meticulous attention to detail and genuine professionalism ensure she delivers unparalleled support throughout the real estate process. As a trusted Realtor®, her clients feel understood, supported, and empowered every step of the way. Let Brittany be your advisor, offering not just expertise, but also a warm and personal touch that makes your real estate journey truly luxurious.

“LOVE PEOPLE AND SHOW THEM GRACE, IN DOING SO, YOU BRING LIGHT AND HOPE TO A WORLD THAT IS IN NEED OF COMPASSION.”

Thank you sincerely to all those who took the time to vote for me. Your support means everything and I am appreciative for your confidence in me and my locally owned brokerage, Wiegand Realty.

Jeaneen Wiegand

Wiegand Realty

M (941) 232-0946

jeaneen@wiegandrealty.com

wiegandrealty.com

Wiegand Realty Sarasota

jeaneenwiegand.sarasota

In loving memory of Brittany’s son, Maverick Jay Geiman (7/4/213/6/24) a sweet, beautiful, loving boy whose light will continue to shine through the love and honor of those who cherish him. You are loved beyond measure sweet boy!! And to Brittany’s daughter Riley Grace, who continues to be a beacon of light, love and grace let it remind us all that life is precious and short. Never take a moment for granted!

Brittany Geiman PLLC, Realtor ® CLHMS

Keller Williams On The Water Sarasota

| Luxury International

M (513) 801-6781

1549 Ringling Blvd. Suite 600, Sarasota, Florida info@collectivegroupfl.com | www.collectivegroupfl.com collectivegroupfl

SRQ local 2024 Best of ~ SRQ MAGAZINE
SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ GOLD WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ SILVER WINNER

facility, friendly staff. Angela Janney (on LG Howard & Company): Greatest stylists and warm welcoming atmosphere. Michelle Polito (on Blue Door Spa); Blue Door Spa is a haven for tranquility and relaxation. From the moment I walk into the door, I take a deep breath and start going into a meditative state of mind. I look forward to my facials and massages. I always get there early so I can enjoy the relaxation room and sauna. The staff is amazing. When I am stressed out, I think back to my times at the Blue Door and relax again.

BEST BARBER 1800 Barber Shop

Let’s cut to the chase—the difference between a good and bad haircut can be razor-thin. These barbers trimmed the competition and had readers’ hair rising up to vote for them. 1800 BARBER SHOP was the shear winner with a Platinum win, followed by FRESKO FADEZ BARBERSHOP, which buzzcut their way to a Gold standard. THE BARBER LOUNGE SMP AND BARBER STUDIO sharpened their scissors to chop their way to a Silver top spot, while PALMER’S BARBERSHOP refused to fade into the background and took home Bronze. Kristina Kneram (on 1800 Barber Shop) The owner is always there, always very kind! Never have a problem with what we ask for. Jose Rodriguez (on 1800 Barber Shop): Followed Lee here from another shop due to his meticulous detail to taking care of my beard. The

owner is also great at what she does and is always booked with clients. Shop is clean and inviting and they take great care of their clients. Paul Lautenschlager (on FresKo FadeZ BarberShop 1) Fresko’s haircuts are always on point. Always leave his shops feeling better than when I went in. Todd Steiner (on FresKo FadeZ BarberShop 1): Best fade in town. They treat you like family. Nick Grise (on The Barber Lounge SMP and Barber Studio): Top notch staff I love coming here every time. This shop is always evolving and updating their skills to offer a wider variety of services to their customers. A true treasure of Sarasota. Oscar Aguero (on The Barber Lounge SMP and Barber Studio) Frankie is extremely talented! Her one on one conversations are proof that she treats you like family. This year she helped me undergo a hair transformation and gave me a killer perm! I tell all my friends and family to book an appointment with her because she never disappoints. Kyle Hackel (on Palmer’s Barbershop) Chris has been a barber and friend for 10+ years. I’ve watched his career progress to the point he is owning/operating his own shop. He is also a great member of the community who genuinely cares. Love Chris and his trade. Chris Enger (on Palmer’s Barbershop): I wouldn’t travel out of my way for a haircut if it wasn’t for the quality, skill, and atmosphere that Chris Wagner provides at Palmer’s.

BEST DAY SPA

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa

Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

When in doubt, spa it out. These winners are scentsational for relaxation. SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA-LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) is pampered in Platinum while FACE FOUNDRIÈ, SARASOTA UTC exfoliates the rest to grab Gold. LAKEWOOD RANCH MED SPA fills your day with Silver-winning serenity and BLUE DOOR SPA & SALON basks in the Bronze glow. Find your zen at Honorable Mentions Elite Medical Spa of Sarasota, Spa Hollywood, Hygeia Spa & Fitness, Sirius Day Spa Salon & Med Spa-UTC, L.Spa, The Inner Circle Spa and Sarasota Premier Aesthetics. Pamela Modisett (on SiriusLakewood Ranch): I love spending the day at this spa, so relaxing. Best products and services. Susan Hedgcock (on Sirus-Lakewood Ranch): I decided at the last minute to try and get a blow out for a special event that day. Every where I went, that felt like a quality venue, I encountered a very negative attitude. I know! I never do this. When I booked online (so easy!) an hour before the open appointment, my treatment was dramatically different. They celebrated my arrival, treated me to a chair massage when I arrived early, and were so kind. The service was 5 star (and I have lived in Dubai, so I know 5 star), and my hair style

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was amazing! I laughed, I relaxed, and I left like I received so much more than I paid for. Angela Devine (on Face Foundriè): My daughter’s and I go frequently and love it! We always have the best experience and the owner and staff are so professional and wonderful. Samantha King (on Face Foundriè): The best facials, lashes and brows! The estheticians are all incredible. Erin Malloy (on Lakewood Ranch Med Spa): I just recently discovered them, the owner Tina is fantastic. Her staff is absolutely awesome, everyone is so helpful and caring. Jeanie Holzman (on Lakewood Ranch Med Spa): Great menu of items. Staff is amazing. Ambiance is relaxing and inviting. Great results so far with some new services I’m trying. Give it a try. This spa will not disappoint. Tammy Wearsch ( on Blue Door Spa & Salon): Everyone there is extremely friendly. It’s a very relaxing environment and it’s pretty much a one stop shop. Lori Lovesky (on Hygeia Spa & Fitness): Hygeia Spa & Fitness offers a unique setting where relaxation and healing come together. With two outstanding massage therapists, an amazing aesthetician and a very experience personal trainer, you couldn’t ask for more. Their individual fitness gym along with a stellar personal trainer offers privacy and expertise in meeting your fitness goals. I highly recommend this little gem of a spa. Emmi Mathis (on L.Spa): They have all of the top of the line

skin care. I love sending all my friends and family here. Dustin Simon (on The Inner Circle Spa): Absolutely love The Inner Circle Spa, I wish they had a location in Fort Lauderdale where we live now! I miss my monthly visits to their spa so much, I went there for years before leaving Sarasota. When I’m back in town I always try to make time to stop in for some treatments. Diana Born (on Sarasota Premier Aesthetics): Amazing injectors and results.

BEST MASSAGE

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

Are we sensing a little bit of tension? Knead to relax? You’re knot going to believe it, but we know just the place. After 152 shows across five continents for her epic Eras tour, Taylor Swift will be in need of some serious self-care. Running, jumping and singing up and down her three separate stages for an Olympic-level performance—she could make a stop in Sarasota to treat her muscles to these awardwinning hands. SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA - LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) pulls your muscles back into a Platinum place while MASSAGE BY DAWN gets Gold. ESSENTIAL HEALING MASSAGE & BODYWORKS takes home Silver and LAKEWOOD RANCH MED SPA is our Bronze winner. Sit back

and relax at Honorable Mentions Blue Door Spa & Salon, KJ3 Massage , Hygeia Spa & Fitness, Flow Massage and Wellness, Terry Ganus, NMT, LMT and Elite Stretch Therapy Massage and Recovery. Erin Malloy (on Sirius Day Spa Salon & Med Spa - Lakewood Ranch (SR70): Irina gives the best massages. Caleb Smith (on Massage by Dawn): Dawn’s unparalleled professionalism as well as her personal attention to each and every client of hers, makes her the best massage therapist in the entire state, much less Sarasota. Grace Deo (on Essential Healing Massage & Bodyworks): Sheila is a life changing massage therapist and Reiki Master. Michelle Di Capua (on Lakewood Ranch Med Spa): Very clean and professional. Great ambiance. Technique was comforting and relaxing. Welcoming staff. Ashley Garcia (on KJ3 Massage): Kasi is wonderful. I went to her for my prenatal massage and she is so talented. She’s thorough and calming and takes good care of her clients.

BEST INJECTOR

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

Readers had plenty of picks and sharp selections when inspecting the perfect injector. SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA - LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) pierces and plumps into Platinum, while

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AIRE MEDSPA, DR. FRANCESCA WALTERS gets Gold. ELITE MEDICAL SPA sticks it into Silver and LAKEWOOD RANCH MED SPA beautifies into Bronze. Perfect your pout at Honorable Mentions Kim Poonai A.P.R.N., Vita Aesthetics; Venus Med Spa; West Coast Plastic Surgery, Dr. Brandon Lambiris; and Health and Beauty Integrative Center. Ana Alieksieienko (on Aire MedSpa, Dr. Francesca Walters): I have been going there to get my laser hair removal done and I love everyone that works there. They are really kind and always welcoming. My experience there is always the best and the results are amazing. After just one visit I have seen a difference. Dr. Walters does an amazing job every time! Amy Newton (on Elite Medical Spa): The best injectors in town. I love going to see Farrah and Jeff. Kathleen Fisher (on Lakewood Ranch Med Spa): Lakewood Ranch, Med Spa is my favorite because they are experts at injecting exactly what kind of injection to use whether it’s a face filler or Botox. The best part is no bruising for me and I look fantastic when they are finished. Andrew Azadian (on Kim Poonai APRN, Vita Aesthetics): Kim is so knowledgeable and has a great bedside manner. She goes above and beyond to make sure you understand what treatments are being done and answers all questions appropriately.

