What was once an outlet mall has morphed into the spiffy new Shoppes at UniversityCenter, abuzz with unique stores, pampering salons and the coolest women’s gym around. But this mall at University Parkway and Cooper Creek Boulevard has also become a foodies’ paradise, with fine dining, a world-class demonstration kitchen, Zagat-rated burgers and an 8,000-label wine superstore, Total Wine & More, set to open this fall.
Melting Pot You’ll find a mélange of uses for Dansk’s chic new fondue set ($49.95), perfect for hot dips and crudités at a party, or melted butter over seafood on the 12-inch platter. Lenox Factory Outlet, 8485 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park (941) 359-8655.
Pro-nation? Run like a pro with shoes from Fit2Run, which ranks every sneaker by pronation, stability and motion control and provides an indoor track for testing hip new styles like Asics’ Gel-Nimbus 10 ($120). Fit2Run, 8123 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 348-5100.
Fab-4-Less Fashionistas with downsized budgets need not economize on style: Former Miami designer Rosie Garcia scours the market for couture looks for less, like the trendy Rubber Ducky top ($68) she’s modeling at her store. MetroMix Wear, 8223 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 355-2120.
Golden Gate? It’s no longer a Lakewood Ranch secret: Hidden Gate is a gold-level Vera Bradley retailer, the go-to place for first dibs on limited editions and hard-to-find items like this Raspberry Fizz rug ($60) and Baekgaard bag ($50). Hidden Gate, 8245 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 360-0075.
Burger Buzz Five Guys, the burger joint Zagat readers have been yakking about for seven years, has finally hit our region. Fresh patties (from $4.19) are hand-formed daily, and bulletin boards pinpoint the terroir of potatoes du jour for the hand-cut fries ($2.39). Five Guys, 8447 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 358-7900.
Crimson Glory For today’s young skateboarders, the Crimson name stands for decks with cool graphic art, not their parents’ fave heavy metal band. Connoisseurs head to this gallery of urban graffiti from all the right brands (from $45) at The Compound Boardshop, 8247 CooperCreek, Blvd. (941) 355-3637.
Star Quality Chef Chris Covelli studied with Andre Soltner (Lutece) and Alain Sailhac (Le Cirque), prepared feasts at the James Beard Foundation and out-performs himself with each unique six-course demonstration dinner ($95 with wine pairings) as executive chef of The Chef’s Table/MT’s, 8473 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 360-0007.
Mosaic Magic Follow the mosaic history trail from Rome to Ravenna to Mesopotamia to Mohawk, the exclusive Florida distributor of Italy’s chic Sicis glass tiles. The public is invited to browse all the latest patterns and colors at the flagship MohawkDesignCenter, 8125 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 360-1795.
Pro Bowl Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon’s sweetest victory is his new gastro pubs blending comfort food and state-of-the-art sports viewing. Try Mama Selmon’s meatloaf ($12.79) and winning bread pudding ($5.49). Lee Roy Selmon’s, 8253 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 360-3287.
Don’t Forget to…
-Top off your tank at BJ’s Wholesale Club, where membership ($45) saved five cents a gallon over local gas station prices the day we visited, and Rewards membership ($80) earns two percent payback on every purchase, up to $500 a year. BJ’s Wholesale Club, 8085 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park (941) 360-1363
- Make reservations well in advance for Bonefish Grill, where the wait is so long you’ll be famished enough to polish off the dinner-sized starters like spicy-sauced Bang-Bang Shrimp ($7.90) or irresistible Mussels Josephine ($8.80). Bonefish Grill, 8101 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park (941) 360-3171
- Check out the staff at Island Time Grill, where chef Dave McConaghy and his kitchen crew look familiar because they all hail from the legendary but now-defunct Summerhouse Restaurant on Siesta Key. Island Time Grill, 8225 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park (941) 351-5128.
- Hop across University Parkway to SuperTarget, then scout out the latest limited-edition accessories by fashion innovators, like Justin Giunta’s Subversive jewelry (available through July 20), and Joy Gryson handbags ($19.99 to $49.99; through June 21). SuperTarget, 101 N. Cattlemen Road, Sarasota (941) 360-7520.
-Bring the poker craze home with a flip top game-to-dining table (from $1,995) at Lakewood Billiards. For that price you also get four chairs, drink cup holders, myriad games; bumper pool options available at Lakewood Billiards, 8433 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 355-8889.
-Try the amazing and totally authentic gnocco fritto (fried strips of bread dough, Modena style) with prosciutto ($15) at Cantina Toscana. Owner Francesco Giannandrea serves the closest you’ll come to any Italian family kitchen on either side of the pond. Cantina Toscana, 8203 Cooper Creek Blvd. (941) 359-2500.
