No one will dispute the expression “she sure knew how to throw a party” best defines Cindy Breslin, founder and owner of Siesta Key’s infamous Blasé Cafe. Socializing permeated her blood. Energizing a room was her forte, and making each and every person who came into her life feel “special” catapulted her into a realm that most people who knew her will say is reserved only for those who are Gifted.
“She was one epitome of the words care and giver,” says her business partner, Kevin Skiest, who worked with Breslin for the past five years to help reorganize and reenergize the business. As a patron, Skiest, an investor, met Breslin at her restaurant and forged a close friendship with the 65-year old feisty restaurant entrepreneur whose charming, funky and cozy Ocean Avenue venue began 25 years ago in Siesta Key expanded over the years from one table to seating to 100.
It came as a shock to all when Breslin was diagnosed a little over a year ago with colorectal cancer. At the onset of Covid when all restaurants suffered from closure, Breslin was silently suffering with her grim prognosis, undergoing aggressive treatment and keeping a low profile. Skiest, too, suffered severe health issues after he was diagnosed in April with Covid and was hospitalized for three weeks at Sarasota Memorial Hospital. “A really bad time for all of us,” says Skiest, but acknowledges that nothing compares to Breslin’s unexpected passing on August 23 while under hospice care at home surrounded by Skiest, Breslin’s three sisters and her daughter. “Her passing is a true tragedy.”
To appreciate the impact Breslin had on people can be reflected by the outpour of emotion on both Facebook and through interviews with The Observer. “I shared my mom with the world,” says Breslin’s 25 year old daughter, Olivia Cole. “Growing up, our house was an open-house to anyone who was in need, including wayward teens, the near homeless, and anyone else who needed mothering and mentoring, meals and a place to stay.” Cole shares stories of her mom “unofficially” fostering many kids who went on to be successful and grounded. “She truly inspired me to mirror her life and to be a champion of spreading love and compassion.” Cole reflects on her life with her mom, passing out menus at Blasé to patrons as a very young girl, then bussing tables and working in the kitchen. “Blasé was my second home.”
Michelle McVey, one of Breslin’s three sisters, was also at her deathbed and reflects on her sister’s life that began when she competed as a dressage equestrian rider in her pre-Blasé years in Sarasota where she grew up as a young girl after her mom moved the family from South Carolina. “That was short lived since she became pregnant with her second child.”
McVey says her sister went on to marry twice “actually three times since she married her first husband twice,” and began to wait tables and bartend at local, former, well-known eateries like Coasters, and Horsefeathers. Blasé was Breslin’s passion, and she realized her dream when she rented a former 10-unit motel converted for restaurant use. The restaurant flourished and Breslin and in 2016, her partner opened Pi 3.14, a pizza and craft beer restaurant next door.
“Cindy was IT. The face, the personality, the character,” adds Kiest, who adds that those characteristics were greatly enhanced by her widely-known generosity, kindness, empathy and compassion. “
In an email, The Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ann Frescura, says “we are saddened to hear of the passing of Cynthia Breslin, a long-time Siesta Key local business owner and Chamber member. The Blasé Café & Martini Bar reflects her passion and personality, and continues to be a fixture in Siesta Key Village, and a popular hotspot with locals and tourists alike. We send our sincere condolences to her many friends and family.”
A celebration of Breslin’s life will take place 6-8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17, at The Devyn, 7113 S. Tamiami Trail. The celebration will continue from 8 p.m. to midnight on both Friday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 18, at Blasé Café.
“We’re throwing one last party in her honor,” says Kierst. “He adds, “nothing will change at Blasé or Pi 3.14. Only Cindy won’t be seen dancing on the deck, except in spirit."
Breslin is survived by her daughter, Olivia, her son Wesley, three sisters: Michelle, Valerie, Becky, and three half siblings: Karon, Jimmy and Tami.