Every year around this time Sarasota is inundated with new arrivals.
People relocate here permanently or they find a place to stay through the winter months. Others are happy to just vacation for a week or so in our corner of sunny Florida nestled along the Gulf of Mexico.
To help them, we compiled a list of Sarasota-isms. Basically, it's an A-to-Z glossary of local sayings, places and people that make us who and what we are.
Yeah, Sarasota is a special place. Now, be sure you know how to enjoy it like a local!
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ALLMAN BROTHERS: A bunch of long-haired Florida boys and a Black man from Mississippi, the Allman Brothers Band formed in Jacksonville in 1969 but have been largely based in Sarasota-Manatee for decades. Founding member Dickey Betts lives on Little Sarasota Bay, Gregg Allman lived on Anna Maria Island in the 1980s and musicians associated with each continue to gig regularly at local venues playing Allman Brothers anthems like “Ramblin’ Man,” “Midnight Rider,” “Blue Sky” and “Whipping Post.”
AMISH: Members of the Amish and Mennonite Christian groups live in the neighborhood of Pinecraft in the city of Sarasota, wear traditional plain clothing and often get around on bicycles and tricycles. They also bake amazing pies.
THE BAY: A massive redevelopment project started in 2021 that will transform 53 acres of city-owned land on Sarasota Bay into parkland.
BAYFRONT: Most commonly refers to the area where Sarasota Bay meets downtown Sarasota including Bayfront Park, which is home to a couple waterfront restaurants and the annual outdoor Embracing Our Differences exhibit.
BOB’S TRAIN: Restaurant on Fruitville Road that Bob Horne has been running out of old Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus train cars since 2007.
BYE-BYE HUT: Nickname for the legendary Bahi Hut tiki bar on North Tamiami Trail due to the potency of its famed mai tais.
BURNS COURT: Development in downtown Sarasota built in 1925 by Owen Burns that’s now home to Burns Court Cinemas, Owen’s Fish Camp and many historic structures, including the Sarasota Herald Building that has housed The Exchange consignment shop since 1969, and was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in ’84.
CA’ D’ZAN: Name of circus king and queen John and Mable Ringling’s mansion on Sarasota Bay that’s part of The Ringling.
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C’EST LA VIE: A French saying for “such is life,” it's also the name of a famous French restaurant in downtown Sarasota.
CIRCUS CITY: Sarasota became known around the world as the Circus City after John Ringling brought the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus here from Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 1927.
COOLTODAY PARK: Named after a local air conditioning contractor, CoolToday (one word, folks) Park in North Port is the spring training home of the World Champion Atlanta Braves.
CUBANO: Originated in Tampa’s Ybor City, a proper Cubano, or Cuban sandwich – such as the ones served at Columbia Restaurant since 1915 in Ybor and at the Sarasota location on St. Armands Circle since ’59 – contain thinly sliced ham, pork, Genoa salami and Swiss cheese topped by a couple of pickle chips with yellow mustard and butter spread on Cuban bread with the entire sandwich heated in a press. There’s also the Miami-style Cuban served sans salami, which is best enjoyed locally at J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe.
DAVID: John Ringling purchased a cast bronze replica of Michelangelo’s David in Italy around 1900 and it was installed in the Museum of Art Courtyard where it remains a symbol of the City of Sarasota. Fun fact: John and Mable Ringling’s crypt is under the statue, but it’s empty.
DECK DIESEL: Siesta Key is home to Daiquiri Deck, a locally based restaurant and bar chain devoted to booze-infused slushies with their most famous selection being the dangerously potent Deck Diesel concoction of orange, vodka and grain alcohol.
DRUM CIRCLE: The ultimate hangouts for local hippies, the Siesta Key Drum Circle forms Sunday about an hour before sunset on Siesta Beach, while the Nokomis Beach Drum Circle is every Wednesday and Saturday evening.
ED SMITH STADIUM: Current spring training home of the Baltimore Orioles, the Sarasota baseball stadium is named after a member of the Chamber of Commerce, who helped form the Sarasota Sports Committee and was integral in securing financing for the new stadium that opened in 1989.
EVIE’S: Name of Sarasota-based restaurant and bar group founded by the father and son team of Steve and Michael Evanoff. Evie’s, by the way, is pronounced like “every” not “even.” Most people, though, including their own employees, pronounce it incorrectly.
EAST COUNTY: For those of us who live west of The Trail (keep reading), everything on its other side is considered “east.” Most folks, though, consider land east of I-75 “East County,” which includes the popular golf communities Venetian Golf & River Club, Laurel Oak Country Club and Bent Tree.
