Gulf Gate continues its transformation with more turnover potentially on the horizon
By Jane Bartnett
In recent weeks, two large Gateway Avenue retail/restaurant properties in the Gulf Gate business district have come on the market for sale. According to a website search, American Property Group is representing the sellers in both transactions.
The Sarasota Brewing Company, a popular Gulf Gate sports bar at 6607 Gateway Ave., closed its doors after suffering a kitchen fire during the Memorial Day weekend. The property was listed for sale in June for $1.4 million as restaurant/retail space.
Built in 1969, it is described on the real estate firm’s website as: “Four restrooms, second story (upstairs) office/loft. Brew equipment. All fixtures, furniture and equipment come with sale. Lot size 0.15 acre. Property size 4,383 SF. Gross land area 6,600 SF.”
In July, the Rebellion Night Club at 6523 Gateway Ave. was also listed for sale as commercial retail space. The listing price for the 7,584-square-foot night club, which continues to operate, is $3.495 million for the building and the business.
Rebellion is described on the real estate website sales page as: “Currently operating as the locally popular Rebellion Club; current business has a strong clientele and followers, new roof, new electrical, new plumbing; completely remodeled ADA bathrooms (4); large open layout: 3 separate areas allow for multiple ambiances.”
The Rebellion Night Club website bills the venue as “the hottest, upscale nightclub that will revolutionize Sarasota nightlife. Live music, top DJs, full bar, go-go dancers and large dance floor!”
Calls to American Property Group real estate agents representing the two properties were not returned.
Known for its seasonal beers, Chicago-style pizza and beef sandwiches, the Sarasota Brewing Company had served locals and tourists alike since 1989.
“Fire has closed our Sarasota Brewing Company,” the restaurant’s website reports. “We were forced to close the restaurant. Thank you to all of our guests!”
Owner Tony Ficano, who also owns Tony’s Chicago Beef on neighboring Superior Avenue, decided to close Sarasota Brewing Company — at least for now.
With its own micro-brewery on site, the restaurant enjoyed a long history as a Gulf Gate fixture. For many years, it had the distinction of being Sarasota’s only brewery. However, in recent years, a collection of new breweries — including Almazónica Cervecería, Brew Life, Big Top Brewery, Calusa Brewing — entered the Sarasota market.
When reached for comment, Ficano said that he is reviewing options and working with his insurance company.
Local Gulf Gate merchants say that the sale of both the Sarasota Brewing Company and the Rebellion Night Club, at both ends of the block, has the potential to bring a dramatic change to the evolving landscape of the Gulf Gate retail and restaurant scene. When the Rebellion Night Club opened in 2021, it transformed the appearance of the far end of the street. The space, previously known as Chester’s Reef and the Boar’s Head before that, became a dramatic, upscale entertainment location.
Recently, when the Screaming Goat Taqueria moved its restaurant from 6606 Superior Ave. to 6566 Gateway Ave., it brightened and re-decorated the space that had been home to Kazu 2.0 Sushi. The vivid and cheerful Screaming Goat signage and bright red decor has added new excitement to the south side of the street as a steady stream of diners drop in throughout the day. The larger seating area allowed owner Malin Parker to turn his original Screaming Goat space at 6606 Superior Ave. into a new small event and meeting space called Screaming Goat Events.
“I’ve been here for five years and I’ve seen it change a lot for the better, said Parker. “There’s a lot of good quality businesses coming in. Gulf Gate is a wonderful hidden gem in Sarasota.”
While it may not be a new addition to the street or to Gulf Gate, the Piccolo Italian Market and Deli at 6518 Gateway Ave. stands as an anchor. It remains the place that knowledgeable cooks and lovers of fine Italian food consider the go-to place to find fine Italian ingredients and, delicacies as well as delicious food to enjoy there or to take home.
When the Skinny Dip Frozen Yogurt Bar at 6616 Gateway Ave. opened in 2021, its brightly painted green and purple exterior drew in visitors who discovered a wide selection of tasty cool treats on tap.
In the fall of 2021, when the long-anticipated opening of elegant Opus Sarasota came about in the post-COVID-19 era, the restaurant was met with rave reviews and a bright spotlight was cast on Gulf Gate as a dining center.
What does the future hold for Gateway Avenue and the former home of the Sarasota Brewing Company and the Rebellion Night Club? Time will tell.