Visit Sarasota County held a kickoff party for its 13th annual Savor Sarasota promotional campaign, which runs June 1-14, during a party hosted by Element Monday evening. Local restauranteurs, members of the media and tourism officials sampled dishes from a handful of participating restaurants. Close to 90 eateries are participating this year, offering multi-course meals for just $16 per person for lunch and $32 per person for dinner.
Lynn Hobeck Bates, communications manager for Visit Sarasota County, a taxpayer-funded nonprofit that promotes tourism in the region, said Monday that the promotion is planned for summer months to help bring year-round business and new tourists. Bates said some tourists come to Sarasota specifically to experience the specials offered, and restaurants not involved tend to have less business in the beginning of June.
Farlow’s on the Water, located in Englewood, is one of 29 restaurants new to the program. The restaurant is introducing its own spin on tuna tartare and a new appetizer, “PB&J” (pork belly and jelly) during Savor Sarasota.
John Mazza, the chef at Farlow’s on the Water, said participating is a way to encourage new customers to try the restaurant's Caribbean-inspired dishes at a discounted price. “This is a way to give back to the community and it’s a win-win situation for both sides,” Mazza said. Laurie Farlow, a co-owner of Farlow's on the Water, decided to partner with Visit Sarasota County to show gratitude to loyal Sarasota customers who drive all the way to Englewood to dine. Farlow described the restaurant's food as “Caribbean cuisine with a Southern twist,” since her husband, Keith, is from St. Croix, while she grew up in Kentucky.
Element, which opened in downtown Sarasota six months ago, is also participating in the program and is offering four-course meals during dinner. Element’s marketing director Abby Hincker said the restaurant serves fine dining dishes with a décor inspired by the earth's four elements.
Returning participants such as Michael’s on East, Mattison’s City Grille and Duval’s will offer new additions and customer favorites on their Savor Sarasota menus. Michael’s on East is introducing a sugar cane-skewered citrus barbecue shrimp starter, while Duval’s added its most popular item, a shrimp po’ boy made with a French baguette, fried shrimp, tomatoes, napa cabbage and chipotle remoulade.