Oh, 2019—what can we say about you? The national news cycle seemed like it never stopped for a second, and here in Sarasota, things were equally busy. This year's most popular stories included news about the love-it-or-hate-it-or-love-it-and-hate-it MTV reality show Siesta Key, our list of the best restaurants in Sarasota, an incredible act of philanthropy from AC/DC's Brian Johnson and a beloved local grocery store opening its fifth location. We were happy to be your source for the best of Sarasota this year—and we look forward to continuing that in 2020 (and many years to come).

Without further ado, our most popular stories of the year:

The cast of MTV's Siesta Key

Image: Courtesy MTV

MTV’s Siesta Key Has Been Renewed for a Third Season

They're baaaaack: Alex, Juliette, Madisson, Brandon and more return to the small screen on Jan. 7, 2020. Love or hate the show, people had feelings about it, catapulting this story right to the top of our most-read stories list.

A dish from The Sandbar, one of our best restaurants of 2019.

Image: Tim Robison

Best Restaurants in Sarasota

Our food critic Cooper Levey-Baker scoured the Suncoast for the region’s best restaurants, from five-star, white-tablecloth spots to barbecue joints with picnic tables. The result is a varied, ultra-local list of the way we want to eat right now. 

Brenda and Brian Johnson

AC/DC's Brian Johnson Donates Property to All-Star Children's Foundation

The news of AC/DC rocker Brian Johnson donating a property to Sarasota's new All-Star Children Foundation struck a chord with readers. All-Star—which is dedicated to transforming the foster care system—wound up selling the property for $335,000, all of which benefited the foundation and its programs. "An awesome act of kindness!" someone wrote on Facebook; another person added of the Johnsons, "We are 'Thunderstruck' by your generosity!"

Meet the Winners of the 10th Annual Siesta Key Crystal Classic

Stunning sandcastles sculpted by sand artists from around the world meet the sun and surf of Siesta Key in November, one of the nicest months of the year in Florida. Need we say more?

For Sale: The Most Expensive Home on Siesta Key

Speaking of Siesta Key, in February, a waterfront estate on 1.4 acres went on the market for an eye-popping $13.9 million—the key's second highest-sale ever. The home has been featured in ForbesThe New York Times, Elle Décor, Dwell and Mansion Global; our Real Estate Junkie gave us a peek inside. (It eventually sold for $10.9 million.)

Lenny Landau

Image: Chris Lake

Has a Longboat Key Retiree Solved the Puzzle of Red Tide?

Red tide and its effects on our region was the environmental topic of the year. In this piece, Pam Daniel talks to former mechanical engineer Lenny Landau, who makes some logical leaps about how one factor in red tide could affect and intensify others. “I was determined to go from hopelessness to hope," Landau says.

Richard Appelgren

Image: Tim Robison

At One of Sarasota's Oldest Restaurants, Great Service Matters

Columbia Restaurant opened on St. Armands Circle in 1959, and has amassed a loyal following ever since. We talked to general manager Richard Applegren about the secret to its longevity. (Spoiler: It’s a commitment to great service.)

A sub from Detwiler's Farm Market

Detwiler's Opens in South Sarasota

Detwiler’s Farm Market, the Sarasota-based mini-chain that now has five locations throughout the region, offers a wide selection of produce (including hard-to-find fruit like the rambutan), local ice cream, high-quality meat and seafood and made-on-site baked goods. Its new location opened on Clark Road in late November, and locals were stoked.

The 10 Most Expensive Homes in Sarasota

Who wouldn't take a peek inside some of Sarasota's most expensive homes? We rounded up the 10 priciest pads in town, and it probably won't surprise you to learn that what all of them share are a prime waterfront location and lots of square footage. 

Image: Ryan Gamma

Sarasota Art Museum Opens Its Doors to the Public

After years of fund raising, design modifications and construction work, the much-anticipated Sarasota Art Museum finally opened on Dec. 14 in the historic former Sarasota High School building. It doesn't disappoint. 

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