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Arts and Entertainment Friday, Oct. 5, 2012 7 years ago

A zealous heart in the heart of downtown

by: Kimberly Braun

"If we work together, we will create more business," says Diego Malatesta, general manager of Ivory Lounge and Sangria Tapas Bar of downtown Sarasota. Diego has always loved the feel of a vibrant downtown where people of all ages go to enjoy the stores, restaurants and each other as community. His passion is to help build that type of community here in Sarasota where nightlife and affordable prices go hand in hand.

My first encounter with Diego impressed upon me his personal graciousness and driving optimism. As the director of our local green living, health and wellness festival Sarasota Naturally, I met him on my first round of meeting merchants to have them sign the form that lets me close the street. Eyeing his lounge that opens at 5 p.m., the thought of having musicians in there during the day popped into my head. I opened the idea to Diego, and without a moment’s hesitation he said, "Of course, that is a great idea!" So during the event on Nov. 10, attendees can enjoy the shade of the lounge, rest upon yoga mats and blankets and relax to some of our top musicians of didgeridoo, flute, crystal and Tibetan bowls and gong. Diego sees the event as a great community builder for his own vision for downtown.

With a degree in animal science, Diego’s savvy business skills might surprise you --- but this native Peruvian is all heart, and is, in his own words, "here to stay." Diego works with Sangria and Ivory’s owner, Ambrish Piare, to reach out to our community by participating in the Suncoast Community Foundation and the supporting breast cancer survivors.

If you have never been to Sangria, you will be in for a real treat. Boasting delectable tapas and fine Spanish wine, the restaurant's ambience can be exactly what you desire, from family friendly to sweetly romantic. The warm Latin colors and comfortable seating make it a pleasant place all around. Ivory, in contrast, gives us a taste of something new and something young with its Miami-style couches outside and the backlit bar in the wide open dance space. Take a look at the exciting events happening there weekly!

Ivory, Sangria and almost all downtown restaurants and stores have stepped forward to participate in Sarasota Naturally by offering healthy menu items and 10 to 20 percent off purchases in the stores during the day! Even Wet Noses will give pet treats and Happy Feet Plus will have storewide giveaways! Once the music starts up on Lemon Avenue, Salute!will be selling bruschette (2/$3) and a veggie pasta ($8) on their part of the street for you to enjoy through the evening. A community drawing together …


This article is brought to you by:
- Kimberly Braun, Empowerment Guru and Director of Sarasota Naturallyand Celebrate Wellness Fest. Visit for more info.
- This Week In Sarasota, a media sponsor of Sarasota Naturally and Celebrate Wellness Fest.


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