Main Street's newest restaurant hosts VIP party before Dec. 10 opening.
The Inlets' Lou Merucci was smiling wide, enjoying a drink with his wife, Lynn, and planning his next visit to the Grove, which opens to the public Dec. 10.
Merucci was one of several hundred people who had been invited to a VIP sneak preview Dec. 5 of the restaurant at Main Street at Lakewood Ranch.
Guests took up every seat of the huge, rectangular bar that opens to Lakewood Main Street with a pair of pocket doors that come together at the front corner of the restaurant. Just outside those pocket doors, flames roared from several different areas of an outside dining and cocktail area.
"This has the wow effect," Merucci said. "I've lived in Bradenton for 45 years and I am thrilled by this."
His friend and neighbor, Rich Pierro, added, "Lakewood Ranch doesn't have anything like this."
It does now.
If Grove owner Hugh Miller and General Manager Greg Campbell wanted to wow their guests, they succeeded. The event was supposed to run for two hours, and almost three hours into the taste test, the guests still packed the beautifully renovated restaurant.
All during that time, a steady stream of food flowed from the kitchen and was delivered by the restaurant's new wait staff.
"It's been so cool talking to everyone on the street," Campbell said. "Everyone is so excited. Tonight, we just wanted to give people a tour, a great time and the first peek. And I've got this really happy feeling. I couldn't be more excited."