East County dining opportunities will continue to expand in 2019.
East County residents might need to watch their weight in 2019.
Nearly a dozen new restaurants are slated to open in 2019 on the heels of a half-dozen other Lakewood Ranch area openings since October.
Greg Campbell, director of operations and executive chef for the Grove in Main Street at Lakewood Ranch, said the establishment has been well received since opening Dec. 10, and management will continue to tweak its offerings according to customers’ desires.
“We’ll continue to learn the area and the market and what they are enjoying,” he said.
Campbell said The Grove offers a fresh contemporary environment focused on regional American cuisine. His favorites are the fish ‘n’ chips — beer-battered cod with a side of fried mashed potatoes — and the Manhattan strip steak served with a side of mashed potatoes topped with crab claw meat and crab bisque.
Nancy’s Bar-B-Q, owned by Nancy Krohngold, said she will be opening at Lorraine Corners, in the space formerly occupied by The Ranch Grill at the northwest corner of Lorraine Road and State Road 70.
Krohngold said she’s waiting on permits, but hopes to open the restaurant in late February. The new restaurant will be a fast-casual establishment. There will be 150 seats plus outdoor seating. It also will have a full bar.
“We’re moving in response to the great reaction we’ve gotten in Lakewood Ranch (at Lil’ Nancy’s at the Ranch),” Krohngold said. “There’s a following. I think we’ll be a destination here.”
Lil’ Nancy’s on Lakewood Main Street will be converted into “Nancy’s Pantry Grab ’n Go,” which will offer cold prepared items from Nancy’s menu. She plans to open that concept within a few weeks of opening at Lorraine Corners.
Other restaurants will be coming online in the first quarter of 2019 in the Lakewood Ranch area, including Loaded Cannon Distillery and Tasting Room and Ohio-based Skyline Chili, both off Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
At The Green, in the northeast corner of Lakewood Ranch Boulevard and State Road 70, Tavistock Development is gearing up for the opening of Irish 31 Pub House and Eatery, as well as Keke’s Breakfast Cafe and a Wendy’s restaurant.
Founder Jay Mize said Irish 31 will offer traditional Irish fare, including shepherd’s pie, mulligan stew and boxty, a potato ball. However, it also will have more traditional American cuisine, including hamburgers and salads, presented in a more “upscale” way.
The pub will offer live music and large screens for sports.
“We definitely feel like Lakewood Ranch is the perfect type of neighborhood for us,” Mize said. “We are that Cheers-style neighborhood pub.”
Mize said the restaurant would open sometime in 2019, but declined to provide a more specific timeline. Tavistock is still building out the space.
Panera Bread Co., So Fresh and Starbucks have already opened.
“Our focus is on fine casual dining and bars at this point,” said Skipper Peek, senior vice president of commercial development for Tavistock Development Co.
Farther south at University Town Center, Benderson Development is building several more dining establishments.
Cassariano Italian Eatery and butcher’s shop Butcher’s Mark opened in November, while biscuit-centric restaurant Maple Street Biscuit Co. opened in late October.
Benderson is under construction for both burger-and-shake joint Shake Shack and Louis Pappas, a fast-casual Greek concept. Both are slated to open in the first quarter of 2019. Ford’s Garage, which focuses on burgers and craft beer, is expected to open in late 2019.