FAMOUS ITALIAN: Name of the most popular selection at Main Bar Sandwich Shop, which has been open at the same downtown Sarasota location since 1958.
FIVE-O DONUT CO.: Name of beloved chain of Sarasota doughnut shops started by Christine Nordstrom in 2017.
FRUITVILLE: Name of Fruitville Road, Fruitville Grove and Sarasota’s most famous drag performer, Beneva Fruitville.
GECKO’S: Name of Sarasota-based restaurant and bar group founded by Mike Gowan and Mike Quillen.
GROUPER SANDWICH: A popular menu item at waterfront restaurants across Florida, with Dry Dock on Longboat Key among its most famous local purveyors.
GATOR CLUB: Famed downtown Sarasota bar and nightclub with more than 100 years of history that includes serving as a brothel and hosting plenty of ghost sightings.
GILLESPIE PARK: Scottish native John Hamilton Gillespie used his Sarasota property to build one of the first golf courses in the country, eventually suffering a heart attack on the links and dying in 1923. Today, the neighborhood and park that bears his name is north of downtown Sarasota.
GULF GATE: For eclectic dining and ethnic grocery store shopping, Gulf Gate is the top destination in Sarasota. It’s also a great spot for pub crawling and home to the famed Munchies 420 Cafe seen on “Man v. Food.”
HART’S LANDING: Sarasota’s oldest saltwater fishing bait and tackle store – and a fine place to enjoy a cold beer and live music – Hart’s Landing, established in 1934, is at the base of the John Ringling Causeway.
THE HERMITAGE: A renowned artist retreat on Manasota Key founded in 1999 on a site that was home to a nudist resort in the 1930s.
HOB NOB: When a local say they’re going to “hob nob,” they don’t mean they’re about to mix socially with a bunch of snobs. No, Hob Nob Drive-In opened in 1957 on Washington Boulevard and remains there as a popular burger joint.
I-75: The county’s main thoroughfare,
Interstate 75 runs from Southern Florida through Sarasota and Manatee counties all the way up to Michigan.
ISLAND OF VENICE: The land between between the Intracoastal Waterway and Venice Beach including historic downtown Venice is often referred to the “island of Venice.” But we’re not sure if it’s technically an island since those sections of the Intracoastal are man-made.
JAH MOVEMENT: Popular local reggae band led by singers Damie Caines and Shantel Norman that’s regularly seen headlining top local venues and festivals.
JAMES BEARD NOMINEES: The cooking equivalent of an Oscar, Sarasota is home to two James Beard nominated chefs/owners: José Martinez of Maison Blanche on Longboat Key and Steve Phelps of Indigenous in downtown Sarasota.
JOHNSONS: If someone is overheard bragging about attending an event with the Johnsons, chances are they’re talking about AC/DC singer Brian and wife Brenda Johnson, who’ve lived on Bird Key since the 1990s.
KETTLE OF FISH: Popular local blues-rock band led by Dana Lawrence that’s also regularly seen headlining top local venues and festivals.
"THE KEY": When someone says they’re going to “The Key,” it’s OK if you’re confused. Sarasota has many keys, including our famed Siesta Key (continue reading) as well as the nearly as famous Bird Key, Casey Key, Lido Key, Longboat Key, Manasota Key and St. Armands Key.
KEY LIME PIE: Deemed our official state pie in 2006, the delectably sweet and tart Key lime dessert is popular at restaurants and bakeries throughout Sarasota with favorites including Floribbean Flo's and, yes, the bakery at your local Publix, the ubiquitous supermarket chain headquartered in nearby Lakeland.
KING, STEPHEN: The celebrity author of classic horror novels has a home on Casey Key with Sarasota County informing his 2008 novel “Duma Key” as well as 2019’s “The Institute.”
LEGACY TRAIL: Popular with cyclists and joggers, the former CSX railroad corridor stretches from just south of Clark Road in Sarasota to Center Road in Venice, with work underway to extend the trail north to downtown Sarasota and finish an enhanced connection from North Port.
MARIE SELBY BOTANICAL GARDENS: Marie Selby was a charter member of Sarasota’s first garden club and when she died she left her estate on Sarasota Bay to the community as a botanical garden “for the enjoyment of the general public.” Selby Gardens also now includes the Historic Spanish Point campus in Osprey.
MARINA JACK: Named after founder Jack Graham, Marina Jack, often called Marina Jack’s, is a 300-slip marina boasting three restaurants and a dinner cruise ship on Sarasota Bay where City Hall once stood. Its sister business O’Leary’s Tiki Bar & Grill is located nearby on Bayfront Park.
