The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 12 No. 31 - May 16, 2012


Chill at Swordfish Grill

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

louise bolger | sun
Mark Bartlett is the general manager at Swordfish Grill,
which offers spectacular views of the waters around Cortez.

There's not too much old Florida left in old Florida, but you can still find pockets of authenticity that will remind you of the way it once was. Tucked away along the quiet waters of Sarasota Bay in the iconic fishing village of Cortez you'll find a new restaurant that will restore your faith in old Florida.

The Swordfish Grill is smack dab in the middle of a working fishing village, boat yard and fish houses, surrounded by the bay waters that are home to practically all of Florida's water birds. The location is colorful enough for the most jaded Floridian, even before you step inside.

Inside you'll find a large cozy nautical space with a dynamite water view, walls made of weathered dock planks, tables, large booths a tin ceiling and a bar. The inside opens out to the deck and tiki bar, where high tables hug the railing along the water overlooking available dock space for diners who want to come by boat.

Mark Bartlett, the general manager of Swordfish Grill for owner John Banyas, has worked hard since the restaurant's opening in December to create a casual restaurant where you can have a beer and an appetizer or a rib eye steak dinner and everything in between.

Except for the daily lunch and dinner specials the menu is the same all day giving diners the flexibility of grabbing something quick at the bar or on the deck or relaxing and enjoying some of the entrees.

Some of the menu choices are appetizers like peel and eat shrimp, ahi tuna and ceviche. There is a raw and not so raw bar including stone crab claws and clams and oysters prepared in a variety of ways. Shrimp, chicken and fish baskets with fries and cole slaw are popular, as well as sandwiches like grouper, mahi, fish tacos and the Too Good To Be A Burger burger.

Available entrees include crabmeat stuffed grouper, grilled swordfish and shrimp as well as crab cakes, a couple of choices of steak and chicken. Salads and dessert are also available and there is a full bar at both the inside bar and tiki deck bar with many specialty drinks.

Bartlett says he is always looking for ways to improve the menu while still keeping the affordable pricing with menu items starting at $8. He also tries to keep all of the food choices local, doesn't use any frozen fish and does all the preparation work in house.

And if the views and the food aren't enough to entice you to visit Swordfish Grill, there's always the entertainment. Six nights a week it has live entertainment, usually on the deck.

Bartlett has been in the restaurant business for 40 years, 20 of them in Florida, most recently in the Florida Keys. One of the reasons he was persuaded to give up his retirement plans and relocate to Cortez was the old Florida relaxed feel of the area. He says it's the closest thing to Key West he has seen outside of the Keys and probably even a little more old Florida than today's Key West.

Try making the turn off Cortez Road at 119th Street and step back into the Florida of old where you can kick back with a beer and watch the white pelicans of Cortez at the Swordfish Grill, the Key West of Florida's west coast.

Swordfish Grill

4528 119th St. W., Cortez

11 a.m. - 10 p.m., 7 days
All major credit cards accepted


Anna Maria Island Sun News Story

Austerity vs. growth

Investment Corner

Elections in Greece and France a couple weekends ago caused financial markets to gasp for air for a few days, with fears of unknown policies the new administrations might implement. In general, voters in these countries used the "throw the bums out" method, replacing officials who were using austerity measures of cutting spending and raising taxes to try to solve severe deficit imbalances and control the growth of national debts.

Austerity measures make a lot of sense on the surface. Stop spending money you don't have and tax those who can pay more to close the budget gap. The problem is that when an economy is struggling to avoid recession or to crawl back into a pattern of growth, spending cuts and higher taxes work against the goal of accelerating growth and job creation.

Greece is a mess and may well have to leave the Euro currency block of countries. Fortunately, the economy of Greece is tiny in the big picture of the world economy, and a complete default or collapse of the Greek economy would not derail the economies of the U.S. or of those higher growth regions like Latin America or Asia. Of course, we do need to be concerned about a contagion of the Greek situation to other larger countries like Italy and Spain.

In France, the conservative Nicolas Sarkozy was thrown out and an avowed socialist, Francois Hollande voted in. At first, we might expect some concern over a socialist oriented president in the world's fifth largest economy, but France has been there before. I suspect the markets are using this as a good excuse for a correction which was likely to occur anyway after a great start to 2012

A closer review reveals that France's president elect, who definitely has socialist leanings, ran on a campaign of trying to solve France's fiscal and debt problems by promoting growth. Instead of cutting spending and employing other policies, which will retard growth, he will likely try to implement techniques to promote growth, which will increase revenue and may be a better way of starting to solve the problems facing not only France, but most other European countries which make up the Eurozone.

Since no quick resolution is possible using either the liberal or conservative measures, perhaps kick-starting growth now and then using the revenue created by that growth, combined with some spending cuts after the economy is stronger makes sense. It follows closer to the model being employed here in the U.S. over the last three years. While we aren't out of the woods yet here in our own country, it is fair to say that we are currently the fastest growing developed economy in the world, definitely with a head start over Europe and Japan.

Of course, here and in other debt laden areas of the world, stopping the growth of national debts is a huge priority once we have built the critical mass of a lasting economic recovery. There will be no shortage of rhetoric here in the U.S. in the coming months as each side makes the case for its policies as we approach the important election in the fall.

Tom Breiter is president of Breiter Capital Management, Inc., an Anna Maria based investment advisor. He can be reached at 778-1900. Some of the investment concepts highlighted in this column may carry the risk of loss of principal, and investors should determine appropriateness for their personal situation before investing. Visit


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