In 1997, when Cynthia Breslin opened Blasé Café in a shopping center in Siesta Key Village, she started small, with just a handful of tables. When a neighboring business went under, she took over that space, and when the next business over from that closed, she expanded there, too. And when she and a business partner had the chance to take over an adjacent pizza restaurant, she leaped at that opportunity, as well, opening Pi 3.14 Pizza. She ended up managing almost the whole strip.
Throughout, she drew on a lifetime's experience in the restaurant industry, and was known for her creativity, her generosity and her knack for knowing how to throw a great party. She died last week from cancer, at the age of 65.
"She was tenacious," says Olivia Cole, Breslin's 25-year-old daughter. "She was a well-recognized and prolific artist, an incredible cook and a woman of wit, passion and energy. She was a powerful matriarch and businesswoman in Sarasota."
Breslin moved to Sarasota when she was 8, and grew up riding horses. She learned how to cook from her mother and grandmother, and worked nearly every job you could in the restaurant industry, at places like Brewmasters, Horsefeathers and Phillippi Creek Village Restaurant & Oyster Bar. When she opened her own place, she decorated it with paintings and decoupage works of her own creation and hung up stained glass windows she made. She was married twice, and raised both Cole and a son, Wesley Breslin, 35.
She also made a habit of helping out people in need. Cole says Breslin would take in kids who might be at risk of becoming homeless, and she would give her employees a place to crash if they needed it.
"My brother and I shared our mother with everybody," says Cole. "If she had the power to help, it was not in her capability to not do something."
Cole says no final decisions have been made about the future of Blasé Café or Pi 3.14 Pizza. Breslin and her business partner, Kevin Skiest, who joined her in 2016, opened Blasé Bistro in Southside Village in 2019, but sold the restaurant after struggles due to the the Covid-19 pandemic and Breslin's cancer diagnosis.
A celebration of Breslin's life will take place 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at The Devyn. The celebration will continue from 8 p.m. to midnight on both Friday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 18, at Blasé Café.
Outside of work, Breslin loved dancing salsa and bachata, doing Zumba, going to museums and art shows, making her own jewelry and repairing lamps. She loved Myakka River State Park, and diving. She had a great eye for antiques.
"She was something," says Cole.