MICHAEL’S ON EAST: The most famous fine-dining restaurant in Sarasota, Michael’s on East is where folks have been going for aged steaks and fancy wines since 1987.
MOTE MARINE: Mote Marine Aquarium on City Island is where families have been going for generations to see sharks, manatees and perhaps pet a stingray.
MYAKKA: Named after a Native American word for “big waters,” Myakka around here refers to either Myakka River or Myakka River State Park, both mostly in Sarasota County, or Myakka City, which is actually an unincorporated community in neighboring Manatee County.
NEWTOWN: A historic Black community in north Sarasota that celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2014 and includes native sons such as baseball legend Buck O’Neil.
NOKOMIS: Gulf front community located between Osprey and Venice, it’s home to Sarasota County’s first public beach.
NORTH OF FRUITVILLE: The western portion of Fruitville Road divides downtown Sarasota from the burgeoning Rosemary District (formerly Overtown) and, just to its east, Gillespie Park, which are each called “north of Fruitville Road.”
OPC: Locals’ name for J.R.’s Old Packinghouse Cafe, which has been serving authentic Cuban cuisine and other comfort foods, as well as booking live music, for over two decades.
OSPREY: Named after the fish-eating bird of prey, there’s the Osprey community along Little Sarasota Bay as well as Osprey Avenue that runs parallel to Tamiami Trail from downtown Sarasota through Southside Village to just south of Siesta Drive.
PALMER RANCH: Master planned community containing part of the original land purchased by Bertha Honoré Palmer, a key figure in the early development of Sarasota.
PAW PARK: Located in Venice, Paw Park provides humans and their fur kids with a sandy, fenced play yard leading to the only beach in Sarasota County where dogs are allowed to legally enjoy a dip in the Gulf of Mexico.
PEE-WEE HERMAN: Paul Reubens, aka Pee-Wee Herman, grew up here and is a graduate of Sarasota High. Alas, Sarasota was also the setting for Reubens’ career-crippling arrest in 1991 for indecent exposure.
QUAY: The Quay on Sarasota Bay opened as a mixed-use office and retail hub in 1985 and would be home to various restaurants and a popular nightclub before being razed in 2007. In December 2020, builders announced plans for a high-rise luxury apartment complex and a luxury condominium project at Quay Sarasota.
RINGLING: John Ringling brought his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus here from Connecticut in 1927. Today, his name graces Sarasota’s most famous museum, bridge and, among other things, one of the city’s best-known boulevards.
SARASOTA JUNGLE GARDENS: An old Florida attraction dating back to 1939 that’s probably most famous for its free-roaming pink flamingos that guests can feed by hand.
SARASOTAN: Name of the rare Sarasota native – or just someone living in Sarasota.
SHARK TOOTH CAPITOL: Venice is known as the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World” thanks to the ancient sharks’ teeth that wash ashore on the city’s beaches.
SHARKY’S: Routinely voted best beach bar in Florida, Sharky’s on the Pier is a Venice landmark dating back to 1987 that places diners right on the sand at the base of the Venice Fishing Pier overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.
SIESTA BEACH: Ranked No. 1 in the U.S. twice by Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman, this beach on the north end of Siesta Key is Sarasota-Manatee’s most popular destination.
SIESTA VILLAGE: Centered around Ocean Boulevard, it’s a vibrant mix of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and shops located less than a mile away from Siesta Beach.
SNOOK HAVEN: Located on Myakka River – and, the story goes, discovered by smugglers during Prohibition – Snook Haven became a location for the 1930s Hollywood films “Prestige” and “Tarzan’s Revenge” before opening as a fish camp and restaurant in 1948. For the past decade, it has been a popular restaurant, live music spot and gift shop, as well as offering boat tours and rentals, run by the owners of Sharky’s on the Pier.
SOUTH COUNTY: As in South Sarasota County, the term typically refers to the communities of Osprey, Nokomis, Venice, North Port and Englewood.
SNOWBIRDS: Folks who flock to Florida during the winter.
SOUTHSIDE VILLAGE: Neighborhood teeming with popular restaurants and bars, mostly along Hillview Street and including Sarasota Memorial Hospital, about a mile and a half south of downtown.
SPRING TRAINING: Held annually in February and March, it’s when Major League Baseball teams come to practice and play exhibition games at CoolToday Park in North Port and Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, as well as various other Florida venues.