BEST AESTHETICIAN

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

Let’s face it—clear skin can clear up any bad day. Now re-wax and let us fill you in on our readers’ favorite places to make a skin-vestment. SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA-LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) is a pore-fect Platinum, while HONEYGLOW BY DEE AESTHETICS glows for Gold. SPA HOLLYWOOD, BRANDY PARROTT smooths your wrinkles into a Silver spot, while WEST COAST PLASTIC SURGERY, MARIAH MALZAN pampers your pimples away for Bronze. No need to make any rash decisions — try Honorable Mentions Aire MedSpa, Elite Medical Spa of Sarasota. Lakewood Ranch Med Spa, Blue Door Spa & Salon, FACEPOP Skin Clinic and Health, Beauty Integrative Center. and James Skin by Jamie Messenger. Ally Sager (on Honeyglow by Dee Aesthetics): Dee has made honeyglow such a wonderful experience. Kelsey Gilmartin (on Spa Hollywood, Brandy Parrott): Brandy transformed my skin! She is knowledgeable, creative and amazing at what she does. I recommend her to everyone. Asia Bebber (on West Coast Plastic Surgery, Mariah Malzan): Mariah is such an expert! She has single-handedly transformed my skin. Ana Alieksieienko (on Aire

MedSpa): Samantha has done a few facials for me and it was the best experience I have ever had. She explained each step and all the benefits of every product that she put on. It was very relaxing and I left with the most amazing glowing skin. I would definitely recommend going to her for your facials. Erica Trinkwalder (on Elite Medical Spa of Sarasota): Brandon is the best! He is so knowledgeable and has taken great care of my skin.

BEST MANICURE/PEDICURE

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

We could go on and on about the marvels of the manicure, but quite frankly, these spots nailed it. Who has the most talon-ted technicians? SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA - LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) polishes off the rest for Platinum while PAINT NAIL BAR top-coats into a Gold win. BLUE DOOR SPA & SALON has the manicure for your hands as the Silver winner, and SPA HOLLYWOOD is acry-lic above the rest, coming in Bronze. Hand over your hands to tried-and-true Honorable Mentions Intrepid Salon, Nails by Regina @ Salon Suites of Sarasota, Sirius Day Spa Salon & Med Spa - UTC, L.Spa and Ooh La Laa Nails. Annie Contos (on PAINT Nail Bar): Taylor & Veronica

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are the absolute best. Susan Mays (on Spa Hollywood): Attentive, skilled, and makes you feel relaxed and beautiful. Remembers what you like and suggests new comparable colors. Charlene Altenhain (on Intrepid Salon): Stephanie Valdez is an amazing technician. Aurilla Fusco (on Blue Door Spa & Salon): The Blue Door Spa and salon is my favorite place for so many reasons. The staff is knowledgeable and professional. They are always consistent with the quality of service but most of all it is family owned and they treat you like part of their family. From the time you come through the door until you leave there is a sense of peace and relaxation.

BEST EYEBROWS/EYELASHES

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa Lakewood Ranch (SR70)

No need to brows much further — we’ve only got eye-lashes for these spots that will have you a wink above the rest. SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA - LAKEWOOD RANCH (SR70) pulls off a Platinum victory while EYE CANDY LASH SRQ goes glam for Gold. SALTED BEAUTY CO. will mas-car-a-bout you at their Silver-winning location, and WAXING THE CITY takes a uni-bow for their Bronze win. Readers also waxed poetic about Honorable Mentions Blue Door Spa & Salon, Celestial Beauty, Lash Babe SRQ,

Intrepid Salon and Sirius Day Spa Salon & Med SpaUTC. Lali Calderon (on Eye Candy Lash SRQ): I have been addicted to lashes thanks to Beba she is the best at what she does and it’s been four years and counting. Don’t trust anybody else because of the fear of losing my natural lashes but at Eye Candy they take care of you. Prices are amazing and staff is so caring. Nancy Gallardo (on Salted Beauty Co.): Amanda has become my go-to for all things beauty-related. Her commitment to clients goes beyond providing a service; she creates an experience that leaves no detail overlooked. Whether it’s her expert brow services or her expanding range of wax treatments, Amanda’s talent and dedication shine through in every visit. One of the things that makes Salted Beauty Co stand out is its distinct Florida coastal vibe. It’s a reflection of Amanda’s deep-rooted love for the ocean and her commitment to infusing that passion into her brand. Stepping into her salon feels like a mini getaway, a serene escape where relaxation and rejuvenation are the order of the day. Laura Bloise (on Waxing the City): The most professional, experts, and cleanest place in the area. Adamary Cabrera (on Celestial Beauty): Love the quality and how passionate she is towards her work.

CONSUMER SERVICES

BEST CAR DEALERSHIP Sarasota Ford

Listen, she’s got an entire song dedicated to a getaway car—Ms. Swift must be passionate about what wheels she’s driving. When you need to channel your inner superstar and pick a car to come in clutch when escaping the paparazzi Sarasota has plenty to pick from. Vroom, vroom. Who has the hottest wheels and deals in town?

SARASOTA FORD parallel-parks first in the race while SUNCOAST PORSCHE gets a secondgear Gold. MERCEDES-BENZ OF SARASOTA shifts into Silver and COX CHEVROLET backs up perfectly into Bronze. Drive on up to Honorable Mentions Audi Sarasota, Sunset Chevrolet and Conley Buick GMC. Charles Kyle (Suncoast Porsche): Mark and Damian run the best service department. Iolanda Goodfellow (on MercedesBenz of Sarasota): Their service department and advisors are top notch. Their sales team is also excellent and they have great chocolate chip cookies for the waiting room.

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BEST CAR DETAIL Xcelleration Detailing

When the good ole’ driveway/hose combination doesn’t quite cut it, steer your wheels to these cleaning wizards. XCELLERATION DETAILING polishes off back-to-back Platinum wins, with SAGE AUTO STUDIOS gearing into Gold. DYLAN’S MOBILE DETAILING has rides slippin’ and slidin’ into Silver, and SUNCOAST AUTO SPA buffs and brushes their way to Bronze. Allyison Kissel (on Xcelleration Detailing): My vehicles always look amazing. Great attention to detail. Tony Fitzgerald (on Sage Auto Studios): Sage details your car to perfection with the proper chemicals so that your car is protected. They deliver a great service and do ceramic coating. What a great company. Alyssa Wagner(on Dylan’s Mobile Detailing): Dylan goes above and beyond for his clients. Excellent communication and gets the job done fast. Pays attention to every little detail, even one’s you wouldn’t typically think about. Carrie Lefebvre (on Dylan’s Mobile Detailing): I’ve been using Dylan for a year now on a regular basis. He never disappoints. He’s a perfectionist and will not leave until my car is perfect. Have recommended him to several friends and they are just as happy as I am.

BEST PRIVATE GOLF COURSE

Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club

A little birdie told us these courses were the best spots to putt your stuff. Now quit puttering around and head over to Platinum-winning THE OAKS CLUB. Next, LAKEWOOD RANCH GOLF AND COUNTRY CLUB knows how to bring the clubs and par-tee, getting the Gold, while THE RITZCARLTON MEMBERS GOLF CLUB takes the Silver by par. UNIVERSITY PARK COUNTRY CLUB is such a Bronze catch, it has voters at a loss fore words. Sarah Alexander (On The Oaks Club): Beautiful grounds, exceptional service and experience. Ray Niecestro (on Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club): Lakewood Ranch Golf and Country Club is a remarkable club. The amenities and restaurants are great, but the special events are what really put this club over the top. The July 4th party is a blast, Breakfast with Santa is incredibly well done and the upcoming Mother’s Day party is truly special. Add in that our daughter can receive lessons from one of the best children’s golf instructors in the country, Vanessa Fassler, and it’s easy to see the value in being a member here.

BEST LOCAL VETERINARIAN Animal Medical Clinic of Gulf Gate

Dr.

See Spot run. See Spot, sick? Don’t go barking up the wrong tree when cat-astrophe strikes— our readers fetched us the best of the best to help with everything from a purr-cussion to high pup pressure ANIMAL MEDICAL CLINIC OF GULF GATE, DR. KAMRYN KURTZ was the Platinum pick to order a cat-scan, while ANIMAL HEALTH CENTER growled their way to Gold. CLARK ROAD ANIMAL CLINIC spayed on our list, snaking their way to Silver, and DR. NINA’S ANIMAL HOSPITAL gathered a round of appaws for their Bronze win. Check out pawsome Honorable Mentions West Coast Veterinary Center, Vets2You and Cat Hospital of Sarasota. Steven Pajevic (on Clark Road Animal Clinic): Clark Road Animal Clinic is our go-to for our two puppies. Let’s just say I pass four other vet offices to get there. They are that amazing. Deborah Pruett (on Clark Road Animal Clinic): Dr. Thom of Clark Road Animal Clinic has been our family vet for decades. He, along with his staff, has always provided professional and compassionate care for all of our four legged family members. Jennifer Ourednik (on Clark Road Animal Clinic): Dr. Andre and all

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of the team at Clark Road Animal Clinic are really wonderful. They’re competent, warm and take wonderful care of our pets. Leigh Hughes (on Animal Health Center): The Animal Health Center is the best veterinary practice! We have been loyal clients of theirs for over 35 years. We love the two amazing veterinarians, the wonderful office staff, and of course Tredje, the office cat! I can’t imagine being anywhere else for my dogs’ veterinary needs.

BEST PET RESORT AND BOARDING

Beverly Hills Dog

While she’s on her record-breaking billion dollar Eras tour. Yes, billion. T-Swift’s three cats need somewhere to stay. While we imagine they might each have personal cat-sitters attending to them in their own private mini cat hotels—when us normal folk are looking for a place our pets can get the VIP treatment—these boarders and resorts are ready with rooms. When the dogs are away, the cats will play—and when their owners are away, you can find them at these purr-fessional boarders. Breaking meows BEVERLY HILLS DOG places Platinum while BAYSIDE PET RESORT grooms a groovy Gold. HAGAN’S PET RESORT helps you have a hoppy holiday and a Silver staycation, followed by FDF CANINE SERVICES, which gets a barking best Bronze. Lara D’Agostino (on Beverly Hills

Dog): They are extremely personable and lovely with both me and my dog. And affordable. Alyssa Schlegel (on Bayside Pet Resort): They are the only pet facility in the state that I would ever trust my pets with! Erika Lopatinsky (on Hagan’s Pet Resort): My dog has been going there for two years everyday to their daycare, he loves to go, the ladies take such good care of my furry baby. Best in town. Brenna Toussaint (on FDF Canine Services): I’ve been using FDF Canine Services for five years now for my five dogs. Over the years I’ve been reminded time and time again just what incredible people and service is provided to our family and our dogs every time they have a stay there. Whether it’s for a quick weekend or a month long, I know my pets are cared for and loved as though they were part of the family. I am eternally grateful for their compassion and humanity.

