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Lazy Lobster's Michael Garey is anything but lazy

This Lazy Lobster co-owner doesn’t have a lazy bone in his body. He loves his work and honors the mentors who got him started.

Michael Garey at Longboat Key’s Lazy Lobster.
Michael Garey at Longboat Key’s Lazy Lobster.
Photo by Lori Sax
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The Lazy Lobster, on Longboat Key, has a laidback name. Don’t let it fool you. There’s a hard-working team behind it. Co-owner Michael Garey is one of them. He credits his work ethic to his two mentors — Murf Klauber, founder of The Colony, and Titus Letschert, founder of Cafe L’Europe. Garey spent 22 years at Café L’Europe, working his way from busboy to general manager. As he puts it: “Their legacy touched so many people in the local restaurant industry, including Ray Arpke (Euphemia Haye); Harry Christensen (Harry’s Continental Kitchens); and Jean Pierre Knaggs (Bijou Café). As I see it, my mentors started me on my path. Now I try to pay it forward to the next generation.” Garey spoke to us recently about his life and work.

The Lazy Lobster origin story begins with …

John Horne and Dave Gibson. They opened the first Lazy Lobster restaurant in Sarasota in 1999. I bought it in 2007 with my three business partners — my wife Catherine, Bob Fracalossy and his wife, Kay Kivenski. We opened the second Lazy Lobster on Longboat Key in 2009. So, we’re coming up on our 15th anniversary. (The partners rebranded the original Lazy Lobster in Sarasota as Casey’s Seafood.)

My first lobster encounter was when …

I was maybe 12 years old. I remember it vividly. I was with my father in Pittsburgh. I asked, “Can I have the lobster?” He said, “Yes son, you can. But I have to ask one thing first: Can you finish it?” I nodded my head — and it wasn’t a problem. I ate every last bite. It was so delicious.

The lobster thermidor is a favorite at Lazy Lobster.
Photo by Lori Sax
We get our whole lobsters from …

Boothbay Harbor in Maine. We have photos of the boat and know the fishermen who harvest them. They arrive fresh five days a week. They’re delicious, and so are our lobster tails. The tails are mostly cold-water Canadian. 

Lazy Lobster is …

Welcoming, accessible, consistent and reasonably priced. 

My role is to …

Assist the Lazy Lobster team with welcoming and seating guests. I also help the bus staff and I walk around and talk to guests. I love my job.

We hire employees who are …

Energetic, enthusiastic and want to serve.

I don’t pull 90-hour workweeks anymore because …

I’m 64 years old, and I’ve cut down to 60 hours or so. But I’ve got a great team in place and they make it possible.

My proudest recent accomplishment is …

Our 2023 renovation. We’ve transformed our whole interior. My wife, Catherine, did a beautiful job on the redesign. Chad Salvino and Gabriel Garcia did the work on the build-out. Gabriel was one of our original employees, and he’s still on staff as a server in the evenings. Their craftsmanship and attention to detail are second to none. 

Not in the mood for lobster? Try the Scallops Breanna.
Photo by Lori Sax
When I’m not at work, I love to …

Spend time with my wife, especially when we travel. We also love playing tennis and just being outside. My passion for golf was a casualty of the restaurant business. The good news is I’ve returned to my faith. Most mornings, you’ll find me at Incarnation Church.

Aside from Lazy Lobster, my favorite area restaurant is …

Probably Maison Blanche. It’s a fantastic restaurant that deserves all its accolades.

Don’t leave Lazy Lobster without trying …

Our lobster thermidor for dinner. If you’re here for lunch, you’ve got to try our lobster grilled cheese soup and sandwich combo.



Marty Fugate

Marty Fugate is a writer, cartoonist and voiceover actor whose passions include art, architecture, performance, film, literature, politics and technology. As a freelance writer, he contributes to a variety of area publications, including the Observer, Sarasota Magazine and The Herald Tribune. His fiction includes sketch comedy, short stories and screenplays. “Cosmic Debris,” his latest anthology of short stories, is available on Amazon.

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