It's not difficult to find great food in a Sarasota gas station. Don't believe me? Pick up a gordita from Taco Jalisco, located in a South Trail Texaco, hit up the T&T Deli inside a Shell near the interstate or order some fried chicken at the Texaco near Stottlemyer's Smokehouse.
But for sheer vibes, nothing compares to Rogers Market, the convenience store and full-on restaurant that recently opened at a Marathon gas station in Pinecraft. Is this the swankiest gas station I've ever been in? You bet. The building has a sleek black, white, gray and yellow color scheme, with gleaming subway tiles, a grow wall overflowing with flowers and shelves stocked with atypical convenience store fare like jars of basil pesto and guava jelly and bottles of balsamic vinegar and pinot noir from Sonoma.
The new store is the fourth Rogers Market to open. Previous locations have popped up in Fort Myers and Manatee County, and construction on a second Sarasota store, located on Fruitville Road east if I-75, is slated to begin next week.
Rogers Market owner Gigi Rogers got the idea for the concept while ferrying her daughter to ballet lessons between Santa Monica and Laguna Beach in southern California.
"There was no place to stop that had a clean bathroom where I could get gas and eat some good food—not one single place," says Rogers. "In the back of my mind, I was thinking of all the moms and women in the world, because convenience stores have had such a reputation of being so nasty and unappealing and not clean and not sanitary. I wanted to redefine an entire industry all by my little self."
Rogers' parents owned nearly 30 convenience stores dating back to the 1980s. Rogers, who has a background as a general contractor and a high-end residential interior designer, says she stepped in to look after the family business several years ago.
"I was not expecting it to be my new passion, but it turned into that," says Rogers. "I saw that there was a niche that has never really been filled."
The food is what drew me in. Rogers Market has a full restaurant kitchen overseen by a chef, a coffee bar with a trained barista and a pastry chef who bakes fresh items daily. The food is made from scratch, and the menu is designed to appeal to everyone from a construction worker in search of a hearty meal to a working mom with three kids in the car and an office worker ducking in for a lunch break. You'll find burgers ($7.99-$8.99), sandwiches ($6.99-$9.99), fried chicken platters ($7.99-$14.99), tacos ($3.99-$12.99), barbecued ribs and brisket ($8.99-$25) and breakfast options, like omelets ($8.99).
What I love about Rogers is the choice of sides. So many places just automatically ply you with French fries, but when I order a "hot chick" sandwich ($6.99), I'm happy to be able to supplement the entrée with a generous mound of ultra-garlicky green beans. Even if you still want potatoes, the sliced and roasted taters offer variety. The sandwich itself is also great—two big, well-fried chicken tenders tossed in Buffalo sauce and topped with pickles. A "pulled brisket" sandwich ($6.99) is another hit. At the coffee counter, the shop roasts its own beans, and also whips up a mean milkshake.
Rogers says the short-term plan for the company is to open one or two new stores in the area each year. Asked what her long-term vision is for Rogers Market, she doesn't hesitate to answer: "global."
The new Rogers Market is located at 1135 S. Beneva Road, Sarasota. The store is open 6 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday-Friday and 6-11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The deli is open 6 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. The deli will stay open later beginning in October 2021. For more info, call (941) 953-3551. Other locations can be found at 2415 63rd Ave. E., Bradenton, (941) 751-1550, and 4460 Tallevast Road, Sarasota, (941) 355-9440. For more info, visit the store's website.