The venerable Beach Club enjoys a rehab and charitable celebration for its diamond anniversary
By Hannah Wallace
With 75 years under its belt, the Beach Club has earned its place as the grand dame of Siesta Key nightlife. The Ocean Boulevard mainstay, as the island’s oldest establishment, recently celebrated its diamond jubilee in true Siesta Village style: with live music at an upbeat, indoor-and-outdoor party benefitting a community cause.
Celebrated on Dec. 3, the family-friendly anniversary bash featured a series of live musical acts setting the tone for general revelry — more or less what the Beach Club has been doing since it first opened in 1947. Altogether the event raised approximately $4,000 for Casting for the Kids (castingforthekids.org), a Sarasota charity that supports local families battling pediatric cancer. It’s just the latest way the Beach Club continues to honor its history as well as its community.
“Every time we do a big party, we try to involve the community as well,” said Mike Granthon, who purchased the Beach Club along with partners Chris Brown and Todd Carter in 2006. “We all live here. I live right off the bridge. We’re part of the community.”
Beach Club ownership has changed hands several times since it first opened in America’s post-World War II, mid-century modern euphoria, but even the current generation of owners has roots in the area and appreciation for the location’s history.
These owners’ firsthand nostalgia dates back to the 1990s, when they first arrived in Sarasota and became friends — just as generations of new Sarasotans have done, Granthon argued: “This is where we hung out, where we partied. Siesta Key is really where everyone comes to hang out in their first few years here, right?”
(Granthon and Brown are also responsible for the Siesta Key Summer House, a 2018
Village regeneration of the beloved Summerhouse of the 1970s through early 2000s. Theirs is
an unaffiliated homage to the original.)
When Granthon and his partners took over the deed in 2006, the club had been styled to look — and even operate — like Gibsons Bar and Steakhouse in Chicago. The trio almost immediately began overseeing a series of significant restorations to re-establish and build upon the club’s beachy-sophisticated personality.
“We remembered it back to what’s always been, a beach bar that turns into a little bit of a nightclub,” he said.
Their first step was to restore the dance floor. Next was to add a stage for live acts. And their attention to their responsibilities hasn’t wavered for nearly 20 years.
When they hit 2022, having survived COVID-19 shutdowns, another renovation was due. “It was time, it needed a facelift. That place, between the saltwater, salt air, and the tourists and everybody that comes through, it gets beat,” Granthon said.
The most recent facelift, completed just before this year’s 75th anniversary celebration, added seating, changed the floors, and enhanced the walls and VIP section, as well as the bar itself, which now doubles as an homage to Siesta Key Beach’s famous sand.
“Quartz!” said Granthon of the new bar top. “What better way to fit the energy, right?”
The partners also invested in a significant upgrade to the club’s sound and lighting systems — all the better to accompany the high-energy stage performances the late-night Village hot spot has been known for. Live musical acts, both local and national, remain a big draw for Beach Club crowds.
“We want to be bringing in semi-national and national acts once or twice a year. Years ago, we had Eddie Money, Marshall Tucker Band, Molly Hatchet, Corey Smith,” said Granthon, rattling off artists and singers who played the Beach Club earlier in his tenure as owner. “We’re discussing bringing that flair back.”
Someone told him, “It looks like a grownup bar now.” He’s pleased with that assessment.
“It got a little bit more sophisticated,” he said. “It’s still a beach bar. On Siesta Key, you can’t do it too fancy. We want everybody to be comfortable.”
Generation after generation, people continue to discover Sarasota, Siesta Key, and the Beach Club itself. The current ownership takes their role in that tradition seriously.
“It’s quite neat to be part of that history, to have the opportunity, 20 years into this, to have been part of these stories. So many people in Sarasota hear that we own the Beach Club and say, ‘Hey, we met there!’ And now their kids come here.” said Granthon. “There are hundreds and thousands of stories just like that.
“The way things were 33 years ago Siesta Key still have. We’d like to keep that.”