New arcade adds even more fun to an already energetic Food+Beer scene
By Jane Bartnett
Eat food and drink beer!
That’s the advice that the two guys behind the very successful Food+Beer eatery on Superior Avenue in Gulf Gate have for hungry and thirsty patrons.
“It’s a neighborhood spot, a family place,” co-owner Mike Whalen said. “We see our regulars two to three times a week.”
The name may sound simple and to the point but that’s the way Whalen and his business partner Casey Daniels like it.
“We called it Food+Beer because we didn’t have a liquor license when we first opened. It’s a silly name but it works,” Whalen said.
Food+Beer’s main rustic dining room offers a friendly, welcoming vibe. It sets the stage with comfortable seating, great food, a vast selection of 19 draft beers, and a full shelf of top-grade liquors.
And now, an adjacent room with dark lighting holds an old-fashioned classic arcade filled with 19 games including pinball, air hockey, Pop-a-Shot, Skee-Ball, Pac-Man, Galaga, Mario Bros., and Silver Falls.
Whalen and Daniels first opened Food+Beer in 2018. In 2020, the two opened a separate upscale restaurant called Sea Bar that featured modern Pacific fare in the adjacent space that currently holds the arcade. After 10 months, they closed Sea Bar, kept the bar area and seating, and then recently went with the arcade games. It has become a popular part of the operation, they say.
Whalen and Daniels are two seasoned restaurateurs who first met 20 years ago when they worked together. Since opening the Gulf Gate location, they have opened two others — one on Fruitville Road in Sarasota, and another in Bradenton
On the weekends, brunch is served from 10 a.m. to 3: p.m. The bottomless mimosa bar is one of the main attractions and offers a choice of four different juices — pineapple, passion fruit, strawberry and orange juice – mixed with champagne for $15.
Entrees include avocado toast for $8.75; “Chick Phil-A” (a southern-style honey biscuit with American cheese, scratch fried chicken and bacon) for $8 (add an egg for $1.50 more); a Brunch Burger at $10.50; and the Chicken n’ Red Velvet Waffle with scratch fried chicken, red velvet Belgium waffle, cream cheese icing, sriracha syrup and pecans for $16.
Tempting egg choices include “Dad Jokes” (two eggs, bacon and biscuit) for $9, as we all as a traditional eggs Benedict for $11.50.
Try one of Food + Beer’s non-traditional interpretations of eggs Benedict they call the “Pot Roast Benny” (featuring pot roast, caramelized onions, béarnaise sauce, poached eggs and a biscuit) for $15.
During football season, Food+Beer becomes Philadelphia Eagles country. Daniels, a Philadelphia native, has the establishment designated as a meeting place for fans of the team.
Whalen, a Tampa Bay Bucs fan who’s a Sarasota native and graduate of Riverview High School, loves the football energy during games.
“No matter what team fans are routing for, it’s a good time. They’re all here in their jerseys going wild,” he said with a laugh.
Each day, Food+Beer’s lunch specials draw a local crowd from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Diners enjoy choosing from either a cheeseburger and fries, a chicken burrito bowl, a chicken Caesar salad, a chicken Philly & fresh cut fries, or a chicken garden salad, all at the bargain price of $7.99.
Its happy hour opens at 11 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m. daily. On Mondays, all cheeseburgers are $5.99. On Tuesdays, tacos are on the menu for $5.99.
On Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m., the Food+Beer arcade turns into a karaoke bar. On Wednesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. it hosts a popular team trivia night, in which the first-place winner takes home a $50 gift card and a bottle of Wycliff Brut champagne.
The most popular food item at Food+Beer? According to Whalen, it’s the peanut butter and jalapeño jelly chicken wings. “Sweet with a kick,” is how he describes them.
And the kitchen stays open late – until 1 a.m. weeknights and 2 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
“After 10 p.m. the party people are out and we have a lot of younger people,” Whalen said. “Sometimes, people drop in late just because they need a cheeseburger.”