Shopping Page Crystal Palette
Dress up your table with colorful barware and stemware.
Après-Tea Party In homage to early BeanTown’s pattern glass, Villeroy & Boch’s lead crystal in pebble diamond design is called Boston and comes in blue, green or red goblets, double old-fashioned, highball and claret glasses, each $25. Macy’s, 600 SouthgatePlaza (941) 953-9309.
Precious Jewels are expected at Mayors, but these party table sparklers are a brilliant surprise. Gemstone-colored Hungarian cut crystal in multi-hued sets of six martini glasses ($295), shooters ($150), wine flutes ($295) and more. Mayors, 119 SouthgatePlaza (941) 952-1945.
Mote Marine? Ocean Breeze That’s how at Ashley Avery, 1425 First St.Sarasota (941) 955-9593.
Rose Colored Glasses are one of four pastel shades you get in every $39.95 set of Butterfly Meadow crystal balloons etched with butterflies, bumblebees and dragonflies to bring the garden indoors. Lenox Factory Outlet,
8485 Cooper Creek Blvd., University Park (941) 359-8655.
Crystal Clear mauve or green Cascara barware by Villeroy & Boch is as pretty as semi-precious birthstones, yet glasses ($14.20 each) are dishwasher-safe. www.dinnerwaredeopt.com or call Dinnerware Depot Warehouse Store, 418 Interstate Court, Sarasota (941) 342-8242.
Sea Glass The perfect beachy look for summer tables, Cabo Martinis are mouth-blown of recycled glass to create a clear stem and bubble-textured colored bowl in choices from lime green to turquoise ($10). Pottery Barn, 3501 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota (941) 366-5351.
Who’s In Store
Michael and Kathy Bush enjoy blurring the lines between business and pleasure, and it’s obvious at Home Resource, their chic-as-Miami furniture store. The lovers of performing arts sometimes convert their showroom into a live stage for performances of works by Williams, Chekov and more.
Now their new Improv at Home Resource promises entertainment as diverse as the store’s contemporary furniture, which skews from affordable brands with cutting-edge European flair to coveted Knoll design classics and ultra-hip fashion from Adriana Hoyos, Latin America’s rising star.
With their new 100 Central condo outfitted in the stuff they sell, the couple lives and breathes contemporary design 24/7. But they still find time for one extracurricular passion. “Kathy’s an accomplished sailor and president of the Florida’s Women’s Sailing Association. In the store we’re partners, but on our boat I’m the galley wench; I get the beer,” says Michael, the former head of Domino’s Pizza UK, and current president of Sarasota’s Downtown Merchants Association. —Carol Tisch
Home Resource, 741Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 366-6690.
Can’t Live Without: “Fringe theater: We loved it in
London and we’re re-creating the experience right in our store,” says Michael Bush. During live performances, friends and customers relax in furniture like Knoll’s iconic Platner lounge chair ($1,570).
What this town needs: “As a community, we need to support retail on Main Street, and to make a point of buying downtown,” Bush says. Bright ideas like Kartell’s Toobe lamp (table, $310; floor, $620), are electrifying reasons to shop his store.
Café Ole Ecuadorian design sensation Adriana Hoyos has two eponymous Miami showrooms, but Home Resource sells all her hot new looks, including the Café dining table ($4,301) of open pore seike wood.
Fashion Conscience and luxury are not mutually exclusive at new Juno & Jove, where every item is vetted for eco-friendly materials and processes, and every vendor prescreened for social responsibility. All men’s, women and home fashions meet eco-luxury criteria, like this power gym bag ($1,530) of vegetable-tanned leather with recycled silver hardware. Juno & Jove, 100 Central Ave., Sarasota (941) 953-0000.
Art of Gifting reaches new heights with M.L. Gosling’s upscale brands like annieglass and Edgar Berebi, and one-off treasures in ceramic and art glass. Owner Marilyn Taksen says the store is an outgrowth of her love of crafting, and what she calls “uniquities” (pieces you won’t see anywhere else), like this leaf tea pot by local artist Ki Woon ($350). M.L Gosling, 43.S. Palm Ave., Sarasota (941) 366-2500.
Green Tee New Bicol T-shirts ($42.99) made from eco-friendly bamboo will wick moisture away from the body four times faster than cotton and provide 360-degree reflectivity, a safety plus for night runners, walkers and bikers. “Bicol is about sustainability for the exerciser and the environment,” says co-owner Molly Jackson. New Balance Sarasota, 6573 S. Tamiami Trail (on Gulf Gate Drive), Sarasota (941) 921-3696.