SARASOTA — The owners of Anna Maria Island Oyster Bar restaurants have acquired Café L’Europe on St. Armands Circle.
A staple of the eclectic restaurant scene on St. Armands Circle for decades, Café L’Europe was previously owned by Julie and Ron Milton, who also own Sarasota Scene magazine. The new owners, Amanda and John Horne, are set to assume ownership of the restaurant Feb. 1, according to a statement. The restaurant sold for an undisclosed amount.
The new owners have operated Anna Maria Island Oyster Bar, with four Manatee County locations, for 25 years.
“For us, the sale is bittersweet,” Ron Milton says in a press release. “Since purchasing this legendary restaurant in 2016, Julie and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, our family-like relationships with our incredible staff, and getting to know our many loyal, wonderful customers.”
Milton states their recent full-time move to Pinehurst, North Carolina, as the deciding factor to sell. “We wanted to ensure Café L’Europe was left in great hands and with people who understand its rich history — people who can continue and enhance its great legacy,” he says. “We believe the Hornes are certainly the people to do just that.”
The iconic restaurant was founded in 1973 with German and Dutch influence by restaurateurs Titus Letschert and Norbert Goldner.
“Amanda and I consider it an immense honor to be entrusted with the rich culinary legacy of Café L’Europe,” John Horne says. “Much hard work has been invested over nearly 50 years by an illustrious group of local culinary titans such as founders Titus Letschert and Norbert Goldner, former managers Michael Garey and Bill Herlihy, plus former chefs Ray Arpke, J.P. Knaggs, Harry Christensen, Bob Fracalossy, Rolando Casillas and current Executive Chef Nick Sammelman.
“The team at Café L’Europe shares our core value at Anna Maria Oyster Bars to provide a unique brand of hospitality that ensures every guest leaves feeling like family.”