SUN PHOTO/LOUISE BOLGER
General Manager Ken Parsons shows one of the wines
from the Cafe on the Bays wine list. The photo
mural on the back wall recreates the view from the
restaurants original location on the bay.
By Louise Bolger
sun staff writer
The new Café On The Bay isnt on the bay and
its not really a café, but as soon as you
step through the front door, youll be embraced by
the restaurants cozy yet open feeling. The popular
restaurant has long been a fixture on Longboat Key, and
for many years, it was perched on the waters edge
at the Longboat Key Moorings Marina. When Titus Letschert
and Betsie Coolidge, also owners of Sarasotas Café
LEurope, moved their restaurant further north on
the Key in October of 2006, not only did they take their
nautical look, and great recipes, but they also took all
of their traditional furniture, even the bar.
The general manager at Café On The Bay, Ken Parsons,
is widely enthusiastic about the restaurants new
location, and for good reason. The expanded restaurant,
with 32 more seats than the original location, is beautifully
decorated with a nautical theme right down to a photo
mural on the back wall recreating the view from the original
restaurant location. There is a hand-painted ceiling as
well. The walls are all tastefully painted in a variety
of warm colors and adorned with original art work, all
of which is for sale from Abbott/Atelier Gallery in Sarasota.
Even the bar in the comfortable lounge was moved from
the previous location, and when it was too large for the
new space, a section was removed and used as a hostess
For alfresco dining there is an adjacent terrace with
heaters if its chilly and umbrellas with miniature
lights, just like dining under the stars. The restaurant
also has a separate dining room for private parties where
dinners can be catered to patrons wishes or ordered
off the menu.
Food is, of course, what Café On The Bay is all
about. Parsons, who has been with the restaurant for six
years, says the enhanced menu is better than ever. Rack
of Colorado lamb, Banana-Crusted Grouper and Captains
Choice, a blend of lobster, scallops and shrimp, are just
a few of the current menu items.
Tuesday through Friday is happy hour in the Commodore
Lounge with $4 imported French wines and well drinks and
complimentary tapas. And dont forget Sunday brunch,
one of Café On The Bays long standing attractions.
Café On The Bay has a great $42.97 per couple dinner
special every day between 5 and 6 p.m. consisting of a
three-course dinner and a bottle of wine. Its a
wonderful before-theatre dining choice, but Parsons tells
me you must have a reservation, since it is booked practically
Also try its award-winning Pomegranate Salsa featured
on Pama Pomegranate Liquors website. And since a
day without wine is like a day without sunshine, Café
On The Bay hosts Wine Raters Dinners & Tastings.
Since Café On The Bay no longer had a water view
to depend on, Parsons says his goal was to make everything
better the food, the décor and the service.
On the day I met with Parsons, one of his customers agreed.
He told Parsons, "You guys made the right move."
Make your next dinner move the new Café On the
Bay not really on the bay and not really a café,
but a really great dining experience.
Café On The Bay
5350 Gulf of Mexico Drive
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday brunch: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Happy hour: Tuesday thru Friday, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m.
Open every day, major credit cards accepted