American Main Street” evokes images of mom-and-pop stores where everybody knows your name. That’s the shopping experience you realize you’ve been yearning for and had almost forgotten—recaptured by an exuberant group of 21st- century Main Street retailers.
The trendy food, fashion and entertainment in this nostalgic Mediterranean setting are appealing to more than Lakewood Ranch residents, however. Though conceived as a convenience for the local community, Main Street is a hot new destination for outsiders undeterred by the reverse commute.
With world-class films, a Rodeo Drive address and wine and beer service, Lakewood Ranch Cinemas has the makings of a film festival every day of the year. This over-the-top brainchild of the Sarasota Film Society offers nine screens, more than any other nonprofit theater in the country. Lakewood Ranch Cinemas, 10715 Rodeo Drive, (941) 955-3456.
For the Best Jeans Butt contest sponsored by People Magazine, Beyonce wore $180 Siwy skinny jeans. The year-old brand’s fans also include Rachel Bilson, Nicole Richie and Kalena Aegerter of Bella Rae, who says the secret is gusseted pockets and a heart-shaped fanny seam. Bella Rae Boutique, 8141 Lakewood Main Street, N-102, (941) 907-9193.
Bravehearts will try the haggis (a Scottish specialty made from sheep intestines); for everyone else, MacAllisters offers classic American fare. Scottish-born Karen and Malcolm Ronney display 63 malt whiskeys on bar; splurge on the top-of-the-line 25-year-old single malt ($60 a shot) from Macallan. MacAllisters, 8110 Lakewood Main Street, (941) 359-2424.
Road to Morocco
The designers at Pineapple House Collection glean antiques and accessories from around the globe. This hand-painted Moroccan star table ($395) conjures images of puttering through steamy bazaars. Pineapple House Collection, 8131 Lakewood Ranch Main Street, (941) 365-9345.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE
Astoria restaurant offers a free shot of vodka with every order of author Ian Fleming’s favorite osetra sturgeon caviar. An eclectic menu of Russian family recipes includes this best-selling velvety borscht with ground beef pyroshok (turnover). Astoria, 8126 Lakewood Main Street, C-101, (941) 907-3873.
SHOE-HORNED into Endless Summer, a gem of a swimwear shop, is a dazzling array of footwear brands, many the darlings of Hollywood stars. From Jackie O to Sharon Stone, fans have worn Jack Rogers’ Navajo flat sandals for decades; we like the new Navajo Dressy with heels ($98). Endless Summer, 8111 Lakewood Ranch Main Street, J-105, (941) 907-7300.
Thank your hostess in style with a gift of tea, in the brand Oprah says is as good as it gets. Tea Forte’s single infusers sell for $1.25 at Wish; several gift sets are cleverly packaged, starting with six for $10.50. Wish, 8111 Lakewood Ranch Main Street, J-110, (941) 907-9125.
Golfer Chic isn’t an oxymoron at Main Street Golf, where cutting-edge new lines like Birdie are breaking every fashion rule of the game. A sexy mini skirt ($120) and pop art floral tank top ($80) coordinate with $30 boxers (for those with modesty issues). Main Street Golf, 8216 Lakewood Main Street, C-103, (941) 907-9001.
UNCORK AND UNWIND
Butcher, baker and what equates to an entire Main Street of shops are contained within the new 16,000-square-foot Morton’s Gourmet Market. Look for artisanal cheeses, fresh produce, J.D. Ford’s award-winning wines, gourmet prepared foods and so much more. The 75-foot hand painted mural of an old-world market street says it all. Morton’s Gourmet Market, 8141 Lakewood Main Street, (941) 782-0916.
DON’T FORGET TO…
Treat a friend to a custom candy gift basket at Create Your Own “A Confectionery Boutique,” where gourmet chocolate and truffles are just two of 200 sweet temptations.
Check out the new designer bed fashions at Anabelle’s Home & Kitchen; they’re only offered at the Lakewood Ranch store.
Call ahead for an after-shopping massage at Ana Molinari’s new hair, makeup and spa treatment salon.
Stop by Vanessa Fine Jewelry to see the private label watches before you buy anywhere else. The designs, pricing and three-year “buckle to buckle” warranty can’t be beat.
Who’s In Store
Jens Albiez left an international marketing career behind in London and Hong Kong to pursue his passion for art and modern design in Sarasota—the only town in Florida he says has a European feel. (And this town, he says, is “parking paradise” compared to his former homes.) His Sternberg Interiors, an eclectic mix of design studio, retail shop and art gallery in the historic 1926 Waterworks Building on Orange Avenue, houses original art, custom-designed rugs, artisan-crafted accessories and COR furniture, an exclusive German line with a mid-century aesthetic.
“Everything in the store is what I like; it’s not a great retail strategy,” Albiez says. In reality, the assortment is relaxed and sophisticated, without the hackneyed look of more widely available modern pickings. “I won’t waste anyone’s time with anything that isn’t original,” he says of his abstract to surreal art from innovators around the world ($800 to $25,000).
The Table is Albiez’s go-to spot for “an interesting combination of South American and international food,” and the Düsseldorf native says the talent at Sarasota’s La Musica festival is world-class. What’s missing? “A modern art museum would be nice. But they’re working on it.”
Bauhaus Studies Works by famed German ceramicist and Bauhaus student Helen Bollhagen (she started “throwing” in the ’30s) are still produced in limited editions though Sternberg Interiors ($75 to $300).
Fountain of Youth Renowned designer Peter Maly created COR’s Zyklus chair in 1984; its interplay of geometric shapes, circles and steel tubing is still a favorite of top designers worldwide. “Geometric shapes don’t age,” the 70-year-old Maly says.
Can’t Live Without “My piano!” Albiez learned as an adult: “I struggle with Bach, Chopin and Mozart,” he confides. Does practice makes perfect? He tinkles a Steinway concert grand at home (“It’s on loan from a client”) and a rare beauty (on sale) at the store. His favorite pro: Derek Han of La Musica.
Scandinavia is fascinated with good design and so is Helena Nordstrom, owner of the new Swedish House in Westfield Sarasota Square. Her picks embody the beauty, practicality and affordability of classic Scandinavian style—and the brands known for great design in everyday wares. Check out the Swedish linens, charming kids’ clothes and organic woods and textiles, or pick up ingeniously designed gifts like this Nordic Light candle holder ($87.50) by Jonas Grundell. It comes flat in a box, and cleverly unfolds to the shape you choose. Swedish House, Westfield Sarasota Square, 8201 S. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, (941) 921-1199.
Now that Toys R Us has closed, where will Sarasota shop for toys? We like Funtoysia, opened this just this year by the same family who’ve run their Pennsylvania outpost for 21 years. Funtoysia, 8311 Lockwood Ridge Road, Sarasota, (941) 355-9797.
Sarasota has developed its own “furniture district,” say retailers clustered on U.S. 41 from Gulf Gate all the way to the new Brandon on Blackburn Point Road. What does this newcomer offer that a dozen (and counting) nearby competitors don’t? Brandon is a “decorator warehouse,” where the prices are always at least 20 percent off retail. You buy right off the floor from a constantly turning selection. Brandon, 1200 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey, (941) 918-8205.