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Business Observer Tuesday, Jun. 7, 2022 3 weeks ago

Inflation-walloped restaurant owner: 'I don’t want to be the guy serving $43 steaks.'

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A Longboat Key eatery tweaks menu to meet current times, and demand.

Local restaurant owners Michael Garey and Bob Fracalossy have latched onto a novel way to handle the double whammy of inflation and high food costs: The duo let go of lobster at one of their locations. 

In doing so, Garey and Fracalossy turned the Sarasota Lazy Lobster — what was one of two in the area; the other is on Longboat Key — into a Kacey’s Seafood. The new Kacey's, on Lockwood Ridge Road, joins the original Kacey's location on Fruitville Road. It opened May 11 after a three-week conversion. 

Garey, in an interview with the Longboat Observer, sister paper of the Business Observer, doesn't mince words about the switch: Kacey’s Seafood offers a more price-accessible menu than Lazy Lobster was becoming. Seafood remains on the menu, but the price points are lower, with a smaller variety of entrees and fewer seafood options.

"With these inflationary times right now, we took a look at the Lazy Lobster on Lockwood Ridge and the skyrocketing prices of lobster, steak, scallops, veal, ribs, all the Lazy Lobster types of protein, and we thought that location was going to reach special-occasion status,” Garey tells the Longboat Observer. “The Lazy Lobster was founded as a neighborhood restaurant concept, so it’s affordable — you can eat there again and again. And I think we still remain a good bargain (on Longboat), but it was starting to get too high (in Sarasota). We thought that making it a Kacey’s would bring us back to being a neighborhood restaurant you can go to often.”

Fracalossy and Garey, who both came up through the Sarasota food scene via Cafe L’Europe, opened the first Kacey’s in 2013 after they converted an old Quizno’s sandwich shop.

It’s named for their wives — Kay and Catherine — which Garey says was the only way they could persuade them to get on board with the idea. The Longboat Key Lazy Lobster opened in 2009 and has become a staple on the island. Yet no surprise, Garey faces inflation issues there too.

There’s a higher threshold for “affordable family restaurant” on the Key, he says, but rising prices loom.

“We have the advantage (on Longboat) of being affordable in comparison,” Garey says. “I’m facing challenges here, like with filet mignon. Do I charge $43 or take it off the menu? I took it off the menu because I don’t want to be the guy serving $43 steaks.”

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