SRQMAR24 | Living Lakewood Spring 2024

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Spring 2024

Below, left to right: CEO Andy Guz of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center and Lucky Pelican Bistro’s clam chowder.



Continuing a Legacy of Quality

A Mecca of Joy

This year marks a special milestone for Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. In 2024, the hospital will celebrate 20 years of delivering compassionate and quality care to Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding communities. As we continue to devote our efforts to building upon a legacy of exceptional care, I’m honored to share some of our most recent recognitions, including our designation as a U.S. News and World Report “High Performing Hospital for Knee Replacement” (2023-2024) and for the second consecutive year, being named on Newsweek’s “Best Maternity Hospitals” list. Another distinguished recognition is for our freestanding, full-service ER. The ER at Fruitville has been named a Human Experience Guardian of Excellence Award® winner for the second year, by Press Ganey. This recognition places the ER in the top 5% of healthcare providers for delivering a quality patient experience. Other notable accomplishments include achieving the American Heart Association® Mission: Lifeline®–STEMI Receiving Center—Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award (2023), for our demonstrated commitment to high-quality cardiovascular care. We’re also excited to begin our $120 million expansion project on the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center campus, adding more inpatient beds and capacity for advanced services. As we move into the new year, know that we remain committed to expanding our services to meet the growing needs of this community. As always, Let’s Do Well Together. Physicians are on the medical staff of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center, but, with limited exceptions, are independent practitioners who are not employees or agents of Lakewood Ranch Medical Center. The hospital shall not be liable for actions or treatments provided by physicians. For language assistance, disability accommodations and the nondiscrimination notice, visit our website.

In every edition of Living Lakewood we offer a celebratory exploration of life. This month we bring to the fore ideas on how to stay healthy and strong in body, as well as a smorgasbord of dining locations showing that the cuisine at the Ranch includes some of the best “surf” in the state. We share conversations with Lakewood Ranch physical therapist professionals who share how physical therapy and rehabilitation offer them unique rewards—seeing patients strengthen and improve is an irreplaceable joy. Lakewood Ranch has become a mecca for Floridians looking for the finest in local seafood nosh. We hope you can make it through the whole article before running out the door and driving to one of these delectable destinations. We encourage you to head to your local Lakewood eateries and order whatever is “most fresh” on the menu— your taste buds will thank you. Enjoy!




SRQ MEDIA | Executive Publisher

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FEATURES Sensational Seafood, 8 In a state where seafood reigns supreme, Florida offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to dining options. With so many top-notch seafood restaurants dotting the coastline, choosing where to begin your culinary journey can be a delicious dilemma. Three restaurants in the Lakewood Ranch area are serving up fresh catches and inventive dishes, making them must-visit spots for diners who want to savor their seafood.

Rehab Redefined, 16 In Lakewood Ranch, physical therapy practices are changing the game when it comes to rehabilitation. In a community that’s constantly on the move, physical therapy offices can serve as healing spaces or as places where you can optimize your body’s performance. The owners of three Lakewood Ranch physical therapy clinics share insights into their practices and their own unique approaches.

Above: Justin Silver of Total Therapy Florida works with a physical therapy client, photography by Wes Roberts. Cover: Lucky Pelican Bistro’s grouper sandwich, image courtesy of Lucky Pelican Bistro.


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Below, left to right: The seafood dishes at Speaks Clam Bar have their roots in Italian immigrant cuisine in New York in the early 20th century; banana peppers and lemon add a twist to crispy calamari fritti accompanied by Speaks’ 3 signature sauces, and, Linguini Vongole is the perfect showcase for tender and tasty clams.


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Sensational Seafood Three must-try seafood restaurants