BEST MOVING COMPANY

Sunshine Movers of Sarasota

While your moving needs might not include pyrotechnics, laser lights, smoke machines, fire cannons and indoor fireworks—to name a few of the over-the-top theatrics involved in Ms. Swift’s Era tour—you still want your comfy couch and beloved arm-chair making it across town safe. If Taylor’s team can move a revolving stage from

Seattle to Singapore— these Sarasotans have got you covered for your domestic demands. Moving? They’ve got it in the bag. SUNSHINE MOVERS OF SARASOTA are professional stuff picker-uppers as our Platinum selection, while STRONGER MOVING AND DELIVERY SERVICE grabs the goods for Gold. PAMPERED MOVERS relocates to the Silver spot this year, next to LARKIN MOVING AND HANDLING, which snags the Bronze win to help you get boxed up. Jon Sullivan (on Sunshine Movers of Sarasota): Professional and cost effective. Victor Noguera (on Stronger Moving and Delivery Service): Stronger Moving and Delivering Services is so special to me because it’s a company that brings the meaning of family. When they work they do it so perfectly — they know what they are doing. It’s amazing but no other company works as hard and as incredible as Stronger Moving. Love you guys lots. Maryann Lawler (on Stronger Moving and Delivery Service): We are so grateful to have met the Stronger Moving and Delivery Service team many years ago. After personally using them for several moves, we realized what made them different— they care! They treat you like family, they have the utmost respect for your property, and they have the experience and skill to make your move easy. We have recommended them to everyone we know and they’ve received rave reviews.

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BEST LOCAL WEDDING CONSULTANT Bakers Ranch Wedding Venue

J.Lo—move over, there’s a new Wedding Planner in town. Actually, there are a few. Readers knew who to trust with their Love Story so that it would be evermore. While they might not be able to book Ms. Swift to serenade you down the aisle—she’s busy! with the highest grossing tour of all time— they know all the tricks to make sure your wedding is End Game BAKERS RANCH WEDDING VENUE takes the cake with a Platinum win, while PRECIOUS MOMENTS EVENTS - MICHELLE BORRERO vows to voters they’ll be end game, scoring a Gold place. SHY CHIC BOUTIQUE sashays down the aisle to Silver and BRIDES BY KELLY ANNE + CO toasts to the happiness of their Bronze place. Alex Garmaza (on Bakers Ranch Wedding Venue): Bakers Ranch’s wedding consultants excel in understanding and bringing to life a couple’s unique vision and style, while skillfully managing budget, organization, and vendor relationships; making the whole experience fun and stress-free. They stand out through their creativity, flexibility, excellent communication, and ability to remain calm and reassuring under pressure. Mykel Velez (on Precious Moments Events—Michelle Borrero): They went above and beyond for our wedding. Jamie Gillette (on Shy Chic Boutique): OMG—Cheyanne and her team made the most important (and expensive) day of my life, the best day of my life! I talked to a half

dozen wedding planners and none of them made me believe they care as much about my big day as Shy Chic and they delivered. My wedding at The Ringling was the stuff dreams are made of. It was stunning. If a single thing went wrong, I never knew about it because Cheyanne made me feel like I did not need to have a worry in the world. I am starting to cry just thinking about it.

BEST LIFE COACH EXCELLence Performance

“Put me in coach” takes on a different meaning when the game is life, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it to let someone else call the shots for a little while. These experts will take you from I Knew You Were Trouble to Out of the Woods. Even our golden girl has a team of talent behind her helping put the T in Taylor. Working to put together your life playbook and referee when you keep getting fouled, EXCELLENCE PERFORMANCE blows the whistle on Platinum. Gold winner HALLIE PEILET YOUNG scores so you can put yourself on a pedestal and cross the finish line to success. Jacob Kinsel (on EXCELLence Performance): It’s said that the sum of the parts is greater than the whole, and I think this is true of the team at EXCELLence Performance. The value added by their brand is attributed to the talent each team member brings to the table, and none more than Mitch Lomazov. Frankie Angotti (on Hallie Peilet Young): Hallie

is an amazing initiative/ life coach that has done wonders in helping me navigate anxiety and overthinking as well as provide amazing action items to make my life more well rounded.

BEST LOCAL MARINA

Marina Jack

Sail right in, these spots are knot too shabby. These ferry impressive marinas were tides ahead of their piers. MARINA JACK is im-port-tant to voters, landing the Platinum position, with CB’S SALTWATER OUTFITTERS cruising behind into Gold. Last but naut least, TWIN DOLPHIN MARINA is a sea-nic Silver.

BEST RETIREMENT COMMUNITY

Plymouth Harbor on Sarasota Bay

Retirement doesn’t mean tired. Once it’s all play and no work, the fun has just begun. PLYMOUTH HARBOR ON SARASOTA BAY is an old favorite, pulling Platinum, while 81 OAKS SENIOR LIVING lands Gold. BAY VILLAGE OF SARASOTA is having a sensational Silver, and JACARANDA TRACE is the Bronze for grandma and grandpa. Kathy Carr (on Jacaranda Trace): In addition to all the activities they do throughout the year, they do two themed annual events like Mardi Gras and Octoberfest that include the whole community, not just those members of the club house, but also residents

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in the adjourning buildings and villas who are not club members. They provided a meal with authentic food pertaining to the event, which was outstanding and live entertainment to much enjoyment of everyone! Jacaranda Trace likes the residents to enjoy themself and it shows!

PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

BEST LEGAL FIRM

Stalnaker Law, P.A.

“What? Like it’s hard?” Legally Blonde might have made Harvard look easy, but these lawyers know crime fighting takes a lot of paper-work. Courting the right votes, STALNAKER LAW, P.A. bangs a Platinum gavel, while readers judge LEGLER, MURPHY & BATTAGLIA guilty of Gold.

AFFORDABLE ATTORNEY GERLING LAW remains innocent while stealing Silver and WILLIAMS PARKER ATTORNEYS AT LAW can’t object to their Bronze win. We’ll keep this brief — check out Honorable Mentions Janella Leibovitz Legal Aid of Manasota, Blalock Walters, P.A., Najmy Thompson, Icard Merrill, The law office of Michael J. Belle and Goldman Babboni Fernandez Murphy & Walsh. Charity Alexander (on Stalnaker Law P.A.): Kyle has been an amazing attorney. He is compassionate, understanding and is always on

top of things. I had a very difficult divorce and he guided me through the whole process and didn’t let things drag on and on. I came away from the matter feeling like he was not only my attorney but I made a great friend. Adrian Lozano (on Stalnaker Law P.A.): #1 law firm in Florida! Kyle Stalnaker cares about his clients and his passion to help shows through his work. Hannah Nese (on Legler, Murphy & Battaglia): I have worked for many firms in my time as a paralegal, both local and far, and this firm is definitely the best! They take extra care of their clients and are genuinely tackling the emotions right alongside the individuals they fight for on a daily basis. Laura Engelking (on Affordable Attorney Gerling): I have had a fantastic experience being the newest employee. The attorneys really care about their clients and staff. Christine Clary (on Williams Parker Attorneys at Law): A great firm with attorneys for all your needs. Lisa Shinham (on Blalock Walter): Outstanding attorneys, specializing in a variety of essential areas. Telese Zuberer (on Icard Merrill): The group of attorneys are fully dedicated to their clients and are well educated. Buca Forrester (on The Law Office of Michael J. Belle): Michael and his office have been so great over the years. They are friendly and helpful. They don’t make you feel the same feelings as other legal offices. They feel more like friends, yet they are very professional.

Debra Burger (on Goldman Babboni Fernandez Murphy and Walsh): This law firm represents the injured, but they also represent the Sarasota area human resources and arts communities as well. They are deeply rooted in Sarasota County.

BEST CPA FIRM

Sterling Tax & Accounting

On a-count of my math skills—we’re gonna need some help. Here to assist voters in acting their wage and getting fis-i-cal are this year’s favored magic mathematicians. Otherwise known as —accountants. According to our calculations, STERLING TAX & ACCOUNTING excels to the Platinum spot, while MILES & THIRION grinds the numbers for Gold. MAULDIN & JENKINS CPAS & ADVISORS subtracts a Silver success while KERKERING BARBERIO helps you not break the bank with their Bronze business. Calculate some more wins with Honorable Mention Jim Gay, CPA. Erik Cecil (on Sterling Tax & Accounting): Great customer service and saved me significant money. Jennifer Hensley (on Miles & Thirion): Over and over again, Miles & Thirion come through and provide results. Not only have they saved me significant money on my personal and business returns, but they provide top-notch customer service. We are lucky to have such a firm in Sarasota. Dulce Aquino (on Kerkering Barberio): Cynthia

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Aquino has been amazing at what she does! Great person with an amazing will to serve others; this world needs more humans like her. Will Evers (on Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs & Advisors): At times, the challenges of working in public accounting can be a lot, but, at Mauldin & Jenkins, those challenges are met with an equal amount of teaching and support. For that reason, I am grateful to work alongside a group of people looking to invest in others. River Yang (on Mauldin & Jenkins CPAs & Advisors): Best Midsize accounting firm that is super people friendly and welcoming.

