Recipe for Success, 8
In 2010, the Caragiulos opened another local favorite, Owen’s Fish Camp, in Sarasota’s Burns Court neighborhood. Now, Owen’s Fish Camp has found new life in Lakewood Ranch with the opening of its second location.
Pickleball Arrives, 12
Pickleball, a sport that is fun, social and somewhat addictive, is also a fast-growing business with no signs of slowing down. Longtime commercial real estate and business entrepreneurs Brian and Valerie McCarthy along with business partner Matthew Gordon have seized the opportunity to be part of the sport’s explosion by investing in 15 indoor private pickleball clubs in Florida, the first being The Pickleball Club right here in Lakewood Ranch.
Expanding Our Footprint
As Lakewood Ranch continues to grow, so too does the need for quality convenient medical care. That is why we are happy to announce Lakewood Ranch Medical Center will be undergoing a $120 million expansion project on its campus starting later this year. This will be Phase 1 of a multi-phase plan for facility expansion to take place during the next several years. Construction of a new five story, 170,000 sq. ft. tower will add 60 patient beds and allow for growth of key ancillary departments ranging from Pharmacy and Laboratory to Education, Food and Nutrition Services and Pre-Admission Testing. The tower will also include shell space to add two more floors for an additional 60 patient beds and expand other areas as the hospital continues to grow its services and capabilities.We are happy to have been the hospital of choice for many Lakewood Ranch residents for nearly 20 years and look forward to meeting the growing healthcare needs of this great community for many more. Thank you for choosing Lakewood Ranch Medical Center – let’s do well together.
The First Line, 16
In what started out as a way to help his son play hockey, Bradley Gustafson inadvertently created the most popular youth sports league in the region.
See and Be Seen, 20
The Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place is another way that residents of Lakewood Ranch can build a sense of community.
Foodie Fun, 22
Food has a remarkable way of uniting individuals and fostering a sense of community and connection. For over two decades, foodies have flocked to the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest to enjoy culinary delights and curated wine pairings.
This page: The new Owen’s Fish Camp is located at 6516 University Parkway in Lakewood Ranch. The restaurant is currently open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 4pm to 9pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 4pm to 10pm. To check out their menu, visit owensfishcamp.comWRITTEN BY KATE WIGHT | PHOTOGRAPHY BY WYATT KOSTYGAN
Above: Shrimp and Grits with tasso ham, charred pearl onions, wild mushrooms, smoky tomato jus, the new Lakewood Ranch location of local favorite, Owen’s Fish Camp, sports rustic and cozy decor.
Owen’s Fish Camp
IF SARASOTA IS CONSIDERED A FOODIE TOWN, THEN THE CARAGIULOS ARE AMONG ITS FOUNDING FAMILIES. SINCE 1989, THE FAMILY HAS OPENED SEVERAL SUCCESSFUL EATERIES. THIS INCLUDES THE EPONYMOUS CARAGIULO’S ITALIAN AMERICAN RESTAURANT AND THE MODERN OYSTER BAR, VERONICA’S FISH AND OYSTER, BOTH LOCATED IN DOWNTOWN SARASOTA. IN 2010, THE CARAGIULOS OPENED ANOTHER LOCAL FAVORITE, OWEN’S FISH CAMP, IN SARASOTA’S BURNS COURT NEIGHBORHOOD. NOW, OWEN’S FISH CAMP HAS FOUND NEW LIFE IN LAKEWOOD RANCH WITH THE OPENING OF ITS SECOND LOCATION.
This page: Root Beer Ribs, all day smoked with crispy garlic, carolina peach BBQ sauce, slivered scallions. Pimento Cheese- Chive Drop Biscuits with bread & butter pickle butter. Butter Baked Scamp with parsley smashed spuds, garlicky green beans and brown butter hollandaise.
“I would describe the original Owen’s Fish Camp as just that–original,” says Co-owner Paul Caragiulo. “It tells a story of Sarasota from an earlier time.” A lot of the charm of the original Owen’s Fish Camp came from the property itself. The intimate eatery is located in a historic cottage built in 1923 under the shade of an old banyan tree. Reproducing the charming, retro vibe of the flagship location was no easy feat.
“It took us about five years to find an appropriate location for a second Owen’s Fish Camp,” Caragiulo says. “We were fortunate enough to make contact with a developer who knew and understood our concept and saw that replication was not the goal.”