Speaks Clam Bar In New York, Italian clam bars have a rich and flavorful history dating back to the early 1900s. Brothers Mark and Jeff Levey grew up enjoying the unique seafood experience provided by clam bars like Vincent’s and Randazzo’s. “As kids growing up on Long Island, we would dress up and go into New York City on Sundays to visit these clam bars,” Mark recalls. While Florida is packed with amazing seafood restaurants, the brothers found themselves missing the Italian clam bar experience. Those memories and flavors inspired Jeff and his sister-in-law Natalia to open the first Speaks Clam Bar in Lakewood Ranch in 2017. Sauces were a big part of the New York clam bar experience so it was imperative to include those in the menu.“Every New York clam bar had its one unique flair, but they shared one delicious commonality: a trio of marinara sauces. One was sweet, one medium, and the other was hot,” says Natalia. “The kick in the sauces comes from infusing hot pepper into the olive oil.” But while they stuck with traditional elements like the three sauces, they also put their own spin on the clam bar experience. “We kicked off with the essential clam bar setup, but then, in New York-style creativity, we pondered, ‘Why not jazz it up with fresh pasta?’” Natalia says. “This was a culinary twist not typically found in the traditional New York clam bars but we figured it would add a dash of flair to have the pasta crafted right before your eyes. A little showmanship to accompany the meal.” The menu at Speaks Clam Bar is seafood-centric but diverse. Diners looking for a casual nosh to accompany a craft cocktail can enjoy crispy Shrimp Arancini or Calamari Fritti accompanied by those signature sauces. If you’re in the mood for more elevated fare, the Lobster and Shrimp Pappardelle with baby arugula and cherry tomatoes in a white wine cream sauce has become a customer favorite. Jeff and Natalia have gone on to open a second Speaks Clam Bar on St. Armand’s Circle, but the original Lakewood Ranch location holds a special place in their hearts. “We’re absolutely over the moon with the warm embrace we’ve received from the Lakewood Ranch community,” says Natalia. Speaks Clam Bar, 8764 State Road 70 E., Lakewood Ranch, 941-232-7646, srq magazine_ LIVING LAKEWOOD SPRING 2024 live local | 9


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Below, clockwise: Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound carries simple seafood fare like a grilled grouper sandwich and classic shrimp cocktail made with fresh Gulf shrimp; owner Jim Pierzga with two of the live lobsters from the 2,400 gallon tank on-site.

Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound Owned by Jim and Kelly Pierzga, Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound is a charming yet unassuming seafood haven. Originally hailing from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the couple were drawn to the warm weather and community feel of Lakewood Ranch. Since acquiring the restaurant from its previous owner in 2018, the pair has preserved its roots while adding their own unique flair. “We originally thought having a restaurant would be sort of a soft launch into retirement,” remembers Jim with a laugh. “Now we’re pushing an 80-hour week most weeks. But we love our job.” Much of the restaurant’s success comes from its versatility. In addition to serving lunch and dinner six days a week, the Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound features a counter where customers can purchase the same fresh seafood that comprises much of their menu. The Pierzgas have expanded the indoor seating area and added outdoor seating in the form of picnic tables shaded by umbrellas. Customers can dine in, pick up prepared food to go, get delivery within a five-mile radius, or get fresh seafood to cook at home. There truly is something for everyone.

Since its inception, the Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound has drawn inspiration from the lobster pounds that abound throughout New England in both menu and ambiance. A 2,400 gallon lobster tank provides an authentic New England lobster pound experience, allowing guests to pick out their own crustaceans to take home or have prepared on site. The food is served on checkered paper that is again reminiscent of the New England experience. “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere,” Jim says. “Nothing stuffy.” The Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound has developed a reputation of serving some of the best lobster rolls in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. There are two classic styles of lobster roll, and the restaurant serves them both. The New England-Style Lobster Roll features chunks of fresh-picked lobster meat tossed with mayonnaise and served on a toasted split-top roll. The Connecticut-Style Lobster Roll is served in the same type of bun, but in this preparation the lobster meat is poached in warm butter and drizzled with lemon. It’s hard to say which one is better, so diners may want to order one of each and decide for themselves. Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound, 8740 State Road 70 E., Lakewood Ranch, 941-755-3474,

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This page, clockwise: Shallot mayo and Maine lobster come together in this take on a chic

New England lobster roll; visit the seafood counter at Lucky Pelican Bistro; Lucky Pelican Bistro puts their own international twist on traditional seafood dishes.

Lucky Pelican Bistro The Lucky Pelican Bistro has been a Lakewood Ranch fixture since it first opened in 2007, but the restaurant has really stepped up its game since a change of ownership in 2022. While the new owner resides out of state, the eatery has flourished under the capable management of Petra Demko. “Our dishes compare to the ones served at white tablecloth restaurants, but we don’t do the white tablecloth,” Demko explains. This approach has resulted in upscale seafood fare served in an unfussy space with a fusion of coastal rustic charm. Like the Lakewood Ranch Lobster Pound, there is a strong New England seafood influence at the Lucky Pelican Bistro. But the dynamic menu offers a lot of variation. Traditional New England seafood dishes like the Fried Oyster Plate coexist with more internationallystyled entrees like Bacon-Wrapped Swordfish Marsala and Fried Flounder Poblano. In addition to the standard menu, the kitchen manager whips up daily specials based on what ingredients are fresh and in season. The generous portion sizes promote a communal and shareable dining atmosphere.