BEST FINANCIAL ADVISOR

Glenn Scharf of Scharf Group

Who puts the fun in funds? These best-in-show advisers are worth their benjamins. Tragically, grown-ups know that money isn’t secretly filled with chocolate—though you can still indulge over the holidays—so we turn to experts to capitalize our capital. GLENN SCHARF OF SCHARF GROUP gets Platinum for getting our paper together, while J&J WEALTH ADVISORS wins Gold—and hopefully, so do their advisees. A-quarter-ing to voters, MICHAEL CALAMARAS - NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL is Silver, and AK INVESTING, LLC bucks into Bronze. Count your cash with Honorable Mentions Full Spectrum Financial Group. Derek Ober-Northwestern Mutual,

and Marina Wealth Advisors and. Ashley Harris (on Glenn Scharf of Scharf Group): We have been working with Glenn for about a year and he has consistently been a wealth of knowledge for our family. Our financial literacy has advanced a great deal with Glenn’s support and he has helped us to make stronger financial decisions. It has been an empowering experience, gifting us with the ability to do more with what we have monetarily. Glenn has become our trusted go to person for any financial question or concern. Chelsea Christian (on J&J Wealth Advisors): I have the privilege of working with J & J Wealth Advisors, and I can’t speak highly enough of their professionalism and expertise. The team truly cares about their clients’ financial well-being, and their skill in managing money is fantastic. I highly recommend their services for anyone seeking financial guidance and support. Jose Sanchez (on Michael CalamarasNorthwestern Mutual): Michael genuinely cares for the person he represents and goes above and beyond to make sure you are comfortable in the decisions being made. Yekaterina Kulikova (on AK Investing LLC) Anton Kulikov has been my financial advisor for quite some time now and I am amazed with the work he is doing. Always on top of what’s going on on markets and treat each client individually. Anton is very valuable to use specially in the times where markets are volatile and he’s strategic work.

BEST CREDIT UNION

Suncoast Credit Union

Give them some credit—a little less structured than a bank but a little more secure than a piggy bank, the credit union is a happy medium. SUNCOAST CREDIT UNION finances Platinum while ACHIEVA CREDIT UNION gets our interest for Gold. USF FEDERAL CREDIT UNION is a savings Silver and NAVY FEDERAL CREDIT UNION has the balance for Bronze. Marge McCarthy (on Suncoast Credit Union): Whole family loves banking with Suncoast:) Celina Colon (on Suncoast Credit Union): Staff is always friendly, helpful, and informative. Joe Dunn (on USF Federal Credit Union): USF Credit Union is a terrific example of what quality customer service looks like. While many banks are closing or have staff that are not adequate to handle their customer base, USFFCU still provides good old-fashioned professional and courteous service to their customers!

BEST LOCAL INSURANCE AGENCY

Mary Dakkak of AutoLife Insurance Group

Readers are in-sure you’ll find what you’re looking for in these local insurance agencies. Emergency bills can have you feeling like a clown when you don’t have the backup you need. Thankfully, these winners provide a proverbial safety net to those of

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us not in the circus—we can count on them to be the ringleader when we are walking the tightrope line of payment. MARY DAKKAK OF AUTOLIFE INSURANCE GROUP trapezes into the top spot for Platinum with BOYD INSURANCE & INVESTMENTS getting Gold. DEES INSURANCE GROUP swings above the crowd in Silver and PURMORT & MARTIN INSURANCE AGENCY is a balancing-act Bronze. Pay a-tent-tion to these crowd pleasers: Honorable Mentions Atlas Insurance, Shepherd Insurance, Chris Newport Agency and Armistad Insurance. Paola Pomfret (on Dees): I have been with Dees Insurance for about three years now for home and auto and they are always helpful with sending me policy documents, processing payments, and questions on my policy. The team is very nice and helpful and I am very happy with them. Irene Felicetti (on Mary Dakkak Auto Life Insurance Group): Mary Dakkak is an amazing insurance agent. She is knowledgeable, professional, and compassionate. Mary understands my insurance needs and strives to obtain the insurance policies that best suit my individual needs. Josie Warwick (on Dees Insurance Group): They are a great group of people who always go above and beyond when it comes to finding you the right plan. Dan Miller (on Boyd Insurance & Investments): I have always been treated as I am the only client by Boyd Insurance. Outstanding customer service. Cara

Misiewicz (on Boyd Insurance & Investments): Family run for 50 years — great customer service. They really care about their community. Nancy Taylor (on Atlas Insurance): The best for home and auto insurance. They’ve served in Sarasota for over 20 years. Madison Siefert (on Shepherd Insurance): Shepherd Insurance is my favorite local insurance agency because they have the best work environment and culture. They truly care about their team and customers!

BEST MARKETING AGENCY

Grapevine Communications

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you’ve at least heard whispers of The Eras Tour. Selling out in a matter of minutes, this lady needs no help with her marketing, but for those not as instantly recognizable as Ms. Swift, these winners can catapult you to the top. No need to canvas the neighborhood. When you need a brush with creativity and your sketches keep coming out sketchy, these brainstorming sensations can pencil you in. Paint-stakingly Platinum is GRAPEVINE COMMUNICATIONS, and a handful of votes behind, ANGOTTI DESIGN turns your thoughts into galleryworthy Gold. From notebook to newsworthy, WORDSLINGER MARKETING & PR showcases Silver-worthy imagination. PURPLE FISH CREATIVE believes in a Bronze-winning vision for your

business. Think outside the box with Honorable Mentions AG Creative, Priority Marketing and Fingerprint Marketing. Erin Sharp (on Grapevine Communications): They have the best creative team I have ever come across! The talent there is outstanding. Lauren Igartua (on Angotti Design): Frankie Angotti took her amazing time designing the best business logo for my family company. She was detailed, organized, enjoyable and worked her magic to create a one of a kind look that my customers are talking about. Kim Livengood (on Wordslinger Marketing & PR): Sharon Kunkel, APR of Wordslinger Marketing is one of the most passionate and dedicated marketing and PR professionals I know. She truly cares about the success of her clients. As a solo practitioner she spends countless hours building relationships and understanding goals. She always exceeds expectations. On top of that, she is active in the Central West Coast Public Relations Association and is a killer drummer and singer for my favorite band, MonkeyFinger. Therese Colao (on Purple Fish Creative): Professional and very helpful when we worked with them. The knowledge they have was extremely helpful in our decisions with our marketing and website. Amber Donohoo (on AG Creative): They make our life easier.

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BEST NEW BUSINESS OF 2023

Boo’s Ice House & Dog Bar

Building a solid Reputation is harder than it looks — just ask the trailblazing Taylor Swift. From small shows to sold out stadiums her fandom was based on hard work, killer marketing and incredibly loyal fans. Will these newcomers get their old squad of Swifites? These few are new and they mean business. Who had readers flocking to their grand opening? BOO’S ICE HOUSE & DOG BAR pulled out all the stops for Platinum while FORKED AT WATERSIDE grabbed our attention for Gold. RYDERWILD saw success with their Silver debut and SOIREE SISTERS brought the Bronze at their first foray. Head over to Honorable Mentions Popping Party and Events, Level Up Fencing, Bare Wax Company and Monica’s Bridal Boutique & Alterations for some fresh fun. Bethany Newberry (on Boos Ice House & Dog Bar): It’s such a nice and relaxed atmosphere for me to bring my dog off leash. My dog has so much and the staff is always friendly. The food and drinks have always been great too. Lots of variety of events to attend there. Victoria Palacios (on Forked at Waterside): Always amazing when I first walk in. Regina Rux (on Popping Party and Events): Need deco for your next party? Party Popping Events has you covered! Everything

from props to balloon arches and decorations. I highly recommend them. Brandon Kulpeksa (on Level Up Fencing): I have never worked with a more honest company, they will go above and beyond to make it right. Allie James (on Bare Wax Company): Bailey goes above and beyond for her clients. Her passion is inspiring and makes every experience a dream. I can’t wait to continue working with her and watching her flourish.

TOP 10 BEST LOCAL PLACE TO WORK

Listen we all wish we could whistle while we work and while clocking in isn’t always a fairytale, these spots had the right tune to place in the top spot. Welcoming and supportive are two adjectives needed for a healthy work environment and these top contenders check both boxes. Recognizing this year’s TOP 10 PLACES TO WORK: LIBERTY SAVINGS BANK, NEAL COMMUNITIES, STEP UP SUNCOAST, PREFERRED SHORE REAL ESTATE, STERLING TAX & ACCOUNTING, CHILD PROTECTION CENTER, BLUE DOOR SPA & SALON, CENTER OF REVITALIZING PSYCHIATRY, THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT AND LIME AND ACE ELECTRIC Amy Bliesner (on Liberty Savings Bank): We still are the best small community bank in Sarasota. People love that we are available and care about their needs at a personal level. That

makes me feel great to come to work every day. Christine McKelvey (on Neal Communities): As an employee, they are a great company to work for. They also have wonderful philanthropic causes they donate to on a regular basis. Deanna Williams (on Step Up Suncoast): They value their employees by paying them fair wages and good benefits, being generous with their time off, and by treating them with respect. Kurt Kraus (on Preferred SHORE Real Estate): It’s a place of total team effort from the leadership, marketing to the clerical. Everything is done with class and professionalism. Erik Cecil (on Sterling Tax & Accounting): Great owner who values her employees as much as her clients. Ed Griese (on Child Protection Center): They have an incredible mission and an unbelievable team of committed professionals.

BEST CONTRACTOR, COMMERCIAL

Willis A. Smith Construction

Signed, sealed, delivered. The trifecta for a contract is best carried out by these voter-vetted crews. WILLIS A. SMITH CONSTRUCTION signs the deal for Platinum and NDC CONSTRUCTION COMPANY gets the ball rolling with a gorilla-gripbinding Gold. Warren Simonds (on Willis A Smith Construction): Most ethical and cost effective builders in SW Florida.