Instead, the mission was to capture the culture of the original Owen’s Fish Camp in its new environment. While the building itself is new, the thoughtfully chosen decor infuses the space with plenty of character and personality. A crystal chandelier is adorned with antique fishing lures and preserved blowfish, creating a whimsical effect that strikes the perfect balance between rustic and upscale. The cozy back porch is decorated with fishing poles and buoys, giving it the feel of a lake house retreat, while the upside-down canoes suspended from the ceiling of the main dining room continue the theme.
Owen’s Fish Camp is best-known for the classic Southern staples on its menu. For a starter, try the Fried Green Tomato Salad with Country Ham crisps. Goat cheese and buttermilk dressing enhance the natural tanginess of the lightly breaded tomatoes. For an entree, you can’t go wrong with Shrimp and Grits. Spicy smoked sausage adds a little kick to the creamy grits. Owen’s Warm Succotash is probably their most iconic side dish. The flavorful blend of fresh corn, garbanzo beans and dried cranberries packs a powerful punch. The Lakewood Ranch location is substantially larger than the downtown venue. At 190 seats, it can accommodate twice as many diners as the Burns Court location. The kitchen is also bigger, providing an opportunity for the Owen’s team to expand their menu even further.
“The Lakewood Ranch space is larger and has greater capabilities, so we do offer a few different items that we do not offer downtown,” Caragiulo teases. “However at this stage, what we’re offering is always evolving.” The menu isn’t the only thing that’s evolving. While the restaurant is open for business, there is one more area that has yet to be unveiled. In September, they’ll be opening the long-anticipated backyard area where people can listen to live music and nosh on snacks while they wait for a table to open up. LL
PICKLEBALL, A SPORT THAT IS FUN, SOCIAL AND SOMEWHAT ADDICTIVE, is also a fastgrowing business with no signs of slowing down. Longtime commercial real estate and business entrepreneurs Brian and Valerie McCarthy along with business partner Matthew Gordon have seized the opportunity to be part of the sport’s explosion by investing $180 million for 15 indoor private pickleball clubs in Florida, the first being The Pickleball Club right here in Lakewood Ranch which opened on May 5th of this year. The team currently has seven other clubs under development around the state in Port St Lucie, Bonita Springs, Fort Myers, Venice, Pinellas Park, the Villages and Wellington, with plans for Orlando and Bradenton.
With 12 indoor courts, The Pickleball Club offers perfect playing conditions no matter what the weather is like outside.
SINCE OPENING, THE RESPONSE
IN LAKEWOOD RANCH has been overwhelmingly positive. “We opened with 400 members and are already approaching 550 members and we expect a waiting list when the snowbirds return this year,” shares Brian. “We even had one couple who were so concerned they might miss out so they joined in July even though they won’t return to Sarasota until December.” Originally from Michigan, Brian McCarthy has had a 30 year military career in the Navy, achieving the rank of Rear Admiral. With an MBA from Harvard and a career as a commercial real estate developer, he’s very familiar with turning large properties into valuable business. Valerie McCarthy, President and Chief Operating Officer (and Brian’s wife) has a Master’s degree in exercise physiology and has been in the health industry her entire life. A former executive director for the YMCA, she oversees the member experience at the Club. Matt Gordon, a New
York attorney with a passion for investment banking is the chief financial officer who has helped the McCarthy’s develop a strong business plan. And new to the leadership team this fall is General Manager Scott Brynski, former general manager of The Bird Key Yacht Club, who has recently returned to Sarasota from Buffalo, New York.
The biggest appeal of the Pickleball Club is that it offers the opportunity to play in perfect conditions all year round. The courts are custom built exclusively for pickleball with a cushioned court surface on all 12 indoor courts, two covered outdoor courts and two bocce courts. Club amenities include Pickles Café, Dinks Pro Shop, locker rooms with showers, plenty of seating and a multifunctional observation area.
“Our Pickles Café and Dinks Pro Shop have already outpaced expectations and the demand for instruction has increased dramatically,” shares Brian. “Our Pickleball
Academy and Summer Youth programs were at capacity and Pickleball Club University for adults has been a phenomenal success. Our staff of six instructors has been very busy meeting the demand.”
This summer, the Club hosted a Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) certification course and a Play for A Cause tournament in which a portion of proceeds was donated to the Play for Life Foundation, supporting youth, veterans and first responders. Upcoming events include a two-day intermediate camp December 8-9 for 3.0 – 4.5 players.
