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Celebrated Longboat Key restaurant sold

Euphemia Haye is the third sale in less than a year of a noted local fine-dining eatery.

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  • | 5:39 p.m. February 3, 2022
Ray and D’Arcy Arpke have owned Euphemia Haye since 1980.
Ray and D’Arcy Arpke have owned Euphemia Haye since 1980.
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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Ownership of landmark Longboat Key restaurant Euphemia Haye has changed hands — from the longtime owners to a longtime employee.

The sale marks the third time in the last nine months a nationally recognized, Sarasota-area, fine-dining restaurant has been sold: Bijou Cafe in downtown Sarasota was sold in May, and Café L’Europe on St. Armands Circle was sold in a deal announced in late January that went into effect Feb. 1. 

The employee who purchased Euphemia Haye, Amy Whitt, started as an administrative assistant in May 2007, according to a story in the Longboat Observer, sister paper of the Business Observer. Whitt, 39, who worked her way up to bookkeeper for the owners, Ray and D’Arcy Arpke, says she officially closed the transaction Dec. 13. The date marked when she officially took ownership of the restaurant, at 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive. The price was not disclosed. In addition, there was no listing of a recent transaction at that address in Manatee County property records as of Feb. 3.

Euphemia Haye celebrated its 40th anniversary in August 2020. (File photo)
Euphemia Haye celebrated its 40th anniversary in August 2020. (File photo)

Euphemia Haye has undergone several changes through the years, the Longboat Observer reports. The Haye Loft was added in 1990. The restaurant has expanded six times, going from 28 original seats to 150 now. 

Whitt insists she plans to keep Euphemia Haye the same. The restaurant celebrated its 40th anniversary in August 2020. The Arpkes have owned it since 1980. 

“Everything is going to stay Euphemia Haye as far as quality of food, the service,” Whitt says. “Just because it’s changed ownership doesn’t mean that it’s going to change. I still want to carry on everything that they have built.”

However, Whitt has already made one slight adjustment.

“I always joke when people ask, ‘What are you going to change?’ I put mints on the front chest as you walk out,” Whitt says. “That’s my big change.”

Whitt teared up when asked what it meant to her that the Aprkes chose her to take over Euphemia Haye.

“It means that they believed in me. That they trusted me, that they had the confidence... that I would be able to carry on everything that they’ve built,” Whitt says. “I always tell people that I’ve got huge shoes to fill.

“I know that I’m never going to fill them, but I’m going to try my hardest to get pretty close.”

The Arpkes plan to continue for the next year at the establishment to help mentor Whitt, who was not the only person they considered to take over ownership.

“They want to be able to spend more time with their family because they’ve sacrificed so much family time and everything for the restaurant,” Whitt says of the Arpkes. “The restaurant is essentially their baby.

“They’ve nurtured it and made it grow to what it is.”

Whitt is from St. Joseph, Illinois, a small town about 10 miles east of Champaign. She recalled her initial interview with D’Arcy Arpke.

“I came in and interviewed with D’Arcy, who is also from Champaign, believe it or not. (It’s) a small world,” Whitt says. “And, we just hit it off right away.”

(An earlier version of this story misidentified the capital of Illinois.)


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