Experience Sarasota: Social Eatery and Bar

Recently voted as one of the top ‘100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America’ by opentable.com, Social Eatery & Bar co-owner Jason LeFrock is justifiably proud of the award.

Sports fans may be familiar with the concept of retractable roofs protecting their precious suds and indeterminate feasts, and good luck to them. But for restaurant customers in Sarasota (especially those during Florida’s rainy season), who prefer a more refined al fresco option, those inevitable storms will often result in a quick dash inside, leaving their lobster bisque to its own demise.

Recently voted as one of the top ‘100 Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America’ by opentable.com, Social Eatery & Bar co-owner Jason LeFrock is justifiably proud of the award.

“There’s nothing like this restaurant in Sarasota if you’re looking for an outside dining experience,” said LeFrock. “Sarasota has money, but in many ways it’s behind the times, there’s nothing hip or trendy. But I feel there’s a shift in attitude starting to happen.”

Designed by Sarasota native Shawn Dehart, the interior of the restaurant has a flow that leads customers past the bar and through to the outside in an easy, eye-catching trip.

A mixture of plaid decorated walls and textural features inside and seriously alluring sofas outside all make for the chicest of Sarasota dining experiences.

Described by LeFrock as “classic, but with a modern feel,” he also proudly points out to the lack of TVs in the bar area. It was an essential decision, putting an emphasis on the social aspect of the restaurant’s name.

“I want people to interact with each other, to talk and not be distracted from your friends. I want my guests to eat, drink and be happy.”

LeFrock says he’s surprised at the success of the restaurant, claiming that in the two years Social Eatery & Bar has been opened (a veritable lifetime in the restaurant business) customer reaction has remained positive. It’s an emotion he and his co-owner David Goldman are confident will continue as the word spreads about their restaurant’s ambience and menu.

“We describe the menu as American-Italian comfort food,” he says. “In the summer we have a lighter feel to the menu, and in the winter the menu has a warmer, heartier element.”

Like many of Sarasota’s up-market restaurants, Social Eatery & Bar is heavily involved with working with local vendors and markets to supply the menu’s ingredients.

“It’s important that as a local business we maintain strong links to the local farming and diary industries,” he said.

“For the 2016 season, we’re aiming for a farm-to-table experience. It’s a tough business and we all have to support each other as business owners.”

And then there is the bar.

With the cocktails described by one local critic as a, ‘remarkable update without any of the gimmickry you might expect from a place that has put such an emphasis on being visually stunning,’ LeFrock simply describes the list as “putting our own twist on the classics.”

One of the more mouth-watering concepts is the bar’s make your own Bloody Mary which has many an amateur mixologist begging for mercy at the myriad of combinations.

“We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel,” admits LeFrock. “It’s all part of the ‘wow’ factor. Many customers are overwhelmed by what we offer and what we’ve achieved since the restaurant opened. There’s been a lot of planning and it’s been a steep learning curve, but being awarded as one of the best al fresco restaurants in America gives the restaurant the recognition it deserves.”

Social Eatery & Bar

1219 First Street
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