Dedicated fans of The Starlite Room woke up to somber news on Thursday. After four and a half years in business, the downtown restaurant, located at 1001 Cocoanut Ave., Sarasota, announced that it will be closing. The decision was made after the restaurant's owner, Tyler Yurckonis, signed a contract with the Food Network, which plans to use the space for a new show. “It really is the opportunity of a lifetime,” says Yurckonis. “The Starlite has had ups and downs financially. Owning a restaurant is difficult, especially in a seasonal place like Sarasota.”
Yurckonis was originally contacted by producers about the television show last October, and a portion of the filming took place two weeks ago. Yurckonis says the production team behind the show, which remains unnamed, will return to Sarasota to continue filming soon. On Monday, April 1, the restaurant will close for renovations, with an auction held the following day. Yurckonis, who will remain owner, says the restaurant will reopen on Thursday, April 18.
The Starlite Room has hosted several LGBTQ-centered events in Sarasota. In collaboration with Beadle Media, the second level of the restaurant was home to Elevate, a bar that regularly hosted drag shows and performances. According to Yurckonis, renovations will take place on the first floor, meaning that the second floor will likely continue to host similar events.
While the space will be undergoing renovations, Yurckonis has no idea what the end result will look like. “The core will remain the same,” says Yurckonis. “It’s going to be a different look, a different menu, but the servers and staff will remain the same.” All of this, and more, will be covered in the upcoming episode of the Food Network show. Stay tuned.