“When I go in with my husband we always share a meal because I can’t eat everything,” Demko laughs. One of the most unique aspects of Lucky Pelican Bistro is the diner’s ability to customize their meal. All of the fish dishes are exchangeable. This means that if an entree looks good to you but you’re not a fan of the fish that comes with it, you can swap it out for a fish you prefer. The Sake Glazed Sea Bass entree can easily become a Sake Glazed Salmon entree. While the cuisine at Lucky Pelican Bistro is always evolving, the staff has remained consistent. Demko says most of the staff has been there since the restaurant opened despite three ownership changes in the last seventeen years. “That makes a big difference. People come to the restaurants for the food, but they also come in for the service,” says Demko. “If one aspect doesn’t work, then they won’t come in anymore. You need both. You need the good food and you need the good people.” LL Lucky Pelican Bistro, 6239 Lake Osprey Dr., Sarasota, 941-907-0589.

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Rehab Redefined

PHYSICAL THERAPY IS RESHAPING THE ROAD TO RECOVERY. In Lakewood Ranch, physical therapy practices are changing the game when it comes to rehabilitation. In a community that’s constantly on the move, physical therapy offices can serve as healing spaces or as places where you can optimize your body’s performance. In addition to helping patients recover after injury or surgery, some practices are also exploring a more proactive approach to PT. The owners of three Lakewood Ranch physical therapy clinics share insights into their practices and their own unique approaches.

Above: At Achieve Physical Therapy, Sean McCue has been helping his clients “achieve” their goals since 2007.

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Achieve Physical Therapy Physical therapy is more than just a career: it’s a calling. Sean McCue, MPT has been answering that call in one way or another since he was a teenager. McCue had always been involved in sports throughout high school and college. This passion would lead to him studying sports sciences at the University of Florida where he earned a master’s degree in exercise physiology. After graduating, McCue spent the next few years working at Sarasota Memorial Hospital as a cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation technician. While he was there, he realized there was more he wanted to learn. “I started working with some physical therapists in sports medicine and I felt like it was something I could really get involved with,” McCue says. He decided to go back to school and earned a second master’s degree, this time in physical therapy, from Nova Southeastern University.

Below, left to right: Dr. Yousef Asaad helps his patients regain their confidence; Justin Stiver enjoys getting his clients back into the game.

“I liked working in the hospital but I always wanted to do outpatient therapy,” McCue says. “So I worked in outpatient for a while, and then we started this clinic in 2007.” By “we”, McCue means him and his wife Ana Maria McCue, who is a degreed physical therapist assistant. The two run the practice with the help of an office manager who has been with them since the beginning. “Achieve is a small, family-owned business,” McCue explains. “We treat people one-onone, so we’re not one of the big practices that have tons of therapists. We stay small and that’s the way we like it.” While some physical therapy practices specialize in particular issues, McCue describes Achieve as a more generalized practice. Offering services like neurological gait and balance training, the majority of the group’s patients come in for orthopedic conditions including athletic and sports injuries, joint pain, and pre and post-surgical rehab.

“We use electrical stimulation and manual therapies like massage, but we’re definitely exercise-based and functionality-based,” says McCue. “It’s about education and training people to manage their symptoms and get back to doing whatever activities they want to do. Everyone here plays golf or tennis or pickleball, so their concern isn’t just how they’ll walk again. They want to get back to those activities.” Achieve Physical Therapy, 10910 State Road 70 E. Suite #104, Lakewood Ranch, 941-727-2667,

Confident Physical Therapy It wasn’t that long ago that you needed to leave your home to buy new clothes, shop for groceries or enjoy a meal from a local restaurant. Now you can get just about anything you could ever want delivered right to your door. Thanks to forward-thinking professionals like Dr. Yousef Asaad, that even includes physical therapy. Asaad is the

