Caragiulo’s restaurant to relocate to Ringling Boulevard

Project team discusses facets of plans with City of Sarasota Development Review Committee

This graphic in the application shows the site of the new restaurant. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

On behalf of the Caragiulo family of Sarasota, whose eponymous restaurant has been in business since 1989, project team members have filed an application with the City of Sarasota for a new version of Caragiulo’s that would stand at 1833 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota.

The one-story, 4,300-square-foot structure standing 26 feet 8 inches in height would be located on the north side of Ringling, between Links Avenue and Osprey Avenue, the application notes.

The existing Caragiulo’s is located at 69 S. Palm Ave. in Mira Mar Plaza. The structural integrity of that complex was the focus of a city Historic Preservation Board hearing in June 2022. Seaward Development of Sarasota, which had been working on plans to purchase the plaza, wanted to demolish the two connected buildings, which mirror each other, and replace them with retail space and condominiums. The Historic Preservation Board denied the application for the demolition permit.

(In May, the plaza was sold to Miramar Acquisition Co. LLC for $17,3423,100, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office website notes. The registered agent for that company, the Florida Division of Corporations says, is RG Trust Services LLC, whose address is 1800 Second St., Suite 888, in Sarasota. That address also is home to Lawrence Advisory PLLC, which handles real estate and business law, its website points out.)

On its website, Caragiulo’s offer these details about its founding: “Memories are being served. Caragiulo’s became one of Sarasota’s most popular eateries in much the same way the family found the cozy storefront on Palm Avenue, with … ease. From his bakery in Brooklyn, Tony Caragiulo and his five sons came to Florida in pursuit of an agreeable location to open a simple Italian restaurant. After an exhausting, two week long car trek around Florida with no prospects and tempers flaring, Tony signaled for the car to pull over; ‘Stoppa the*#!*#!!!!car!,… This is it,’ he declared, pointing to the vacant stucco location … And it was.”

More details about the project

The application materials — including engineering drawings and a site map — were filed with the city’s Development Services staff in early November.

The architect is Javier Suarez of Sarasota. Wolff Construction LLC of Bradenton also is part of the project team, the documents show.

Ted Wolff, who handles bid management for the construction firm, noted in the preliminary application that, “pending permitting,” the work on the new restaurant would get underway on Jan. 15, 2024.

Project team members met with the city’s Development Review Committee (DRC) staff on Dec. 6. At that time, Alison Christie, the chief planner for development review, noted that, because the new building would comprise fewer than 10,000 square feet, and it would not stand within 100 feet of property zoned for residential purposes, the plans could be approved administratively. That means it will not be necessary for the application to be considered by the city’s Planning Board and the City Commission.

The DRC comprises city staff members who are involved in the various facets of development. They review applications and then offer recommendations on actions necessary for project teams to comply with all city regulations and policies.

The owner of the site of the new restaurant formally is Ringling Development LLC, whose principal is long-time city resident Dr. Mark Kauffmann; he owns considerable property in downtown Sarasota.

The red balloon marks the site of the new restaurant. Image from Google Maps

Ringling Development bought the parcel for $700,000 in October 2022, the Sarasota County Property Appraiser’s Office records show. The seller was Medallion Holdings LLC, which had owned the land since April 1999.

The principal of Medallion Holdings is Donald M. Lawson, Florida Division of Corporations records say. He also is the principal of Lawson Group Architects, which he founded in 1983, the company website notes. Its address is 4910 Lakewood Ranch Blvd., Suite 120, in Sarasota.

This year, the Property Appraiser’s Office record says, the taxable value of the 5,099-square-foot parcel is $551,000. The site is zoned Downtown Core.

During the Dec. 6 DRC meeting, architect Suarez characterized the plans for relocating the restaurant as a “pretty straightforward, simple project.”

Speaking first, Christie, the chief planner for the DRC, pointed out that, since both Osprey Avenue and Ringling Boulevard are considered “primary streets” on the city’s Primary Street Grid Map, additional development standards would apply for the project.

“The restaurant really sits in the center of this property,” Suarez replied. “We’re 100 feet from Osprey.”

Therefore, he continued, following discussions with property owner Kauffman, the project team members are working on two potential options. First, Suarez indicated, Kauffman would develop separately what Suarez called the “remnant” land between the restaurant and Osprey Avenue. The second option, he said would be to subdivide the parcel, with the restaurant standing as “an internal piece,” fronting only on Ringling.

Christie told him that she could talk with him further about those potential options during a follow-up phone call or during a meeting, “and see what works best.” Nonetheless, she acknowledged that she believes either option would be workable.

This is part of the landscaping plan for the new restaurant. Image courtesy City of Sarasota

Then Christie cited the following information from comments she had provided in a Dec. 4 DRC report provided to the contractor, Ted Wolff:

  • The maximum front setback from a primary street is 10 feet. However, that requirement applies only to the portions of a building that meet the city’s minimum façade and height requirements.
  • The maximum height of a structure in the Downtown Core is 14 stories. Christie noted that city regulations measure height by stories, with the maximum height of a story set at 14 feet, “measured from finished floor to finished ceiling,” she read during the DRC meeting.
  • “A minimum depth of 20 feet of habitable space is required for the full height and length of the first two stories along primary streets,” she added in the Dec. 4 document provided to Wolff.
  • “Facades must be built parallel to the front lot line along a minimum of 90% of its length.”
  • “Exterior material finishes on all facades is limited to pre-cast concrete, decorative concrete block, stucco, quarried stone, brick, [terracotta], and tile. Wood and metal trellises are permitted.”

Among other comments during the Dec. 6 DRC meeting, Todd Kucharski, general manager of the city’s Public Works Department, pointed out that the garbage produced by the restaurant would have to be collected six days a week, “minimizing the impacts of smell.”

He also advised the project team that city staff encourages dining establishments to consider means of reducing food waste, such as partnering with local food banks.

Kucharski did explain that he was not referring to food left uneaten by patrons, adding that that “is a whole different story.”

Other requirements noted during the meeting are the need for installation of “acorn pedestrian lamps” that comply with the city’s Engineering Design Criteria Manual every 30 feet along the street frontage and the inclusion of a sidewalk 8 feet in width. Discussion on the latter point indicated that the existing sidewalk is 6 feet wide.

As part of a Dec. 15 update provided to City Manager Marlon Brown, regarding development applications, Planner Christie also noted that 10 on-site parking spaces have been proposed, with vehicular access planned from the alley to the north of the property.