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BEST NETWORKING GROUP

SRQ Social

Mark Zuckerberg might have beat us to creating the social network, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more chit-chatting to be done. Networking is simply professional talking and our readers had quite a bit to say. SRQ SOCIAL talked the talk for Platinum while the CENTRAL WEST COAST CHAPTER OF THE FLORIDA PUBLIC RELATIONS ASSOCIATION gabbed their way to Gold. SWAT NETWORKING: SUCCESSFUL WOMEN ALIGNING TOGETHER spoke volumes with their Silver win and SARASOTA ROARING 20S boasted a big-voice Bronze. Catch up on more happenings with Honorable Mention BNI Core Connections. Alannah Friedman (on SRQ Social): Great way to make friends in SRQ and have fun. Beach volleyball on Monday nights are my favorite. Sharon Kunkel (on Central West Coast Chapter Florida Public Relations Association): In the years I’ve been involved with FPRA, I have upped my skills, networked with passionate, skilled and ethical peers, made wonderful friends, and earned numerous referrals. It is truly the Central best Coast chapter of FPRA. Angela Chang (on SWAT Networking: Successful Women Aligning Together): They are a local women networking group where you meet amazing

female business professionals and support each other. Lillie Baxter (on Sarasota Roaring 20s): The Sarasota Roaring 20s group is my favorite because it has allowed me to meet so many genuinely nice friends, experience a wide variety of Sarasota’s hidden gems–from O’Leary’s Tiki Bar to bar crawls around downtown Sarasota, to the Ringling Underground music event hosted in the museum courtyard at the Ringling Museum of Art. Michael Kostruba (on BNI Core Connections): Best group within the BNI network. Successful hybrid structure with zoom and in person meetings!

BEST BUSINESS COACH/CONSULTANT

Anna Chase, CalmCo

Business plan. Business partner. Business—fairy godmother? Perhaps not the professional term but these consultants wave their magic wand to turn your wishes into wonderment. ANNA CHASE, CALMCO pulls up her carriage to Platinum, while Gold winner EXCELLENCE PERFORMANCE makes sure you don’t turn into a pumpkin at midnight. KELSEA KOENREICH is an enchanted Silver and MARC SIMMS wins Bronze while working towards your happily ever after. Have a once upon a time with Honorable Mentions Brett Morris: Momentum Consulting and Titan Placement Group. Denise Holland (on EXCELLence Performance): Tony

and his team helped my team and many others. Tony is an inspiration, and his team is nothing but top notch. Janelle Monteiro (on Kelsea Kenoreich): Moving here from Boston last year I met Kelsea and her help has rebranded my business and mindset beyond what I could imagine. Destiny Dertien (on Titan Placement Group): Bridging the gap between healthcare companies and high quality candidates, Titan Placement Group drives out their mission of communication, collaboration and accountability on a daily basis. Erin Sharp (on Marc Simms): Marc Simms is one of my favorite people. He guides, teaches, uplifts, and sees people for who they are. His leadership training was invaluable and I learned things that I will implement for the rest of my life.

BEST VIDEOGRAPHER

Dane Gass, Grapevine Communications

Despite being the most charted star on the top-ten list, Taylor Swift knows—video killed the radio star. With endless easter eggs, personalized production and dedication to narrative story telling—her sometimes self-directed videos set the tone for what Taylor we’re getting that year. When you need to tell a story through video to showcase your new era—we’ve enlisted the help of these victorious videographers to capture your next big day.

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Lights, camera, action! DANE GASS, GRAPEVINE COMMUNICATIONS is the reel deal, taking Platinum, while INTERMEDIA PRODUCTIONS gets Gold. TEST FLIGHT STUDIOS is a scene-saving Silver and MAKSCHU VIDEO PRODUCTIONS wins Bronze for their fierce films. Get it all on tape with Honorable Mentions Bill Wagy and Sky’s the Limit Multimedia. D Michael (on Dane Gass-Grapevine Communications): The work that Dane produces is incredible. His attention to detail when it comes to lighting, cinematography, or editing is topnotch. He is a masterful visual storyteller with years of experience. Molly Taylor (on InterMedia Productions): Jim knows it all! He has been doing this for a long time. Is great at communicating and helping see your vision. Tammy Daum (on Test Flight Studios): Jacquelyn Daum with Test Flight Studios does beautiful work that gets results! She shot the video, edited, color corrected, added motion graphics, and more to create amazing video content for us that got us results. Cheryl Hammad (on MakSchu Video Productions): They are very active with the community and their videos reflect their best interests in and for the community.

PEOPLE &COMMUNITY

BEST BUSINESS LEADER

Karen Medford, Sirius Day Spa Salon & Med Spa

Heavy is the head that wears the crown—these leaders in business were royally rewarded by our readers.

KAREN MEDFORD, SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA puts a Platinum tiara atop her award-winning head, while KIM LIVENGOOD, THE BAZAAR accepts her Gold scepter. ALLISON IMRE, GRAPEVINE COMMUNICATIONS steps up to the Silver throne, and PHILIP TAVILL, CHILDREN FIRST is the king of business in Bronze. Bow down to Honorable Mentions Michael Friedman, Ace Electric; Steven Pajevic, Crystal Clean Green Cleaning; Tony Daum, EXCELLence Performance; Colleen Thayer of NAMI; and Sue Wise of Take Care Home Health. Judy Alexander (on Kim Livengood, The Bazaar): How she has accomplished so much by starting the Limelight District. It is amazing. John Summers (on Michael Friedman, Ace Electric): Michael has raised the bar for employee satisfaction and wages for employees in the electrical trade across Sarasota county. Anne Rollings (on Allison Imre, Grapevine Communications): It’s always a lot of fun to work with Allison! Sure, we take our business seriously and we work hard but

we always laugh. Allison’s understanding of how to lead a happy team and the importance of shining the spotlight on her team are among her talents I admire. Unfailingly curious, committed to our community and a student of her craft, Allison is truly deserving of recognition as a Best Of.

BEST NONPROFIT LEADER

Kristie Skoglund, The Florida Center for Early Childhood

These selfless safeguards of the community dedicate their days to uplifting the underdog. KRISTIE SKOGLUND, THE FLORIDA CENTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD is a nonprofit Platinum winner with JILL GASS, EASTERSEALS SOUTHWEST FLORIDA gallantly going for Gold. AMY YOUNT, STEP UP SUNCOAST steps up to help in Silver, and DOUG STALEY, CHILD PROTECTION CENTER is a brave Bronze. Turn your attention to these altruistic alternatives — Honorable Mentions

Sandra Frank, All Faiths Food Bank; Philip Tavill, Children First; Benie Quinn, Manatee Habitat for Humanity; Christin Lilly, SRQCommunity; ColleenThayer, NAMI; and Suncoast Blood Centers. Denise GrollyCase (on Kristie Skoglund, The Florida Center for Early Childhood): She leads The Florida Center with grace and compassion. Erin Sharp (on Jill Gass, Easterseals Southwest Florida): Jill is one of the best human beings I have

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ever met. She is smart, talented, kind, and has the biggest heart! I strive to be more like her. Linda Hedrick (on Amy Yount, Step Up Suncoast): Amy has brought so many positive changes to our organization since she became CEO. Sheila Miller (on Doug Staley, Child Protection Center): He has dedicated his life to protecting children. Bobbie Larsen (on Sandra Frank, All Faiths Food Bank): Sandra is an amazing leader.

BEST FAMILY-OWNED BUSINESS

Sirius Day Spa, Salon & Med Spa

We are family, get up everybody and—clock in? Family comes first for these local family-owned businesses that put their bloodlines to work. SIRIUS DAY SPA, SALON & MED SPA is a-parent-ly Platinum while THE BAZAAR ON APRICOT AND LIME has the genetics for Gold. ACE ELECTRIC is sibling the best in Silver and DECOCRETE SERVICES shows some brotherly love to Bronze. There’s more fun stock at these mom-and-pops—Honorable Mentions Center of Revitalizing Psychiatry, Blue Door Spa & Salon, Crystal Clean Green Cleaning, Pineapple Kitchen, All Ears Training, ATRIA Cafe, Town Square Sarasota-Senior Day Care and Take Care Home Health Care. Donna Wolfert (on The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime): This mother-daughter team of strong, dynamic women, founded and built this

amazing shopping space, giving a good backbone to this fun, upcoming neighborhood of SRQ. GO (on The Bazaar on Apricot & Lime): We love The Bazaar at Apricot & Lime for so many reasons. It’s a fun excursion for out of town guests where they can find unique to Sarasota items like artwork and jewelry. In addition, their kids’ programming is so much fun—from princess to fairy themed events, The Bazaar is a go to destination for our family. Chris Lisinski (on Ace Electric): This company is built on family, I will only use Ace Electric for all my Electrical needs. Great company. Asia Bebber (on DecoCrete Services): These people are not only incredible at their craft, they are so personable and take their time making your vision perfect. Frankie Angotti (on All Ears Training): Laska has done amazing work guiding me in training my hyper dog through positive reinforcement.Brian Fortin Carter (on Sirius Day Spa Salon & Med Spa): Sirius Day Spa meets so many people’s needs! From haircuts and color to keeping your facial age at bay with injections and fillers. The esthetic feel of the spa is extremely relaxing and serene. The best spa around! Thank you to the owners for creating a place for men and women to go!

BEST FAITH LEADER

Father Michael Cannon, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church

Whoever you pray to, these favorites in faith will help guide you to a higher light. FATHER MICHAEL CANNON, ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL CATHOLIC CHURCH has worshipers giving praise in Platinum. RANDY BEZET, BAYSIDE COMMUNITY CHURCH is giving thanks in Gold, and PASTOR LARRY BAUCOM, SUNCOAST COMMUNITY CHURCH saves Silver. Last, REV. BROCK H. LEACH, UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH OF SARASOTA brings people together for Bronze. Turn to Honorable Mention Pastor Kenneth Blyth, St. Armands Key Lutheran Church for your religious needs. Jon Sullivan (on Randy Bezet, Bayside Community Church): Randy is very exuberant, and full of the Lord. Well respected in our community. Paul Dragone (on Father Michael Cannon, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church): Fr. Michael is a kind, caring priest who knows and understands his parishioners. He is always available when needed and brings joy and contentment wherever he goes. If you could look up the definition of Parish Priest in the dictionary you would see a photo of Fr. Michael. Anna Hahn (on Father Michael Cannon, St Michael the Archangel Catholic Church): Father Michael is an incredible leader, man of God and friend. Spend any amount of time with him and he will inspire you, challenge you and it’ll change your life forever. TKD (on Pastor Larry Baucom): Pastor Larry Baucom not

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only has more degrees than a thermometer, he leads his teaching with love, just like Jesus. He has a great sense of humor, always welcoming with handshakes or hugs, great family values and can make you laugh and cry in the same service with his heart-felt stories. His teachings from the Bible are loving rather than suffering. He is backed by his amazing wife running the children’s ministry and his adult children in the most amazing worship band in Sarasota! Pastor Dr. Larry Baucom leads the best church for acceptance in all faiths with no judgment. Jennifer Elsholz (Pastor Larry Baucom): Pastor Larry is absolutely amazing! He makes everyone feel at home while spreading the love of Jesus and it’s an honor knowing him and being part of Suncoast Community Church. Ernie Smith (on Pastor Kenneth Blyth, St Armands Key Lutheran Church): His preaching and teaching both touch my heart on a regular basis. His messages about our loving God are inspirational.