The Lakewood Ranch Pickleball Club is a member-only, privately-owned, for-profit sports club. Investment opportunities are still available. Visit ThePickleballClub.com to learn more. LL
The Pickleball Club, 1195 Sarasota Center Blvd, Sarasota. 941-271-4444, https://www.tpclwr.us/
The First Line
AT FIRST GLANCE, HOCKEY AND THE GULF COAST DON’T SEEM TO MIX. Sure, there’s the Tampa Bay Lightning, a dominant NHL franchise, but the sun and skates are not two words that typically go together. However, there is something that only those who have played the game can attest to–they know just how easy hockey is to fall in love with–and how hard it can be to leave behind. That’s why in 2021, Bradley Gustafson, a lifelong hockey player, started the Manatee Ball Hockey League, with the hopes of giving his then four-yearold son an entryway into the game he loves so much. “My son was just obsessed with hockey and wanted to play it with other kids,” says Gustafson. “We had him in the Learn to Skate program, but after a couple of years he wasn’t really taking to it and still just really wanted to play hockey. I figured he couldn’t be the only kid that wanted to play hockey but wasn’t the best on skates yet–that was the driving factor behind creating the program as a whole.”
AND SO THE PROCESS OF CREATING A YOUTH BALL HOCKEY LEAGUE BEGAN.
Gustafson already had a location–he had been frequenting the Lightning Made ball hockey rink in Lakewood Ranch with his son for some time. The next step was figuring out, well, how to actually start a youth hockey league from the ground up. “When I made the decision to move forward and try to start up a league for the community with the goal of bringing a high quality youth sports organization at an entry level price, we reached out to the officials at Manatee County who said we’d be happy to rent you a rink/facility but we don’t actually have the staff to run a youth sports league,” says Gustafson. “I reached out to the Tampa Bay Lightning–who have been invaluable throughout this whole process–and said if I pay for and design our logos and put the work in to get this going would you guys be able to support and they said yes. They’ve always provided free sticks and balls to all the new kids that sign up for our program which kind of offsets the expense of some of the things that get the league going.”
Just like that, the Manatee Ball Hockey League was off to the races. Well, sort of. A hiccup with their social media made promoting the league more difficult than expected, causing registration numbers for the first year to be a little lower than Gustafson hoped for, at just 36 kids and three coaches. “The first season couldn’t have happened without the support of my wife,” says Gustafson. “We were looking for around 50 kids and ended up a fair amount lower than that. I wasn’t sure if I should just give all the parents a refund and just scrap the program, but she encouraged me to push forward.”
In retrospect, however, Gustafson admits that the limited number of participants may have been a good thing–with just three coaches and 100 kids, it would have been overwhelming. Starting small allowed Gustafson to grow the league organically, allowing plenty of space for both parents and their children alike. With the limited number of participants, Gustafson was able to create a happy medium for the league: he split participants into two age groups, nine and under and 10 and over, with 18 players a piece. To keep teams balanced kids were
split up into different teams every week, one wearing the signature MBHL jersey with the logo on the front and their name and number on the back and the other team wearing reversible pinnies. “The parents loved the idea of having their kids play with all of the other kids, there’s no animosity in the league because of it and kids got to experience different coaching styles as well.”
In MBHL’s second season, the program doubled its registration numbers from 36 participants to 60 and created a new 15 and under division. “After our second season, we added a summer program where we did a weeknight clinic and went from 60 to 80 to 100, eventually adding an adult league as well. We also have a Little Manatee’s division for 3-5 year olds who have never held a hockey stick before, which is a 45 minute skills and drills clinic that we do first thing in the morning,” says Gustafson. “We originally had two divisions with two age groups and now we have five divisions, each with their own teams, over 140 players and 12 to 18 coaches a season.”
The secret to MBHL’s explosive growth? It’s just plain fun–for both children and adults. Ball hockey provides an easy, low-cost entryway into the sport of hockey, trading the expensive cost of equipment, skates and ice time for shin guards, a facemask and a will-do attitude. While hockey may not seem like a natural fit on the Gulf Coast, where sports like baseball and soccer can be played year-round, it turns out that it was just about giving people a chance to see how fun the sport really is. “The goal of the program is to help grow the sport of hockey. Since we’ve started the program, we’ve put over 40 kids in skates, many of which would’ve never considered playing ice hockey before,” says Gustafson. “I have had parents come up to me at the end of the season that tell me this has changed their lives, that they’re hockey families now. Hockey is unfortunately an expensive sport to play and it’s hard to get your foot in the door with it. To my knowledge, we’re the most costeffective sports league in the area and we just want to keep bringing the community together.” LL
See and Be Seen
IT WAS EARLY IN 2022 AND LAKEWOOD RANCH HAD A PROBLEM. The burgeoning community seemed to have it all–beautiful houses, weekly farmer’s markets and waterfront properties. Lakewood Ranch even held the mantle for best-selling, master-planned, multi-generational community in the country. But there was something missing. “We didn’t have a permanent theater space in Lakewood Ranch,” says Nicole Hackel, events and resident experience manager at Lakewood Ranch. “We really wanted to figure out a way to bring performing arts here so that residents could enjoy it outside.” Thus began “Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place,” a performance and fine arts series occurring once a month in Lakewood Ranch’s Waterside Place Pavilion. After a couple of months spent planning and programming, the series took off last May, when The Players Centre for Performing Arts performed a Broadway on the Lake production, free of charge for attending patrons.
