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East County Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021 8 months ago

Owens Fish Camp breaks ground at Center Point development in Lakewood Ranch

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Owens Fish Camp begins vertical construction in Lakewood Ranch.
by: Scott Lockwood Staff Writer

The anticipated arrival of a popular Sarasota restaurant’s expansion into Lakewood Ranch moved one step closer Dec. 10.

Owens Fish Camp, known for its seafood and Old Florida style, broke ground for its vertical construction on the Center Point site at the corner of University Parkway and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard. It is part of CASTO's Center Point project.

“Today is a special day in life of this project,” said CASTO Principal Brett Hutchens. “When I first started thinking about how to curate this, I reached out to the Caragiulo family to propose a location here. I think what we're going to end up with is a facility that meets their vision and meets our goals here at Center Point.”

Rob, Mark and Paul Caragiulo and their family have owned restaurants in the Sarasota area for more than 30 years. They started with Caragiulos, an Italian restaurant in downtown Sarasota in 1989. The first Owens Fish Camp opened in downtown Sarasota in 2010, and was followed by Veronica Fish and Oyster in 2016. 

“We've been in town for 33 years, in the restaurant business,” Mark Caragiulo said. “It's kind of in our blood. We actually enjoy it, which is a bonus. We love being in Sarasota, and we love what's going on here with the growth. We’re excited.”

Mark Caragiulo said they had been searching for what he called “a great spot” for a second Owens location. He said Center Point is not going to be a middle of the road shopping center and that “it’s going to have a little bit more soul to it.”

“We wanted the ability to create something that expresses the same kind of feeling and energy as the original Fish Camp downtown,” he said. “That’s not easy with new construction. We’re lucky to partner up with CASTO, which is willing to articulate that old, southern feel and bring some of those elements to this spot.”

When it’s finished late next summer, the Lakewood Ranch Owens Fish Camp will feature wraparound decks, a backyard fire pit, music in the backyard and an oyster bar.

“It’s a newer atmosphere, but we’ll work to bring some soul to that atmosphere,” Mark Caragiulo said. “We’ll have as many of the elements that we can bring up here from the original one, but we will be obviously in a little different environment. We’ll get close.”

Owens Fish Camp joins Olivia’s Italian restaurant and another fine-dining restaurant that will be coming to Center Point. 

Rob Caragiulo, Paul Caragiulo, Mark Caragiulo and CASTO principal Brett Hutchens stand at the site of what will become Owens Fish Camp at Center Point.

“We’ve made a point to balance the cuisines so there's a synergy of restaurant choices here,” Hutchens said. “We'll have seafood, we'll have Italian and another sit down restaurant that will be announced pretty soon. But it doesn't conflict with any of these cuisines. We’re trying to make something very special, and Owens Fish Camp is very special.”

The groundbreaking was important enough for Don Casto to fly from Columbus, Ohio. He credited Hutchens for having the vision to construct Center Point four years ago and bring businesses like Owens Fish Camp and more to Lakewood Ranch.

“There's enormous growth here and it's nice for us to be able to take advantage of that growth and to serve the community,” Casto said. “When you look at the lineup that Brett and his team has gotten in terms of restaurants and tenants, it's really over the top. Without question, Owens is one of the most unique restaurants ever and the Caragiulos are premier restaurateurs.” 

Rob Caragiulo was all smiles in talking about the future Owens Fish Camp as he stood where one of the wraparound porches will be built. He said that they’re targeting an opening date of August or September 2022.

“We're just excited to be part of something that we were hoping to try and recreate and capture some atmosphere that's downtown – especially unique environments,” he said. “We’re very, really excited about bringing that concept to Lakewood Ranch. It’s exploding out here with the growth. This is truly a Sarasota icon and we're really proud to have it here.”

 

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