The owners of the downtown Sports Page Bar & Grille are eying a new home, but most likely won’t be moving into the space for four to six months.
Co-owners Kenny Barr and Bob Richards have found a possible new space for the sports bar and restaurant at 1459 and 1461 Main St., less than three blocks east of its previous location at 1319 Main St.
The new space includes two addresses — both of which were home to Super Value Nutrition, which moved last year to The Landings. Barr estimates it will take about two months and $100,000 to renovate the interior of the space. After Super Value moved out, a restaurant owner had planned to occupy the space but never did.
The new space is 3,200 square feet, which is 800 square feet smaller than the iconic Sports Page on lower Main Street.
But, the new location, in the middle of the 1400 block of Main Street, “will work out,” Barr said. Barr said he doesn’t view nearby restaurants and clubs, such as Café Americano, Club Ivory, Patellini’s Pizza and Mattison’s City Grille, as competition. In fact, he thinks those establishments bring more traffic to the area, which will be good for the new Sports Page.
The bar and grill’s previous Main Street location closed Monday, April 8. The Sports Page Bar & Grille, along with Living Walls, are two Main Street landmarks that will be demolished next month to make way for The Jewel, a 17-story luxury condo tower.
Over the past few months, Barr and Richards had been seeking a new home for the bar and grill, and last month they settled on the former Super Value space.
A quick move to the new Main Street location hit a snag, however, when city officials told Barr and Richards they would have to apply for an exemption to a city ordinance regulating liquor licenses. That ordinance prohibits two bars opening within 500 feet of each other. Smokin’ Joes Pub is across the street at 1448 Main St., and Ivory Lounge nightclub is located at 1413 Main St.
Barr is confident the Sports Page will get the exemption for the new location, but the process could take up to six months, and the City Commission has final approval of the exemption.
“There is a history of (the city) giving these exemptions,” Barr said. “In the last three years, they have given four of them.”
Both the bar and liquor store also require a conditional-use application with the city.
For both of these processes, “a timeframe of four to six months is realistic,” wrote Gretchen Schnieder, general manager of planning and development for the city, in a March 28 email to the deputy city manager.
The sliver of good news, Barr said, is the property owner of the space at 1459 and 1461 Main St. is willing to wait the four to six months for Sports Page to secure the necessary approval from the city.
On Tuesday, April 9, Bruce Franklin, a planner representing Sports Page, met with City Manager Tom Barwin and City Commissioner Paul Caragiulo.
Barwin outlined the process the owners would have to follow for the exemption and conditional-use applications.
“There is a feeling of cooperation,” Franklin said after the meeting Tuesday. “City staff wants to help us get through the process.”
If the city approves the exemption and conditional-use application, Barr and Richards will begin moving into the new space, bringing along the bar top that was a fixture at 1319 Main St.
“It’s granite and really nice,” Barr said.
Barr said the four- to six-month time frame means he has to part ways with the current staff, many who worked at the Sports Page for 10 or more years.
“We would like to employ all of them, but they can’t wait six months to go to work,” Barr said.
Staff has been kept up to date on what has been happening, Barr said, and he would like some of the staff to come back to work for the bar and grille when it re-opens.
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Cops Corner: Sarasota
Enjoy this week's edition of Cops Corner.
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