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House-Made Marvels: 5 Originals That Thrive on DIY

In a restaurant’s fast-paced, high-stakes environment, one might expect to see paths of least resistance as the most-taken.

Presented by Sara Stovall for the Sarasota-Manatee Originals April 2, 2019

In a restaurant’s fast-paced, high-stakes environment, one might expect to see paths of least resistance as the most-taken. However, when you have the talent, drive, and ingenuity of a Sarasota-Manatee Originals member under your roof, “do-it-yourself” becomes the obvious road to travel. “Originals” live by a “labor of love” principle, each member restaurant going great lengths to elevate the freshness and quality of every diner’s experience. The five restaurants you’ll read about here exemplify the rewards that come from the application of extra elbow grease. 

Bread Winners: PIER 22 and the Beach House Restaurant
Long before the sizzle of sauté pans, the unmistakable aroma of baking bread emanates from the kitchens at Bradenton’s PIER 22 and the Beach House Restaurant on Anna Maria. Many would say it smells like home...or even heaven. For PIER 22’s pastry chef Felipe Silva or the Beach House’s head baker Teddy Louloudes, it’s also a smell that evokes 4 a.m. alarm clocks, shimmering waves of oven heat, and patience by the pound.   

PIER 22’s pride is a 90 percent “from-scratch” kitchen, and its baked goods are a natural extension thereof. With gluten-free options available for all of their breads, no bakery treat lies out-of-reach—even gourmet doughnuts are shaped and fried to golden perfection here!

A Bradenton native, Louloudes is a Culinary Institute of America alumnus; a job in the school’s bakery provided his introduction to all things dough.

“This was just something I could see myself doing when I moved back home,” Louloudes says of baking at the Beach House. “You're getting a better product that's healthier. There was really no reason not to dive into it.”

The Beach House’s micro-bakery operation started out in a small kitchen corner where Louloudes shaped dough for table breads and pressed pillowy focaccia into trays. Today, Louloudes, eight other bakery staff, and two steam-injected ovens produce every piece of bread served at all three sisters of the Chiles Restaurant Group—we’re talking a volume of thousands of buns, rolls, and hoagies per day. 

Of the Chiles Group’s dive into DIY breads, Chief Operating Officer Robert Baugh says, “It's not about money; it's an added expense in a lot of cases for this kind of thing, but it keeps people motivated. It keeps their creative juices going, and it adds value, we hope. ... We want to attract new clientele who appreciate it." 

PIER 22 Restaurant – Patio –Ballroom
1200 1st Ave W, Bradenton | pier22dining.com
Beach House Restaurant
200 Gulf Dr N, Bradenton Beach | beachhousedining.com 

Oasis Café & Bakery & 1812 Osprey Wastes Not
The Sarasota-Manatee philanthropic community knows it can depend on Originals restaurants to give back, especially during the height of gala season. Tucked behind the Oasis Café & Bakery in Sarasota, you’ll discover a Palermo family project that gives back to the planet as well. A concrete block berm filled with dirt partitions the plaza’s rear parking lot from a storm water drain. Where many businesses have left it bare, last fall Adam Palermo (who now runs the show at 1812 Osprey, the Palermos’ latest foray into dinner service) saw 40 feet of opportunity.

"My dad's family always had a big garden growing up,” he remembers. “When we'd visit, we'd get to go play, pick, and eat things right out of the garden. That's where you learn the appreciation for it."

The sandy berm needed major amendment to become fit for gardening. As it turns out, being one of Sarasota’s favorite brunch spots produces a natural solution in pound after pound of fruit peels, veggie scraps, eggshells, and of course, coffee grounds—an excellent recipe for compost.

Composting at the Oasis Café is no small job. Staff at both the Oasis Café and 1812 Osprey save scraps (filling up to three five-gallon pails daily), which are transferred to a compost bin on the berm. They turn the pile weekly, bury the compost monthly, and move the bin to a fresh patch to restart the cycle. Leftover table water and condensation from the restaurant’s air conditioning units are conserved to hydrate the compost as well as the budding garden residents, which include pineapples, a loquat tree (gifted by a customer), and fresh herbs that augment the café’s kitchen spices.

The garden isn’t big enough to supply a menu, but patriarch Jim Palermo states that’s not the point. 

"The biggest reason for it is the ecological or environmental piece," he says, pointing to a return on investment in the fact that his dumpsters fill half as fast as they used to.

Oasis Café & Bakery
3542 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota | theoasiscafe.net
1812 Osprey a Neighborhood Bistro
1812 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota | 1812osprey.com

Gold Rush BBQ’s Revolution-in-a-Bottle
Venice’s Gold Rush BBQ’s house sauce hits the bullseye in balancing tang, spice, smoke, and sweet; for 18 years it’s satisfied even the most fanatical barbecue devotees. But when co-owner Bob Overholser was diagnosed with diabetes, he came to grips with the fact that he couldn’t eat his restaurant’s food. That got him thinking about all the other people who struggle with going out to eat on a low-sugar diet. Could Gold Rush BBQ develop a sauce to satisfy them, too? 

"Taking that classic flavor and trying to make it into something that has no filler is not an easy task," Overholser says—but if he was going to do this thing, he intended to do it right. That meant skipping artificial sweeteners and cheap ingredients such as cornstarch, which looks diabetic-friendly on a nutritional label but goes into the bloodstream after digestion as glucose. (Overholser says, “You might as well be eating sugar in the first place!”) 

After rigorous laboratory testing, the 26th formula first appeared on Gold Rush BBQ’s tables last August. Loaded with that award-winning flavor but just a single gram of sugar per two-tablespoon serving, Stevia Sweet BBQ was an instant hit.

However, Overholser’s vision isn’t limited to Gold Rush BBQ customers. Stevia Sweet BBQ is the only reduced-sugar barbecue sauce currently on the market that’s formulated and packaged for commercial restaurants.

"We want to change the restaurant industry forever,” Overholser says. “We really do want to start making it easier, more accessible, and expected to offer reduced-sugar sauces and foods when people go out to eat." Leave it to an Original to ignite a barbecue revolution!

Gold Rush BBQ
661 S Tamiami Trail, Venice
(941) 483-3137 | goldrushbbq.com 

Learn more about the Sarasota-Manatee Originals, their mission, and members at www.eatlikealocal.com