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founder of Confident Physical Therapy, a fully mobile practice serving Lakewood Ranch and Sarasota. Like Sean McCue, Asaad comes from an athletic background. He grew up playing sports like volleyball and soccer, and saw a lot of injuries that happen on the field. But he also saw how his fellow athletes were able to return to their daily lives and resume playing sports after going through physical therapy. “The recovery of athletes post-surgery and post-trauma was the most amazing point of interest to me,” Asaad says. “Just being able to get people back on the street.” After earning a doctorate in 2018, Asaad worked as an inpatient physical therapist at Sarasota Memorial. During that time he also started his own practice part-time seeing clients privately in their own home. Asaad found he really enjoyed the autonomy and


freedom he had as a business owner, and in 2020 he decided to dedicate himself to his practice full-time. Rather than open a physical location, Asaad elected to keep Confident PT as a mobile-only practice. “I noticed in the elderly population that it was often very taxing for them to drive to a clinic, wait in the clinic, receive treatment and then return home. It took two to three hours out of their day and they were usually very fatigued,” Asaad says. “That’s where I really thought, ‘Why not bring the service to them?’” While Confident PT specializes in sports medicine, post-surgical care and geriatric treatment, the practice offers a comprehensive menu of physical therapy services including balance retraining, gait training, pain management, vertigo assessment and vestibular treatments. Dr. Asaad utilizes a

variety of modalities depending on what each patient needs. In addition to prescribed exercises to improve strength and mobility, Asaad offers manual therapy including massage and passive stretching. The practice also uses class IV laser therapy, a non-invasive treatment that reduces inflammation, relieves pain, and promotes healing. Asaad also encourages clients to see him for preventive care. “Some people use us on a wellness basis,” he says. “We have an 85-year old client who has been using our services for two years. She doesn’t have a main deficit but she wants to make sure she stays strong. We’re doing weight training with her in her gym and we do a lot of balance training. Her osteoporosis has actually improved since she started with us.” Confident Physical Therapy, 941-210-0748,

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TOTAL THERAPY FLORIDA For many physical therapists, a background in sports factors into their choice of career. Justin Stiver is no exception. “I had played baseball through college and I was drafted to play with the Houston Astros,” Stiver says. “I played for a short time in the minor leagues and then I got injured and needed physical therapy. I was 26 years old or so, but in baseball years I was kind of turning into an old man. I began thinking about what I wanted to do and I started talking to the physical therapist I was working with. I thought,‘Wow, that’s something that has to do with injuries, with working out, all of the things that I kind of knew already. And it seems like they love it and are having fun, so let’s do that.’” Stiver had majored in business during his time in college, so he went back to school to take the health sciences courses that are prerequisites for a physical therapy degree. He graduated from physical therapy school at the age of 31


and took a job at a practice in Osprey. In 2018, he purchased the practice from the original owners and went on to open another location in his hometown of Englewood later that year. Today, his practice Total Therapy Florida has seven physical locations, including one in Lakewood Ranch. Stiver also offers mobile physical therapy services, uniquely positioning Total Therapy Florida as a hybrid practice. “Operating under Medicare Part B, we can either treat a patient in a clinic or in their own home,” Stiver explains. “So we can tailor our plan of care to best fit the patient’s lifestyle and schedule. We can send a therapist to their home twice a week and then we can have them come to an outpatient clinic once a week. There are a lot of unknowns on how fast a person is going to recover after orthopedic surgery, like what medications they’ll be on or whether they’ll be able to drive. With mobile, we can send a therapist to their home and they can transition to a clinic whenever they’re ready.”

While patients can visit Total Therapy Florida for help with things like balance training and fall prevention, the practice specializes in orthopedics. In addition to post-surgical and non-surgical rehabilitation, Total Therapy Florida also offers pre-surgical physical therapy. “The slang term for it is ‘prehab’. It’s something that isn’t a new concept, but it hasn’t worked its way into the normal workflow of an orthopedic referral,” Stiver explains. “There’s a lot of research to support that strength and function going into surgery has a big impact on outcome after surgery. We work closely with a lot of orthopedic surgeons and now it’s pretty typical for most referrals that we get that they’ll send them to us three or four weeks before surgery. They know that we’ll set up between one and three prehab visits to get patients moving and stretching and strengthening before surgery.” LL Total Therapy Florida, 10940 State Road 70 E. Suite #101, Lakewood Ranch, 941867-3737,

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