Restaurant: Louies Modern
Address: 1289 N. Palm Ave., Sarasota, 34236
Lunch guest: Stewie Bitterman, director with Synovus Bank.
Reservations: Accepted, not required.
Parking: Parking on the street is possible, but spots are usually scarce at lunchtime. Most customers park in the Palm Avenue parking garage above the restaurant. A $12 million project that opened in early 2011, the garage is six floors with 740 parking spots.
One-hour lunch test: Passed. Servers are attentive, helpful and knowledgeable about the menu.
See and be seen: Restaurant has become a go-to place for a mix of both business executives and retirees. Bankers and commercial real estate brokers favor the spot, along with snowbirds who shop at the Palm Avenue art galleries.
Ambiance: Urban hotel sophistication. The decor is modern, sleek and minimal. There are several corner tables, on opposite sides of the main floor, that are good for quiet deal-making conversations.
Food: The lunch menu is diverse, from a kale Caesar salad that costs $8 to the honey brined chicken breast salad. The latter dish, with escarole, pickled root vegetables and spiced ranch dressing, costs $14. Sandwiches range in selection from a vegan on a multigrain roll ($11) to a short rib grilled cheese on cinnamon raisin toast ($13). The food truck grouper taco, at $14, is one of the more popular items. The menu also offers a taste of the whimsical in items like the root beer float, a concoction of Dad's Original Root Beer, vanilla bean ice cream, Reddi-wip and a hazelnut cookie. It costs $5.
Ownership: The Seidensticker family — father Steve, sons Patrick and Joe and daughter Lisa — own Louies in conjunction with business partner Jeff Greco, who has a minority stake in the restaurant. The Seidenstickers and Greco also own Libby's Cafe + Bar, a popular restaurant in Southside Village, south of downtown Sarasota. They opened Libby's in 2008, and Louies followed last year.
Louies was designed under a different concept and menu, not with the idea for Libby's two. Louies includes a sister business, The Francis, a 13,500-square-foot catering/banquet facility available for meetings, weddings, parties and conferences. The Seidenstickers invested more than $1 million in the project, and that includes $1.6 million to buy the space, in a partnership with local entrepreneur Jesse Biter.
“This is a great location,” says Joe Seidensticker, who oversees day-to-day operations at Louies. “It's been a real success for us so far.”
Seidensticker says the menu at Louies has changed, even in the short time it's been open, to combine classic dishes with more health-conscious items. Beyond the menu, his main goal is to keep Louies accessible for a diverse crowd. “It won't change too much,” he says, “but the concept is evolving.”