BEST LOCAL CHAMBER

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce

No secrets about what’s the best chamber in town. Readers picked THE GREATER SARASOTA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE for Platinum and MANATEE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE for Gold.

LAKEWOOD RANCH BUSINESS ALLIANCE sings

a Silver tune and VENICE AREA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE branches into Bronze. Don’t count out Honorable Mentions North Port Area Chamber of Commerce and Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce. Lisa Wood (on The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce): The Sarasota Chamber is dedicated to fostering career and business growth while advocating for local businesses and their workforce in Tallahassee. Chris Raymond (on Manatee Chamber of Commerce): Very great organization to be a part of.

BEST LUXURY APARTMENT BUILDING CitySide Apartments

While most of us may not have as expansive a real estate portfolio as Ms. Swift, living like poproyalty is only a lease away with these aristocratworthy apartments. CITYSIDE APARTMENTS polishes off a Platinum win while THE BERGAMOT APARTMENTS ON 780 sits pretty in Gold. ARCOS is simply Silver decadence and THE DISTRICT AT ROSEMARY brings a Bronze brilliance to your balcony. Call Honorable Mention The DeSota home for a taste of the finer things in life. Alex Stango (on CitySide Apartments): Comfortable apartment. Responsive staff. Many enjoyable events, catered Saturday breakfast, exercise classes, yoga. Monthly Book Club. Privately owned and the owner lives nearby. Anthony Fobes (on Bergamot Apartments

on 780): The Bergamot Apartments on 780 is an amazing place to call home. The amenities, location, and management staff are top tier. The grounds are well kept and staff is responsive to any and all concerns and requests. Jennifer Torres (on ARCOS): The team at Arcos makes it feel like home. They are professionally managed by The Bainbridge Companies, and I have had a great experience overall. Erin Sharp (on The District at Rosemary Apartments) The Property Manager, Nicki, is one of the best in the business.

BEST NEW APARTMENT BUILDING CitySide Apartments

An apartment might be small in size, but it’s a big decision to decide where to hunker down for a year. One bathroom? Two? How much closet space? A gym? A pool? A parking spot?! So many factors go into this fateful decision, but voters felt comfortable settling down in these winning spots. CITYSIDE APARTMENTS plays a Platinum role in the home while ARCOS is an attention-grabbing Gold. LYRA SARASOTA serves up some Silver sun rooms and 50 PARAMOUNT builds up to Bronze. Check out Honorable Mention The Crossing at Palm Aire. Ellen Richless (on CitySide Apartments): CitySide is the best luxury apartment building for so many reasons. Not only is the location just a stroll away from many up-and-coming restaurants, The Bay

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Park and downtown Sarasota, but the community itself is home to specially curated weekly events. From lively BBQs to serene stargazing sessions, there’s always something exciting happening. Plus, with pet-friendly seminars and adventures like kayaking, everyone in the family is included. Jaclyn Priebe (on ARCOS): ARCOS is redefining luxury! From their gorgeous sauna to meticulously maintained grounds, they exceed every expectation. The leasing staff are friendly and ready to help, and maintenance is professional and punctual. Couldn’t love this place more.

BEST NEW HOME COMMUNITY

Windward, Neal Communities

The ultimate dream is a neighborhood with all your nearest and dearest lining one road. Though perhaps you can’t get all your besties on the same avenue—these communities create a cul-de-sac worth cultivating friendships on. WINDWARD BY NEAL COMMUNITIES has the amenities for Platinum, with NORTH RIVER RANCH two garages down in Gold. SKYE RANCH is one street away, winning Silver, and ARTISTRY SARASOTA | KOLTER HOMES doorbells a Bronze. Pick up your keys to Honorable Mention Promenade Estates on Palmer Ranch for a fantastic first home. Mike Thomas (on Windward by Neal Communities): Residents enjoy a vibrant community, excellent schools,

and proximity to shopping and entertainment, making Windward the ultimate choice for those seeking a harmonious blend of convenience, comfort, and luxury in Lakewood Ranch. Antonio Matta (on North River Ranch): Lovely everything! The ambience, landscaping, activities. It’s just non-stop fun; a great place to raise a family and enjoy the process. Erin Gould (on Skye Ranch): I have to say, we have the best members! The common goal to build community runs through Skye Ranch, and with so much development still to come this is just the beginning.

BEST PUBLIC SPACE Celery Fields

Home might be where the heart is, but every once and while, we need to spread our wings and spend some time in the great outdoors. CELERY FIELDS celebrates a Platinum park while THE BAY PARK gives voters a Gold spot to sunbathe. SARASOTA NATIONAL CEMETERY provides the shade for Silver solitude. Last up, BRADENTON RIVERWALK bends and twists towards a Bronze win. Alison Cox (on The Bay Park): A beautiful space for families to enjoy time together. The sunset yoga is amazing. We enjoy the walking paths as well as the green space. Dianne Kopczynski (on Sarasota National Cemetery): The Sarasota National Cemetery is such a beautiful peaceful place to reflect on your loved one and/ or all those who served our country. It gives you

a great sense of pride knowing there are so many great women and men who served! Such a great place to attend the various events and services they have too. If you haven’t been, you must go visit. Rodney Sims (on Sarasota National Cemetery): A peaceful resting place for our heroes. I am moved every time I attend a service there. Catherine Clouse Ferrer (on The Bradenton Riverwalk): The Bradenton Riverwalk is loved by everyone because it was created that way. From quiet nooks to vibrant play places, nature, waterfront, and sunsets, the Riverwalk has something for everyone, every mood, and every day.

BEST ELECTED SARASOTA OFFICIAL

Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board

Readers checked yes on their ballot for these officially awesome Sarasota officials. KAREN ROSE, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD proves Platinum in her position, with TOM EDWARDS, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD in Gold. GREG STEUBE, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE swears in at Silver and JENNIFER AHEARN-KOCH, CITY OF SARASOTA COMMISSIONER brings her A game to Bronze. Give some credit to Honorable Mentions

Kyle Battie, City of Sarasota Mayor; United States Representative Vern Buchanan; Florida Representative Fiona McFarland; Bridget Ziegler,

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former Sarasota County School Board Member; and Mike Moran, Sarasota County Commissioner. Laine Perez (on Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board): Karen has high moral and ethical values like I do. Dan Miller (on Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board): Karen Rose has the most experience with Sarasota’s families. Jennifer Moore (on Fiona McFarland, Florida State Representative): Fiona McFarland reached out to me at a time that I was going through something very difficult and she helped me greatly. I will forever be grateful to her and I think she does a wonderful job for our community.

BEST MANATEE ELECTED OFFICIAL

Tommy Gregory, Florida House of Representatives

Voters voted twice for these winners — once for officially elected official and twice as nice for a spot on our BOSRQ list. TOMMY GREGORY, FLORIDA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES pulls off a Platinum win, with GEORGE KRUSE, MANATEE COUNTY COMMISSION going for Gold. LISA GONZALEZ MOORE, BRADENTON CITY COUNCIL is a winner in Silver, and CARLOS BERUFF bests the ballot for Bronze. Voters also voiced their respect for Honorable Mention Amanda Ballard, Manatee County Commission. R. Davis (on Carlos Beruff ): Love him or hate him, he has figured out how to

game the system to his clear advantage. Jessica K. (on George Kruse, Manatee County): George Kruse responds to everyone in Manatee County. He shows up in the community when cameras aren’t present. He always strives to do what is best for the greater good and not just a select few. He respects his role as commissioner and will listen to any of his constituents. He is a hard worker and is trying to make a difference in our community. He will continue to fight to bring a voice back to the people. Cheri Murray (on Lisa Gonzales Moore, Bradenton City): Lisa Gonzalez Moore is a dedicated mother, attorney, and Bradenton City Council Member! What is the old saying that says if you want a job done give it to a busy person? That is Lisa.

BEST LOCAL POLITICIAN

Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board

No matter what side of the aisle you sit on, these politicians are doing something right in the name of democracy. First up is KAREN ROSE, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD pushing voters toward a Platinum future. TOM EDWARDS, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD goes in a Gold direction and GREG STEUBE, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE sees a Silver lining in the hardest of decisions. VERN BUCHANAN, UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE is a red, white and Bronze contender this year. Tip your hat to Honorable

Mentions Jennifer Ahearn-Koch, City of Sarasota Commissioner; and Bridget Ziegler, Sarasota County School Board. Scott Reid (on Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board): Supports the rights of parents. Debra Burger (on Greg Steube, United States Representative): I believe he fights for our community. Uzi Baram (on Tom Edwards, Sarasota County School): Tom Edwards seems to be everywhere across Sarasota County working to ensure students are getting quality education; a problem-solver, Tom offers a moderate, caring voice on the School Board. When I talk with Tom, he radiates concern for the well-being of all students, faculty, and staff across our schools.

BEST SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER

Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board

Keeping schools in tip-top shape is a lot harder than learning your ABCs. These winners showed excellence in keeping education on track. KAREN ROSE, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD takes Platinum, while TOM EDWARDS, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD takes home Gold. BRIDGET ZIEGLER, FORMER SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD gets the best grades for Bronze. Marisa Marino (on Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board): Karin Rose Great judgment, asset to our community. Dan Miller (on Karen Rose, Sarasota County School Board): Was my son’s

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principal and helped him through 6th grade. Pamela Norwood (on Tom Edwards, Sarasota County School Board): He is a remarkably brave and resilient human who is fighting for all of us.