Since that first performance, which sported an audience of about 50 attendees, things have only picked up steam. “In the beginning, it was more difficult to plan the performances with the performing arts groups because we didn’t exactly have a track record of doing this. At first, I was just trying to schedule performances when I could, but now it’s snowballed into a regularly scheduled, once a month event,” says Hackel. “After Asolo Repertory Theatre came to perform, that’s when things really took off.” Now, performances routinely bring in around 250 attendees from both within and outside Lakewood Ranch. As the program has caught on, Hackel has brought in heavy hitters from throughout the area such as Florida Studio Theatre, Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Orchestra and more. Even still, Hackel is open to all types of performances at “Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place.” “Honestly, I’ll work with whomever is interested. It can be from a professional group to even a high school,” says Hackel. So what’s next for the “Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place?” While Hackel doesn’t have a specific audience number in mind, she does hope that the series can continue to grow organically, ushering in both people from inside and outside Lakewood Ranch. And with nearly all of 2024 booked with performances, “Sights and Sounds at Waterside Place” shows no signs of slowing down. “I eventually want to also host visual art exhibitions as well at Waterside Place. I know that it’ll be a challenge with the location being outdoors, but I’m hopeful that it’s something that the program can grow into,” says Hackel. “I’m really excited to just continue to build the relationships between the residents and the performing arts groups, with the idea that patrons of these shows will become patrons of these groups in the future.” For Hackel, it’s all about building that sense of community in Lakewood Ranch, one performance
Explore The Suncoast Food and Wine Fest will take place on Saturday, November 11 at the Premier Sports Campus of Lakewood Ranch. General Admission ticket holders can enjoy the event between 1pm and 4pm, while VIP ticket holders can enter an hour earlier at noon. To purchase tickets and see more participating restaurants, visit www.suncoastfoodandwinefest.com.
FOOD HAS A REMARKABLE WAY OF UNITING INDIVIDUALS
and fostering a sense of community and connection. For over two decades, foodies have flocked to the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest to enjoy culinary delights and curated wine pairings. While this annual event brings people together in the moment, its effects can be felt throughout the community for far longer than a single day. Organized by the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch, the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest has always been about being able to give back.
“Rotary is a service organization, so the genesis of the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest was a way to raise money that we could then give back to local charities that may not be able to raise the funds themselves,” says Steve Kelle, a longtime Rotary Club member and the chairperson for the organization’s Food and Wine Fest Committee. “Over the 21-year span that we’ve been doing this event, we’ve raised and given away over $2 million to local charities. And the charities are always local. These are people in our community that really do help make our area better, and that’s why it’s awesome.”
Charities can apply on the Rotary Club of Lakewood Ranch website to receive grants funded by the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest. Past recipients have included All Faiths Food Bank, Habitat for Humanity and Southeastern Guide Dogs among many others.
“Once we share what we are and who we’re doing it for, the community really has become great partners in it with us,” Kelle says. “So it is a Rotary event, but it’s not just a Rotary event. We’ve developed relationships with our sponsors over the years. We’ve developed relationships with restaurants over the years.” While the Suncoast Food and Wine Fest has been held at a few different locations over the years, it currently makes its home at the Premier Sports Campus of Lakewood Ranch. In fact, the Rotary Club has been so happy with the venue, they just signed an agreement to continue hosting the event there for the next five years. This year’s festival will feature food from 48 area restaurants while also serving up samples of hundreds of varieties of wine. In addition to delectable dishes from local hotspots like Bijou Garden Cafe, Cafe L’Europe and Remy’s on Main, this year’s festival will feature live music from Kettle of Fish. There will also be cooking demos by Chris Covelli of Sage Restaurant and Angelo DiFiore of Sofia’s Restaurant.
“Seeing how these chefs think about food and prepare the food is really cool. We’re actually going to expand our seating for those two demonstrations this year because last year we literally had standingroom only,” Kelle says. The cooking demos take about an hour, and then guests can enjoy eating the food that they just watched being prepared. This food will, of course, be served with an appropriate wine pairing. LL