Friday, December 23, 2011

LINGER LODGE Restaurant - a "Taste" of Old Florida

A lunch the other day, my friend asked whether I had ever eaten at The Linger Lodge Restaurant. She said she was recently introduced to it with her "biker group" (B is a petite woman full of fun and energy who purchased her first Harley a couple years ago) and it was a fun, casual "must see" kinda place.  So, my curiosity piqued, I stopped there for lunch today. 

The Linger Lodge Restaurant is located within a campground with mobile homes, RV's and cabins on the Braden River. Al Roker was once quoted as saying "Linger Lodge is one of the Top Five Weirdest Restaurants in the Country".  Probably because the decor is, well, "road kill" which has been stuffed or mounted and hung or displayed throughout the restaurant.

The menu consists of things such as "Alligator Chowder", "Fresh Florida Alligator" and the "River Sampler Platter" (frog legs and local gator grilled, blackened or fried).  For those with a strong stomach, they also have a "Road Kill Menu".  Being the adventerous sort that I am, I opted for the cheeseburger and fries but I must say, it was one very good cheeseburger!

The Linger Lodge Restaurant also offers various events and forms of musical entertainment (including karaoke) and I am quite sure it can be a "rip roarin good time". 

This is definitely a place to consider if you are looking to experience a "taste" of Old Florida.  Go and have fun with it!

Contributed by Jan Petters

Rosa Fiorelli Winery - a hidden gem in Bradenton

When my daughter finished her undergrad at UF in 2005, we celebrated by taking a vacation to San Francisco and the Napa Valley.

It was an extraordinary trip. We took a balloon ride over Napa and then participated in wine tastings at several of the vineyards. Our favorite, just as an aside, was the V. Sattui Winery .  They have an interesting history and an award winning reputation. It was a wonderful trip, full of good memories and times shared but the highlight of the trip for me was the time we spent in the Napa Valley.

So imagine my surprise when I recently saw a sign for a wine vineyard right in our own backyard!

This morning I drove to The Rosa Fiorelli Vineyard and was greetd by Rosa herself. She introduced me to several of their wines - and, unusual for me, I liked them all! I am definitely not a wine connoisseur (couldn't even spell it without spell check) but my uneducated palate thought they were exceptionally good.  

The Fiorelli Winery is family owned and operated by Rosa and her husband, Antonio, who moved here from Sicily. Over the years this 10 acre vineyard has produced over 100 award winning wines. So guess I am not the only one who found them to be exceptionally good. 

Along with the wine tasting, to cleanse the palate, Rosa provides dipping breads with various olive oils she obtains from Italy. One of them was a White Truffle Dressing. It had such a distinctly different but enjoyable taste. She said it is wonderful on cooked vegetables so I purchased a bottle for my Christmas dinner along with a lovely dessert wine.
All in all, this morning's trip was definitely a winner. And I will be taking family and friends back to this little hidden treasure.

Submitted by Jan Petters

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lakewood Ranch Dog Park

I moved to Lakewood Ranch a few years ago.  Yes, the drive is a bit longer to the beaches and to downtown Sarasota, but the lifestyle and amenities offered at Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding areas more than compensate. 

One such amenity is the Adventure Land Dog Park in the Greenbrook Community.  My daughter gave me a puppy two Christmas' ago, not wanting me to be alone when she got married and moved away.  While being lonely is the last thing I would ever worry about, I must confess Sophie is a joy -  probably the next best thing to Grandchildren!  We have settled into a comfortable coexistence and it is quite obvious who rules the roost (and it is not me!).  

A friend of Sophie's

But dogs, even small ones like Sophie, need exercise and the Lakewood Ranch dog park is perfect.  It covers several fenced acres with a separate yard for small dogs if necessary.  Here the dogs are free to run and play, learning social skills with other dogs, as well as becoming familiar and comfortable with other "parents". 
Funny enough, although I have difficulty remembering people's
names, I have no problem with dog names.  Names like Shamus and Lugnut, Mattey and Raisen, Smokey and Tinker . . . well you get the idea.  One additional benefit of the dog park is the people you meet.  Interesting, kind people - dog lovers all.  Actually I sometimes think I look forward to our time at the park as much as Sophie! 

This is just one of many Lakewood Ranch amenities -- I plan to highlight more in future posts. 

Contributed by Jan Petters

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sarasota Classic Car Museum - a must see!

OH MY GOSH! What a surprise I had when I visited the Classic Car Museum in Sarasota this afternoon. I have driven by it on the corner of 41 and University Parkway many, many times always thinking that someday I would stop in and check it out. I must confess, I am car ignorant. Ask me about a car and, beyond the color, I know nothing. But Sarasota's Classic Car Museum captured even my attention.

