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East County Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021 2 months ago

Market at Lakewood Ranch enjoys huge opening at Waterside Place

Market at Lakewood Ranch's debut at Waterside Place is a hit.
by: Jay Heater Managing Editor

Pat Maidment was starting to get busy Nov. 7 at her "Hot or Not" vendor's booth on opening day of the Market at Lakewood Ranch at its new Waterside Place site.

The market was only 5 minutes old, and Lakefront Drive already was packed with those checking out opening day.

Lakewood Ranch's Maidment wasn't worried that she might have long lines trying to buy her jams and jellies. She said stress won't be a factor at this market.

Lakewood Ranch's Addison Crutchfield, 11, gets a pretzel from Lorene Hill, the owner of German Brezel of North Port.

"I will just turn around the look at the water," she said of Kingfisher Lake being directly behind her. "I have such a great view here."

That view is good for both vendors and shoppers.

"It's fantastic," Maidment said. "The ambiance is better here (than at the previous site in the parking lot of the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center). We just opened and look at the crowd. It's fantastic."

Thousands of shoppers strolled the streets of Waterside Place, the entertainment and shopping hub that is just seeing businesses begin to open.

"It's beautiful here," said Lakewood Ranch's Debra Lockhart, who added that she will be a regular customer. "I wish I could afford to live in this part of Lakewood Ranch."

Monaca Onstad of Lakewood Ranch Communities said it was a great feeling to get the farmers market situated at the site where it originally was planned to be. The market, which started in 2017, spent two years at the Sarasota Polo Club and two more in the Lakewood Ranch Medical Center parking lot.

Onstad said about 80 vendors were set up as the market opened on Lakefront Drive for the first time. She said the alignment of vendors could be a little tighter and to expect more vendors in the future. Several food trucks were on hand for opening day and she said that will lessen as restaurants begin to open at the hub.

Onstand said the estimate for the opening market was 9,000 shoppers.

Sarasota's Erica Garland, Trevor Burns and Gina Burns, who make up "Fancy Larry and the Plain Jaynes " perform at the opening day of the Market at Lakewood Ranch at Waterside Place.

She also noted that the first Ranch Night Wednesdays event will be held Nov. 10 at Waterside Place. The street will be filled with 250 cornhole players, food trucks and live music.

Along with the market on Nov. 7, Lakewood Ranch Community Activities had yoga and volleyball events going on at the same time at Waterside Place's 8-acre island park.

Kirk Boylston, the president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, said Waterside Place has only two ground-floor spaces remaining at Waterside Place. Those two eventually will be filled with "sit-down" restaurants. Boylston also said there is only a "little bit" of office space remaining.

Boylston said he expected Good Liquid Brewing Co. to open its restaurant and pub by the end of November. Several other restaurants have targeted the first quarter of 2022 to open.

It all looks to make for a bustling hub.

By 10:30 a.m. Nov. 7, the farmers market parking lots were filled.

Sarasota's Ryan Edwards, who owns Great Heights Creamery, can't wait to see how it all comes together. Edwards' vendor booth was right in the middle of the farmers market, in front of the pavilion.

"Look at the people," he said. "We started a minute ago on the first day, and we already have all these people. It's a beautiful, sunny day."

Ryan Edwards of Great Heights Creamery of Sarasota says he has the perfect spot, right at the midpoint of Lakefront Drive at the Farmers Market at Lakewood Ranch.
Shoppers pack into the Market at Lakewood Ranch at Waterside Place.
Shoppers check out the produce at the Market at Lakewood Ranch, now at Waterside Place.


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