BEST BEACHSIDE COMMUNITIES

BEST ANNA MARIA RESTAURANT

Beach House Waterfront Restaurant

Burgers taste better on the beach — it’s science. For your next ocean-front omelet or sun-gazing salad, head over to these wave-watch-worthy haunts.

BEACH HOUSE WATERFRONT RESTAURANT will have you sipping your crab-ernet in a Platinum position to see the sunset, while BEACH BISTRO gills for Gold. Two favorites surfed into Silver—THE UGLY GROUPER and ANNA MARIA OYSTER BARCORTEZ, while THE WATERFRONT RESTAURANT

bikini’d a Bronze. Head over to Honorable Mentions Sandbar Seafood & Spirits and Blue Marlin Seafood Restaurant for a sun kiss. Robert Collins (on Beach Bistro): Gorgeous setting, elegant atmosphere, delicious and artfully presented cuisine. Debra Burger (on The Waterfront Restaurant): Such a quaint restaurant with a beautiful view of Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway. Cara Taaffe (on Anna Marie Oyster Bar-Cortez): Anna Maria

Oyster Bar Cortez is our favorite restaurant. We ate there a couple times. The food is amazing, friendly, helpful staff and the atmosphere is inviting. When our family visits from out of town the first thing my grandchildren ask is if they can go to the Oyster Bar for the penny an inch meals. I recommend that everyone head to Anna Maria Oyster Bar. They will be hooked. Christin Lilly (on Beach House Waterfront Restaurant): Great food with unbeatable views. Great place to dine and take in beachside living/dining at its finest. Claire Coats (on Beach House): Has a creative drink menu, beautiful oceanfront views with plenty of seating, and great service! Plus their new chef makes delicious food using lots of local ingredients. Can’t go wrong with Beach House.

BEST ANNA MARIA BOUTIQUE

Ginny & Jane E’s Cafe and Coastal Store Shop ‘til you drop at these bustling boutiques. GINNY & JANE E’S CAFE AND COASTAL STORE has the prints for Platinum, while WEST COAST SURF SHOP’S gifts are a glittering Gold. PINEAPPLE MARKETPLACE saves the best deals for you in Silver, and you can have double the Bronze-winning fun at COVE AND SALT and SCISSORS SALON SPA. Fill your shopping bag at Honorable Mentions Nomad Collection and Anna Maria Island Inn. Jade Eller (on Salt and Scissors Salon): Amazing salon

for everything from hair, nails, to skin and an even greater group of girls who work there. Kelli Williams (on West Coast Surf Shop): A great beach shop that is worth the trip from Sarasota.

BEST SIESTA KEY RESTAURANT

Miguel’s Restaurant

The key to the perfect siesta? A delicious meal right before your nap. These salty-air sensations have the menu to fill you up before you lie down — in the sand, of course. MIGUEL’S RESTAURANT plates up a Platinum success while SIESTA KEY SUMMER HOUSE STEAK AND SEAFOOD grills and sautees their way to Gold. OPHELIA’S ON THE BAY serves up some Silver-winning savory fare, and SUN GARDEN CAFÉ broils their best to Bronze. Enjoy your seaside sips at Honorable Mentions The Cottage, Siesta Key Oyster Bar, Daiquiri Deck, Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar and MVP—My Village Pub. Marlene Walters (on Miguel’s Restaurant): Great service coupled with consistent terrific entrees and wine selections equals a special evening. Deborah Pruett (on Miguel’s Restaurant): Miguel’s is our favorite restaurant in Sarasota. We especially enjoy the early bird menu and we love inviting friends and family to experience the French cuisine at Miguel’s. Gabe, Dan and the rest of the staff have always provided excellent service with attention to detail. We also love that it is a generational

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family business. Chris Campbell (on Miguel’s Restaurant): Miguel’s has the best early bird dinner specials in the county. A true hidden gem on Siesta Key. Shirley Bradicich (on Sun Garden Cafe): Great atmosphere and service. Giannina Larson (on Siesta Key Summer House Steak and Seafood): The SummerHouse is fabulous! The best food in town. The chef is innovative! He has great quality food selection. The wine Sommelier and liquor cart are excellent! In the SummerHouse you always feel welcome! Their waitstaff is professional, knowledgeable and kind.

BEST SIESTA KEY BOUTIQUE

Coral & Reef Boutique

What could be more bou-tiful than a day dedicated to bopping around your favorite boutiques? Siesta Key is positively popping with places to peruse. Readers were raving about these shopping hot spots. CORAL & REEF BOUTIQUE proudly displays their Platinum win, while MARMALADE SURFSIDE gift-grabs Gold. SILVER CITY SARASOTA sells a Silver set and FOXY LADY bargains for Bronze. Fill your cart at Honorable Mention Casa Del Sol Boutique. Terri Beach (on Coral & Reef Boutique): Coral & Reef has a very welcoming and relaxing feel to it. Its owner, Christin Lilly, makes browsing through her shop “fun!” I can shop at my own

leisure and find lots of fun, fashionable and unique styles. It’s always a pleasurable experience. Pam Pirogowicz (on Silver City Sarasota): Silver City Sarasota combined genuine caring along with superb craftsmanship and reasonable pricing to help me choose the perfect settings for a special necklace for my daughter and one for myself. I am especially grateful for the extra time Monica spent to make sure we were satisfied. They are the best. Kerry Miller (on Marmalade Surfside): The cutest clothes for day time, night time and every season. And adorable home items at great prices.

BEST ST. ARMANDS RESTAURANT Columbia Restaurant

The best part of a shopping day is the lunch break. St. Armands—a neverending swirl of shops and stops— has countless courtyards to put down your bags and grab a bite. First up, COLUMBIA RESTAURANT has been pulling customers off the sidewalk for years as our Platinum pick. Next, CAFÉ L’EUROPE sits in Gold and SHORE ST. ARMANDS CIRCLE celebrates Silver. CRAB & FIN brings us to the Bronze win. Have a nosh at Honorable Mention Blu Kouzina. Sam King (on Columbia Restaurant): The best Cuban food in SRQ. Debra Burger (on Columbia Restaurant): A must go every year. Iolanda Goodfellow (on Shore St Armands): Love their fish tacos and truffle fries. Also love the patio dining.

BEST ST. ARMANDS BOUTIQUE

Shore St. Armands Circle

One, two, shopping spree! St. Armands is always in fashion when it comes to a day waging a war against your wallet. First up, SHORE ST. ARMANDS CIRCLE is a shoe-in for Platinum with CARILOHA SARASOTA going to gown for Gold. TONI’S TOO BOUTIQUE skirts into Silver and FOXY LADY buttons up a Bronze win. Hit the register at Honorable Mention Influence Style. Sam King (on Shore St. Armands): Love the assortment in the place. Gianna Norton (on Cariloha Sarasota): Owner gives back to community, i.e. toy drives for Christmas, along with participating in many other community events. Ryan Sullivan (on Cariloha Sarasota): Amazing staff ! Always helpful. The most amazing clothes! T.S. (on Toni’s Too Boutique): Three generations of women own and operate Toni’s Too! for over 40 years!

BEST LONGBOAT KEY RESTAURANT Euphemia Haye Restaurant

It’s not a long shot to see why these restaurants are key to a great day. EUPHEMIA HAYE RESTAURANT perches in Platinum with DRY DOCK WATERFRONT GRILL gazing into Gold. SHORE LONGBOAT KEY sits back and relaxes

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in their Silver win, and MAR VISTA DOCKSIDE RESTAURANT doesn’t have to beach too far for Bronze. Chow down at Honorable Mentions Chart House, Whitney’s and Maison Blanche Debra Burger (on Dry Dock Waterfront Grill): Their food is fabulous. Pretty intercoastal waterway view too. Jon Sullivan (on Shore Longboat Key): Great ambiance on the water with excellent food. Grace Owens (on Mar Vista Dockside Restaurant): The best way to end a day on the boat is lunch or dinner at Mar Vista. Iolanda Goodfellow (on Maison Blanche): Elegant, understated decor with excellent French food.

BEST LONGBOAT KEY BOUTIQUE

Toni’s Too

You don’t have to wait long to find the perfect spot to shop on this key. TONI’S TOO is a Platinum success, followed by FOXY LADY, which gets your closet cute in Gold.

BEST BEACHSIDE CONDO

The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Sarasota

Wake up and smell the—ocean? The ultimate daydream may be sitting on your balcony, enjoying a fresh cup of coffee, watching the sunrise over a sparkling, serene sea. Swoon. Such a dream can be possible with these outstanding oceanfront condos. THE RITZ-CARLTON RESIDENCES,

SARASOTA is a Platinum winner, with PEPPERTREE BAY VACATION RENTALS greeting new residents in Gold. Mabel Miller (on Peppertree Bay Vacation Rentals): Hands down the best community I’ve ever stayed at on Siesta. Every amenity you could want and super friendly staff. Cheryl Santelli (on Peppertree Bay Vacation Rentals): This community has every amenity that you could think of. Gulf to Bay, from sunsets and crystal sand, to the bay pier and fishing. 2 pools, 2 club houses, tennis, pickle ball, fitness center, on site rentals, sales and security. What else could you want?! It’s our favorite spot on the key.

