Michael Kemsley, the owner of Forked at Waterside, equates turning a breakfast eatery into a nightclub to Clark Kent turning into Superman.
“You’ve got Clark Kent in the morning, and at nighttime, he puts his cape on and turns into Superman. That’s what we do,” Kemsley said. “After it’s all said and done, we get the team back the next morning. They bring the tables and chairs back in, clean the whole place and get it set up to serve breakfast.”
Forked at Waterside is set to be a hotspot for entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. Kemsley has musicians and DJs booked through the end of the year.
“You never want to steer away from your true identity, and Forked’s true identity is breakfast, brunch and cocktails, but I do know that Waterside needs something like this and I’m giving it a trial shot,” Kemsley said. “The first night, with our Halloween party, was amazing. It was a packed house and a lot of great feedback.”
The music plays inside only, so residents don’t have to fear speakers and amps being set up on the street corner. And his restaurant neighbors are happy to have an added draw for visitors. Hemsley has become close friends with fellow Waterside restaurateurs at Osteria 500, Good Liquid Brewing Company and the not-yet-opened Agave Bandido.
“We’re all here to support each other and do a bunch of fun stuff and just keep driving the traffic down here at nighttime, too,” Kemsley said.
Forked at Night opens at 7 p.m. with live music on Friday nights and a DJ on Saturday nights. The lighting changes at night to help the mood go from breakfast to bar.
While Forked at Night is heavily cocktail focused and also offers bottle service, the menu features light bar bites like the “Polo Club” and “Siesta Key Salad.” To keep with the true identity of Forked, “Buried Treasure French Toast” is also on the menu.
Kemsley has been wanting to venture into the nightclub business for a while, but has been hesitant because his only experience is as a patron.
“It’s time to evolve a little because I’m paying rent. Now, the restaurant is just sitting here empty from 3 p.m. until the next morning, and I get so many inquiries for private parties at nighttime,” Kemsley said. “When I started getting a lot more of those inquiries, I said, ‘Now’s the time to do it.’ There’s a couple new restaurants at Waterside and a lot more traffic, so naturally, I want to evolve with it.”
Lesley Dwyer is a staff writer for East County and a graduate of the University of South Florida. After earning a bachelor’s degree in professional and technical writing, she freelanced for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Lesley has lived in the Sarasota area for over 25 years.