More than five years after its debut, The Francis event and banquet space in downtown Sarasota is scheduled to close this fall.
Tableseide Restaurant Group, which owns and operates a number of successful restaurants throughout the region — including Libby’s Café + Bar — has decided to focus on the upscale Louies Modern restaurant adjacent to The Francis and its other eateries.
The roughly 5,000-square-foot Francis, which opened in February 2013 at 1289 N. Palm Ave. after a $1.6 million investment by Tableseide owners the Seidensticker family and entrepreneur Jesse Biter, is expected to close by Nov. 1 — although an exact date has yet to be determined.
“There are other event, catering and banquet facilities either opening or in the works, and so the Seidenstickers decided to shift their focus to their restaurant concepts,” Biter says Monday. “But Louie’s Modern is alive and well and will continue to be the great restaurant it always has been going forward.”
Biter, who acquired the ground floor retail space beneath a municipal parking garage from the City of Sarasota, adds he is negotiating with a retail tenant for roughly half of The Francis’ space.
“We’re just repurposing the space,” Biter says. “It’s a great location, and with everything happening downtown, I think a place that will be in great demand.”
Tableseide officials say that despite the planned closure, their Modern Events business will continue to operate throughout the region.
"In this strong real estate market, we’re pleased that The Francis space will continue to shine in downtown Sarasota,” Tableseide Restaurant Group CEO Joe Seidensticker says, in a statement.
The move comes amid several changes at the Sarasota-based restaurant company, which also owns concepts Oak & Stone, Lbar and The Muse at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art.
Earlier this summer, Tableseide temporarily shuttered its flagship Libby’s location on Osprey Avenue for upgrades and to modernize the brand. A second Libby’s, which debuted in Sarasota in 2008, is currently being planned for Manatee County.
The company also has plans to open several new Oak & Stone locations — including in St. Petersburg — that will offer its signature menu of pizza and a wide selection of craft beers.
Last month, company patriarch and philanthropist Steve Seidensticker passed away at 65, following an extended battle with cancer.
The company has remained on a growth curve, however. In 2017, it posted revenue of $16 million, slightly ahead of that of the year prior, and last week, it held a job fair at Louies Modern to hire roughly 200 new workers.
Commercial real estate brokerage firm Ian Black Real Estate is handling leasing efforts for The Francis space, Tableseide says.