BEST BEACHSIDE HOTEL

Lido Beach Resort

For a temporary taste of heaven, head over to these beautiful beachfront hotels, where your toes in the sand are only an elevator ride away. Go on a romantic getaway or get your girls and turn up 1989 while sipping pina coladas by the pool. A Taylor Swift excuse for excess let her be the soundtrack to your stay. You’ll watch the sunset looking out over the water to say Today Was a Fairytale. LIDO BEACH RESORT picks up a Platinum for their piece of the playa, while ZOTA BEACH RESORT sea-gulls into Gold. HYATT RESIDENCE CLUB SARASOTA has got the surf and turf for Silver, and GULF SURF RESORT MOTEL sand-buckets a Bronze. Jon Sillicvan(on

Lido Beach Resort): Great tiki bar and ambiance. Jon Sillicvan(on Lido Beach Resort): Great tiki bar and ambiance. Regina Rux (on Gulf Surf Resort Motel): Quaint, comfortable, clean, laid back and a private beach.

srq magazine_ APR24 live local | 147 SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAG ZI E T O P10LOCALPLACESTOWORK SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MA A NE GOLD WINNER 2024 2024 2024 2024 SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MA A NE SILVER WINNER SRQ local SRQ AZ NE BRONZE WINNER 2024 Bestof SRQ local S Q M GAZ NE BRONZE WINNER 2024 Bestof SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ AZ NE GOLD WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of RQ Z NE GOLD WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of S Q ZI E T O P10LOCALPLACESTOWORK
Join us for another year of celebrating the people, places and experiences of our hometown. NOMINATIONS FOR THE 2025 COMPETITION OPEN THIS OCTOBER! SRQ local SRQ MAGAZ NE BRONZE WINNER 2024 Bestof

BEST BEACHSIDE BRUNCH

Toasted Mango Cafe, Siesta Key Bacon is better beachside and no one can tell us different. When you need your eggs served up with a side of sunshine, these spots are the place for you. TOASTED MANGO CAFE, SIESTA KEY pours Platinum syrup onto their waffles, while DRY DOCK WATERFRONT GRILL griddles a Goldworthy hashbrown. POP’S SUNSET GRILL slings Silver-winning pancakes and SHORE LONGBOAT KEY butters up their muffins with Bronze. Wake up with these delicious Honorable Mentions: Sun Garden Cafe, Whitney’s, Marina Jack, Wicked Cantina and Sandbar. SRQ

Thank you to our readers for sharing their love for local in this year’s Best of SRQ Local Readers Competition. We are a stronger local community beacuse of you!

Join us on Friday, April 12, 2024 at Aloft Sarasota to cheer in the new Best of SRQ Local winners with bites and imbibes!

2024 BEST OF SRQ LOCAL COMPETITION METHODOLOGY

Every year, we invite our astute readers to first nominate locally- owned businesses and individuals they believe are worthy of Best Of recognition in restaurants, dining, food, home and design, philanthropy, real estate, consumer services, professional services, community-wide leadership, health, beauty and wellness. In January, we invite our readers, local businesses and the community at large to join us in celebrating our Live Local. Love Local Mission by voting for their favorites, culminating in the buzzworthy special“Best of SRQ Local” awards feature published in the April 2024 edition of SRQ Magazine. Only locally-owned establishments may be nominated for the “Best of SRQ Local” Readers’ Competition, e.g. independent restaurants and locally-owned companies and boutiques. A select number of locally-owned franchises are also considered. Limited to one ballot per person. Readers are asked to register their ballot with their name, address and email. Ballots submitted without an email verification cannot be counted. Incomplete ballots with too few votes overall or those with votes only in two to three categories will not be accepted. Thank you to the SRQ TEAM for passionately curating this year’s Best of SRQ Local Readers experience!

148 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ PLATINUM WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE GOLD WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE SILVER WINNER SRQ local 2024 Best of SRQ MAGAZINE~ SILVER WINNER
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giving coast

CARING FOR THE COMMUNITY

With five branches throughout Sarasota, Venice and Bradenton, Liberty Savings Bank is committed to serving the local community. Barbie Heit

FOR THE PAST 39 YEARS–LONGER THAN ANY OTHER BANK BRAND– Liberty Savings Bank has been proudly serving the people of Sarasota and Manatee counties. With five locations all along the Tamiami Trail in Bradenton, Sarasota and Venice, Liberty provides a simple combination of small-town service and advanced technology, delivering value and satisfaction with everything they do. Although it is a local bank, customers are able to access their cash at over 50,000 free ATMs with locations nationally in the Allpoint network.

STORIES FROM OUR PHILANTHROPIC COMMUNITY
150 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN.
a
This page: Danielle Bachar and Lauren Fuller are two employees helping to make Liberty Savings Bank
Corporate Good Hero.

Liberty Savings Bank’s branches are run by Lauren Fuller, Nevenka Kovcic, Danielle Bachar, Lisa Toppin and Sandy Perrine–all members of the community. All of the bank’s employees are on a first-name basis with customers, helping them financially by offering mortgages, home equity lines of credit, personal loans, checking accounts, savings accounts and CDs.

Because they live and work in the area, Liberty’s employees know that helping the community is the right thing to do, and it makes them all stronger on a personal and professional level. As a result, the philanthropic force is integral to the entire team. Last year alone, staff members spent an estimated 400 hours volunteering in the region and donated over $21,000 to 18 different local charities. Each branch is viewed as a community hub, and each manager is asked to choose an event to host and run with all employees involved. Examples of events include a food drive benefiting the Food Bank of Manatee at the Bradenton location, a “Seniors vs. Crime” scam prevention education event at the Sarasota location, a school supplies drive for Garden Elementary School at the North

Venice location, an International Day of Charity pizza party benefiting SPARCC at the South Sarasota location, and a BLT (Breakfast, Learn and Talk) on senior living at the South Venice location. In addition, many volunteers also support the local chapters of Habitat for Humanity.

On the Habitat for Humanity’s Family Service Committee, Liberty Savings Bank managers get involved from the very beginning with every applicant. “We assess each person’s level of need, willingness to partner with Habitat and their ability to repay a mortgage through an affordable payment plan,” says Bachar.

“When we attended the Manatee Habitat Women Build Holiday Tea party in December, we got to hear firsthand the story of a future Habitat homeowner,” recalls Fuller. “She shared how her Habitat home will mean she can, for the first time, have a home to be with her family for the holidays–something she has dreamed of for a long time.”

In the greatest times of community need, Liberty Savings Bank is there to lend a hand. “Hurricane Ian damaged parts of the historic Venice Theatre,” shares Kovcic. “We are working hard to keep the reconstruction

funded and on track.” Liberty Savings Bank’s philanthropic efforts extend to people from all walks of life—from schoolage children to senior citizens.

Fuller enjoyed volunteering for the Big Bank Theory, a financial literacy program presented to all twelfth graders in Manatee County schools, because she could tell that the students really enjoyed it. “The students at Garden Elementary School really appreciated all the pens, pencils, paper, notebooks, backpacks and more, collected at our school supply drive,” adds Toppin.

“Our BLT event was also really fun,” says Perrine. “Laura Gray, one of our loan advisers, did a great job leading the discussion of the things to consider when you are thinking about a transition to senior living.”

The people at Liberty Savings Bank believe in the power of community. Their dedicated team is proud to work and volunteer in Sarasota-Manatee, striving to make it a better place to live. Together, they invest their time and effort into creating positive change and contributing to the well-being of the people in this vibrant community. SRQ Liberty Savings Bank was honored as one of SRQ Magazine’s Corporate Good Heroes in March 2023.

PHOTOGRAPHY BY
WYATT KOSTYGAN.

last flight

PUTTIN’ ON THE RITZ

IN THIS INQUISITIVE Q&A SERIES, WE GET PERSONAL WITH MARK SHERWIN, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota. In his new role, Sherwin oversees operations for all facets of the resort, including its award-winning dining venues, exclusive beach club and golf club, and newly renovated spa, ensuring the highest standards of service and hospitality. His strategic vision and innovative approach further elevate the hotel’s reputation as a pinnacle of luxury and sophistication. Sit back and pretend it’s a spa day as you learn about the newest GM at the Ritz.

A recent day in your life.

This resort has been the social and gathering center of the community for over 20 years, so it is a privilege to be able to build upon that legacy by creating unique experiences for our guests, clients and locals. It all starts with our ladies and gentlemen, and it is impressive to have so many long-tenured employees at this resort in an industry that is known for high turnover. The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota has many moving parts, and it is not just providing leadership to a resort that includes room accommodations, food and beverage, retail shops, spa, and all of the support functions that support those departments (engineering, human resources, finance, sales and marketing, etc.). As part of our entire operation, we also manage the Ritz-Carlton Residences, a Ritz-Carlton Membership Club, and both a private beach club and a golf club. Plenty to keep me busy.

Your favorite virtue is. . . Integrity. My mother always said, “If you tell the truth, you will never have to remember what you said.”

When you were a kid you dreamed of . . . I wanted to be a sports agent like Jerry Maguire. But law school wasn’t in the cards for me.

Your guilty pleasure . . .

I have a wicked sweet tooth. As I walk the resort, a trip to our pastry kitchen is always part of my journey

My last supper would include . . . Lasagna and a New York strip steak.

Words you use too often . . . I often talk about the Three-Legged Stool, which is our balanced scorecard approach to running our business. I also use words like awesome, amazing and outstanding to encourage and inspire our team.

Your favorite music artists . . . Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. Can you tell I am from the Northeast?

With two more hours in the day, I would . . . spend it with my family. I already don’t spend enough time with them!

If not yourself, who would you be? A professional golfer.

What was the funniest thing you remember doing as a kid? I grew up on Long Island and we had sand dunes behind our house. I remember “sledding” down the sand dunes on garbage can lids.

Would you rather have a rewind button or a pause button in your life? I have loved each phase of my life, but maybe I’d rewind so I can correct some of the lessons learned along the way.

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? Warren Buffett, Bono and Sharon Stone.

What is the scariest thing you’ve ever done? Probably ziplining across the Pecos River in Santa Fe (100 feet of freefall, then ziplining across the river). That got my blood pressure up!

Your favorite food of the moment is . . . I love steamers/soft-shell clams. I was introduced to them while growing up on Long Island and enjoyed them during my seven years living in Boston.

If you had to wear a T-shirt with one word on it, what would it be? Inspiration.

If you could snap your fingers and appear somewhere else, where would you be?

My wife and I love to travel — Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East. One place I have never been is the Polynesian Islands, so Fiji or Bali.

Which cartoon character best represents your personal philosophy? Maybe a Marvel character. You can achieve whatever you set out to achieve. And I love the saying that if you love your job, you will never work a day in your life! I guess that’s why I am still in the hospitality business after all these years. SRQ

152 | srq magazine_ APR24 live local ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS LEVERETT.
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