Laura Finaldi

Sarasota Herald-Tribune

No matter how packed Sarasota’s University Town Center gets, there always seems to be room for a new shop or an expansion of an existing local property.

Benderson Development Co. — creator of the 4 million-square-foot commercial/office/eventually residential property west of Interstate  75 along University Parkway in both Sarasota and Manatee counties — has a slew of new tenants for UTC, including retail stores, restaurants and a second location of one established Sarasota name. 

Here’s everything you need to know about what’s coming to the fastest-growing shopping district on both sides of University Parkway.

WHAT: New restaurants and retail stores are coming to University Town Center.

WHY: As long as there’s population growth and room to build at UTC, you can bet Benderson will find a way to fill it. The company has existing relationships with some of the biggest names in retail — Target, Ulta Beauty, TJX Cos. and the Fresh Market, just to name a few — and seems able to entice local tenants to expand their operations (Selva Grill and Five-O Donut Co. are just two examples). Since UTC has high visibility from I-75, Benderson likely doesn’t have to work too hard to convince business owners it’s a lucrative place to be – if you can afford it, that is. 

WHO: Let’s start with what’s new. First, there’s Post Kitchen & Bar, a new concept from the owner of Sarasota Greek eatery Apollonia Grill. Unlike Apollonia, Post is a modern American bistro with a raw bar, fresh seafood, steaks, salads and an extensive wine and craft cocktail list. It’s opening across from Apollonia in a 4,400-square-foot space in the Shoppes at University Town Center. 

There’s also a new location of Paradise Grills, which already sells luxury outdoor kitchens, patio furniture and, of course, grills at 7668 S. Tamiami Trail in Sarasota. A new Paradise Grills site will open at UTC on the south side of DeSoto Road. Nearby will be infrared and red light therapy center Perspire Sauna Studio. Both businesses will open this summer. 

WHO ELSE: Elysian Fields, which currently has a store in Sarasota’s Midtown Plaza at Bahia Vista Street and Tamiami Trail, is expanding to UTC. The shop, owned by Tony and Ruta Gillette, will open a new 3,000-square-foot location in the Shoppes, the same plaza at Post Kitchen. Benderson describes Elysian Fields in a press release as a “locally-owned book and gift boutique for conscious living.” It could also be called a metaphysical store, where you can buy crystals, decks of tarot cards and get psychic readings.

Merchandise at Elysian Fields in Sarasota during the 2021 holiday season.


EXCUSE ME, I’D LIKE TO KNOW ABOUT THE FOOD: Anna Maria Oyster Bar, the popular Manatee County eatery owned by John Horne, is bringing a new 4,700-square-foot location to UTC near Oak & Stone. 3Natives Acai and Juicery, a fast-casual spot for cold-pressed juices, acai bowls and the like is joining the West District at UTC, on the west side of North Cattlemen Road, and so is Al Forno De Libano, a Lebanese-inspired restaurant with shawarma, falafel, kebabs and more. 

And then there are others previously reported, like Yard House, Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar and Kelly’s Roast Beef. Yard House, which has a big menu and more than 100 beers on tap, will open at University Parkway and Cattlemen Road in early 2023. Mexican eatery Rocco’s will serve its fresh guacamole, tacos and flurry of margarita options out of a 4,500-square-foot location with indoor and outdoor seating when it opens in November. And Kelly’s Roast Beef will also open in November, but it’s got more than roast beef — it also sells fried clams, fish and chips and lobster rolls, just like any good Boston-area beachside eatery. 

If you’ve never been to Yard House, their schtick is beers in glasses that are literally a yard long. 

Rocco’s has several locations around Florida, including in Tampa, Naples, Orlando, West Palm Beach and more.


WHAT ELSE? Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine is moving a few doors down in the Shoppes at UTC into a bigger space. Be on the lookout for Christmas Tree Shops opening later this year between Golf Galaxy and DSW in the West District. And as a reminder, UTC’s newest tenants are Crumbl Cookies, Five-O Donut Co.Jersey Girl Bagels, Gifts & More at The Paper Store, Board & Brush Creative Studio, 5.11 Tactical and PopStroke