SRQ: In short, it’s the name of our airport, which dates back to 1956. The International Transport Association changed the designation of Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport from SSO (which sounded too much like the International Distress code, SOS) to SRQ, which today often is used as shorthand for the entire Sarasota-Bradenton area. SRQ is also the name of a monthly magazine founded in 1997 with headquarters in downtown Sarasota.
ST. ARMANDS CIRCLE: St. Armands Circle, which has no apostrophe and is commonly referred to as simply The Circle, is Sarasota’s famed shopping and dining district and home to such iconic places as Columbia Restaurant (established 1959), Cafe L’Europe (established 1973) and Crab & Fin (established in 1978).
STONE CRAB SEASON: The period from Oct. 15 to May 1 when folks can dine on stone crab claws at Florida restaurants, including a bunch of popular seafood places in Sarasota.
TOURIST SEASON: Often just referred to as just “season,” it’s when Florida’s roads, restaurants and just about everything else are most impacted by tourists and snowbirds. Also, it's the busiest time of the year here for everything from outdoor festivals to performing arts productions, season is from November through April, with the super-hectic “high season” in Sarasota-Manatee being January through March. Finally, “Tourist Season” is also the name of the brilliant 1986 mystery/thriller novel by Florida native Carl Hiaasen.
THE TRAIL: Short for Tamiami Trail, the southernmost stretch of U.S. Highway 41 that runs from Tampa to Miami. Locally, “North Trail” refers to the area of 41 from about 10th Street just above downtown to University Parkway, while “South Trail” pretty much covers everything south of Bee Ridge Road.
TURDUCKEN: A Cajun dish consisting of a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless turkey, it’s famously served in Sarasota at Alpine Steakhouse, which was featured on an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.”
UTC: Acronym for University Town Center, it’s used interchangeably to refer to The Mall at University Town Center as well as the entire area around I-75 and University Parkway.
WALT’S: Short for Walt’s Fish Market, Restaurant and Tiki Bar, which is a Sarasota institution with a century of history and one of the best places for fresh seafood in the Sunshine State.
VAN WEZEL: Pronounced “van wayzull,” the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall was constructed in all of its purple glory with funds from a city of Sarasota bond and a gift from local philanthropists Lewis and Eugenia Van Wezel. It opened Jan. 5, 1970, with a production of “Fiddler on the Roof” and since then has hosted countless touring Broadway productions and a long list of stars ranging from Bette Davis to Dave Chappelle.
VENICE FISHING PIER: Originally built in 1966, the city-owned Venice Fishing Pier extends 700 feet into the Gulf of Mexico from Brohard Park, the beach between Airport Avenue and Caspersen Beach, on the south end of Venice island.
WALLENDAS: One of the most famous names in circus history, the Wallendas’ deep ties to Sarasota date back to 1928 when John Ringling brought German native Karl Wallenda, brother Herman, and partners Joe Geiger and Helen Kreis to Sarasota as his Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus’ headliner act. Today, the most famous Wallenda is Karl’s great-grandson Nik Wallenda, who became a daredevil superstar with nationally televised wire walks over Niagara Falls (2012), the Grand Canyon (2013), the Chicago skyline (2014) and a live volcano in Nicaragua (2020).
WARM MINERAL SPRINGS: Listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places both for its springs and surrounding buildings constructed in the late 1950s, Warm Mineral Springs Park in North Port features water with an average 85-degree temperature year round and a high mineral content believed to offer healing qualities.
WSLR 96.5: Community radio station based in Sarasota that hosts shows at its Rosemary District venue Fogartyville.
XTC: Name of the “adult supercenter” with a location on 17th Street in Sarasota.
YODER’S: The Yoder family name in Sarasota is most famously associated with their Yoder’s Restaurant in Pinecraft that dates back to 1975 and you will find ice cream at local shops by Yoder’s Southern Creamery. We’ve also spotted the Yoder Auto Sales used car dealership on Washington Boulevard.
ZOTE: The tasty and potent (7.5% a.b.v.) flagship India Pale Ale by Calusa Brewing.
An earlier version of this story misstated the width of the The Legacy Trail and the location of Southside Village.
Wade Tatangelo is the Herald-Tribune’s dining and entertainment editor, author of the Best Things to Eat and Top Things to Do columns, and co-leader of USA Today Network’s Uniquely Florida team creating statewide content. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. He may also be reached by email at email@example.com. Support local journalism by subscribing.
Source : https://www.statesman.com/story/entertainment/2022/01/18/sarasota-isms-an-a-to-z-glossary-of-sarasota-florida-sayings-places-and-people-that-make-us/7880380002/6924