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Entrepreneur plans $4M Champagne bar and piano lounge in Sarasota

Ronnie Shugar is investing $15 million in downtown Sarasota entities and projects.

  • By Mark Gordon
  • | 1:30 p.m. April 9, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Sugar Champagne Bar is expected to open by the end of the year.
Sugar Champagne Bar is expected to open by the end of the year.
Courtesy image
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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A high-end Champagne bar and piano lounge is coming to downtown Sarasota. 

The concept, from local entrepreneur Ronnie Shugar, will be called Sugar Champagne Bar and will have a menu centered on fine Champagne, wines, spirits and chef-inspired small plates, according to a statement. And, of course, a piano — a pink piano. 

Sugar Champagne Bar is at 127 S. Pineapple Ave., which is the corner of South Pineapple and South Lemon avenues, outside The Mark condo building and Paul N. Thorpe Jr. Park. A spokesperson for the project and Shugar says Sugar Champagne Bar will be a $4 million investment and could be open by the end of the year. Shugar, through an LLC named 127 Pineapple Partners, paid $1.8 million for the 1,947-square-foot building in May 2021, Sarasota County property records show.

“Sarasota is known for elegance and excitement, for the arts and fine dining, and Sugar Champagne Bar is a singular collection of those experiences,” Shugar says in a statement. “Stepping inside you’ll know, at first breath, you’re entering a place like none other. As you’re surrounded by pink and champagne, you’ll find there’s a new discovery with every single step.”

Sugar Champagne Bar is at 127 S. Pineapple Ave.
Courtesy image

Shugar has several other business interests. His main company is Raw Sugar Living, which sells hand soap, shampoo, body wash, body lotion, bar soap, body butter, lip balm, sugar scrub and other items. The products are made with plant-derived ingredients using cold-press technology, appealing to consumers seeking natural choices. Raw Sugar products are sold in Target and other retail outlets and online, and the company has a large social media following. Shugar co-founded the company in California six years ago and moved the headquarters to Sarasota in 2019. 

In addition to Raw Sugar, Shugar has invested at least $15 million in downtown Sarasota since moving to town four years ago, including owning several business condos in The Mark, his spokesperson says. He’s also potentially planning two restaurants nearby on Palm Avenue. 

The process to get to Tuesday’s announcement about Sugar Champagne Bar, meanwhile, dates back more than a year. That includes a contested Sarasota City Commission meeting in February 2023. At that meeting, nearly a dozen residents of The Mark condominiums spoke in support of and opposition to the proposal. The debate was over the designation of the concept — a bar, a restaurant or a nightclub. The permitting for the project, with nightclub designation, was approved by a 4-1 vote.

Shugar, back then and in the Tuesday announcement, says he envisions an upscale cocktail lounge evoking the flair of a European sidewalk cafe. It requires a 4-COP liquor license to operate, qualifying it as a nightclub use, which is defined by the zoning code as “any restaurant, dining room, bar or similar establishment providing food or refreshments, which holds a 4-COP liquor license from the State Department of Business Regulation, Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco.

“As I sat on the bench on the corner, I envisioned the Champs Élysées in France or the streets of Milan,” Shugar said of the space in the 2023 Sarasota Observer story. “People could just enjoy that beautiful scenery and beautiful building and, as an upscale brasserie, a place where mature adults could go to have a drink of champagne, hors d'oeuvres and just enjoy the beauty and surroundings.”

The building, in a vibrant pink hue, has “been meticulously updated while preserving its historic charm,” according to the release, adding that “the custom chandelier and signature pink piano have been carefully selected to create an immersive and theatrical atmosphere.” 



Mark Gordon

Mark Gordon is the managing editor of the Business Observer. He has worked for the Business Observer since 2005. He previously worked for newspapers and magazines in upstate New York, suburban Philadelphia and Jacksonville.

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