A new hangout offers my favorite beer, awesome sandwiches and the potential for endless entertainment.
By Hannah Wallace
In my constant, oft-foiled search for a regular, laid-back neighborhood watering hole (Fly/Karma, Mickey’s, Tavern on Main—all closed?!), I just recently sniffed out Flying Dog Café on Tallevast Road. Odd location, but half a mile from where I grew up. Plus, the Flying Dog Brewery (in Denver) happens to make some of my favorite beers, which is all the convincing I needed to grab CCB and scope out the new establishment.
Turns out, it’s been there for two years. Man, I am an excellent reporter.
Situated in that row of relatively new warehouses on the edge of the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport, the Flying Dog has a sort of stylized industrial vibe. Think ‘50s soda shop meets…well, a hangar. Like downtown’s Metro, but a bit more, I don’t know, straightforward. I liked it.
On the weeknight we were there, it was a two-man operation: An emo-esque but good-humored cook manned the kitchen, while a brazen, stand-up comic of a Philadelphian waited tables, tended bar and carried on loud, ball-busting conversations with the other patrons (about 10 people, all told). He immediately brought to mind Top Dawg Tom, the goon and den mother of my co-ed hockey team, the Beerslingers’ —and a ball-busting Philadelphian himself.
In addition to Flying Dog on draught (served in plastic cups—awesome) and other beers and wine, the cafe serves big-city-worthy deli sandwiches. CCB ordered “the Pound,” a choice of three meats (his included bacon, of course) and two cheeses. For his side? Fresh fruit.
“Hey!” the bartender shouted to the emo-cook. “The guy ordering the heart-attack special wants his side to be fruit!” So, so very Top Dawg Tom.
A sign over the bar read, “Famiglio,” and I tried to be a good little researcher. “Are you related to Mark Famiglio?” I asked the bartender, who scowled. “…or do you get that a lot?”
“Only about six times a day,” he said. “Do I look frigging Italian to you?” Well, he kinda does, but apparently he’s Irish Catholic, so what do I know. (The sign refers to the owner, Bruce Famiglio—Mark’s brother.)
We stayed chit-chatting after all the other customers had gone (not realizing it was well past closing time). The bartender reminisced about neighborhood bars in Philly, where everyone was family (in many cases, literally), and evenings out involved groups of people forming and splitting and coming back together like mitochondria. He did a monologue about subsections of Philly, who’s from where, how Philadelphians size each other up based on their old neighborhoods.
We decided to see this in action and called up Top Dawg Tom. After a bit of geographical clarification via speaker phone, the bartender realized the neighborhood in question. “Oh, you’re from the Greater Northeast!” he shouted accusingly.
None of this means anything to CCB and me, of course, but it’s still damn entertaining. Next time, we decided, we’re bringing Tom with us to this big-city neighborhood bar in the middle of an airfield. We can’t decide if Tom will like the bartender or want to throttle him, but if it’s the former, maybe we can get the Flying Dog to sponsor the Beerslingers. We can happily guarantee them a regular beer-drinking crowd.
If it’s the latter, well, that’ll be pretty entertaining, too.