A seafood dish from Bijou Cafe's menu

A seafood dish from The Bijou Café's menu

Downtown Sarasota's Bijou Café, beloved for decades for its fine dining fare, has a new owner for the first time since the restaurant was founded by Jean-Pierre and Shay Knaggs in 1986. The Realm Restaurant Group, a new venture from Sharon Carole, the owner of Sage, has purchased the restaurant.

Sharon Carole (right) and Chris Covelli of The Realm Restaurant Group, which recently purchased Sarasota's Bijou Café.

“It means so much to me to be able to preserve another beautiful historic location, and to continue chef Knaggs’ tremendous culinary legacy,” said Carole, according to a press release. “The Bijou is a cherished part of this community, and we intend to keep it as such.”

The Bijou building was constructed in the 1920s as a gas station. Since the restaurant's opening, it has hosted generations of diners, and has been a popular meeting place for people attending performances at nearby theaters, particularly the Sarasota Opera House.

Carole says she plans to continue normal operations at the restaurant, but renovations are in the works. Sage chef Chris Covelli will oversee the kitchen.

“I was so happy to sell to Sharon because I know she will continue it,” said Jean-Pierre Knaggs, according to the press release. “It’s like having a wonderful antique car and someone buys it who loves it. You know it will be well taken care of.”

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