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Landmark Sarasota restaurant Hob Nob Drive In rumored to be closing

  • By Jim DeLa
  • | 4:30 p.m. May 14, 2024
  • | 2 Free Articles Remaining!
Customers pack the counter at the Hob Nob Drive In in Sarasota after it was rumored the popular eatery was closing.
Customers pack the counter at the Hob Nob Drive In in Sarasota after it was rumored the popular eatery was closing.
Photo by Jim DeLa
  • Manatee-Sarasota
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At noon on Tuesday, Hob Nob Drive In was packed.

People were lined up outside the restaurant’s open walls, waiting to order a burger, or maybe a beer, and watch the traffic on U.S. 301 flow in and out of downtown Sarasota. 

But today there was a sense of urgency. 

The rumors, on Facebook and Reddit, had started a day earlier — The Hob Nob, a mixture of kitsch and the common man since 1957 — was closing.

Elizabeth Henson was standing in line with her daughter, Danielle Winkler. 

“My first reaction was ‘No!” Henson said, adding she had been a patron of the Hob Nob for 30 years. 

“All of my children and grandchildren have come here,” she said. “My grandson from Tampa was devastated,’ when he heard the news. No more root beer shakes.”

But whether the drive-in is closing or even when it may close, remains a mystery, at least to customers. When a patron at a table asked a woman they identified as the general manager if they were closing, she only replied, “I’m not sure,” and smiled.

Other servers were cagey as well. “I don’t know,” was their standard reply.

Calls to one of the owners, Cary Spicuzza, went unanswered. 

Mary Kay Ryan, and her brother, Eddie Ryan, had been sitting at a table for a couple of hours. 

“We got in the car and came here this morning,” she said. After going home, she said they had to come back, “in case it was true.” 

Ryan said she had been coming to Hob Nob “since I was born. We always used to sit at the counter with my dad."

“Our parents used to bring us here after church in the '60s,” Eddie Ryan said. 

“It’s sad,” said Ed Cheetham, a professor at Ringling College of Art and Design. “I would bring visiting artists here for lunch, to give them a taste of Sarasota.”

Cheetham said he wished the city could do something to take care of it, ”as a landmark.”

The lines to order continued until 1 p.m., when they ran out of burgers. 

By 1:30, the manager announced, “We’re closed” to about 15 people waiting in line.

One patron, who the servers knew by name, asked them if they would be open Wednesday. 

“We’ll be open,” the manager replied. “I’ll be waiting for you.”

This article originally appeared on sister site



Jim DeLa

Jim DeLa is the digital content producer for the Observer. He has served in a variety of roles over the past four decades, working in television, radio and newspapers in Florida, Colorado and Hawaii. He was most recently a reporter with the Community News Collaborative, producing journalism on a variety of topics in Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties; and as a digital producer for ABC7 in Sarasota.

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