Opened in 1953, Sarasota's Classic Car Museum is the second oldest antique car museum in the U.S. Antique, exotic, European and one-of-a-kind classics are featured. I saw cars owned and used by John and Mable Ringling (Rolls Royce, of course), two cars owned by John Lennon (one was a station wagon if you can believe it!) and the car used by Kathryn Hepburn (chauffer driven but otherwise quite ordinary).

While I wasn't around at the turn of the century when the first cars rolled onto America's roads, I will admit to a trip down memory lane with the gorgeous cars from the 60's and 70's.

I was lucky enough to be one of the only guests during my visit so I got the personal tour by one of the museums knowledgeable docents, Phil. While the museum allows self-guided tours, I highly recommend taking advantage of one of the docents so that you don't miss any of the facinating historical tidbits about the cars.

Another interesting facet of the museum is its small entertainment room. Seating approximately 100 people, it hosts shows by many famous (impersonator) entertainers such as Elvis and the Beatles.  Sounds like a fun night out with friends.

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And just around the building corner from the museum is a car dealership that exclusively sells incredibly beautiful classic cars. It was a thrill just walking among many of these incredible automobiles.  I can remember as a little girl my Barbie always drove an imaginary Jaguar, much like the one below!


I encourage you and your family to visit the Sarasota Classic Car Museum when you next have an opportunity. Check it out on the web at You definitely won't regret it. Sarasota has a rich history and places like this are often overlooked but it is important for us to support them with our patronage so that they are here for many years to come.
Contributed by Jan Petters of Team Vitale

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Sarasota Sales Up Again in November

November Report from the Sarasota Association of Realtors reports that "The market has remained strong and stable as the winter season gets into full swing, reflecting continued confidence in Sarasota as a destination location. " Click the link below for the full report with stats and graphs.

SAR November Report

Sarasota Chalk Festival 2011

We didn't make it to the festival this year, but a colleague was kind enough to share a video. 

According to Peter:  The first few pix are 3-D drawings, done on a flat street, and the images are fantastic. The first 3 are images with a side view of the chalk drawing followed by an image that is viewed from "the right place" to see the 3-D art. Kurt Wenner, world-renowned artist, architect and innovator of 3D pavement art, was the artist for the first one in the this show. There are other smaller 3-D images late in the show.

We enjoyed the video and thought you would too.

2011 Sarasota Chalk Festival (click here)

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Lights at Sarasota's Jungle Garden

Without a doubt, Sarasota's Jungle Garden is a local treasure. I visited the Jungle Gardens for the first time last evening. Wanting to view Christmas lights, I was lured by the promise of over 1 million holiday lights. And, while it is not the high tech synchronized display often viewed today, I was not disappointed.

As I sauntered down the luminary lit walkway, I enjoyed the beautiful colors of the "butterfly garden" and the Christmas Village complete with elves and the big man himself. Nearby were lighted displays of an elephant and a lion and just around the corner I was thrilled to see beautiful free roaming flamingos being fed by the hands of delighted giggling children.

Built in the 1940's, Sarasota's Jungle Garden is one of the oldest attractions in the state with approximately 85% of the featured guests having been rescued or donated. During the day, visitors are greeted by rare and endangered exotic birds, reptiles, mammals and crocodiles on winding jungle trails covering 10 acres of lush tropical vegetation.

The Jungle Garden is a wonderful treat for young and old and one I intend to revisit often. Hopefully you will too!

Merry Christmas from Team Vitale

Submitted by Jan Petters

Saturday, December 10, 2011


The Sarasota real estate market has been steadily improving since the beginning of this year.  Our St. Armands Circle office is proud to have reached our goals consistently month after month, putting us in the "black" as an office for the first time in several years and moving us to the top in rankings of Coldwell Banker Offices.  As we close out 2011 and look ahead to 2012, we are once again optimistic about our market and look forward to a prosperous new year.

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The following are exerpts from the latest "Monthly Report" by the Sarasota Association of Realtors.  CLICK HERE  for the entire article including graphs and charts.

The months of inventory rose slightly to 7.1 months from 6.7 months for single family homes,
and dropped considerably for condos, to 9.7 months from September’s 11.1 months. Both figures
are close to a market in equilibrium between buyers and sellers, and again remained far below
the highs of 25.3 months for single family (in early 2009) and 41.7 months for condos (in late
2008). This statistic represents the time it would take to sell the existing inventory at the current
month’s rate of sales.

“There is no doubt that agents are reporting a very active marketplace, with many showings,
good foot traffic and high interest in Sarasota properties,” said SAR President Michael Bruno.
“The start of the season has been busy and productive, and we hope this trend continues in the
coming months.”