Monday, January 14, 2019

Out with Old...in with the New!


Happy New Year! 

The New Year is often a natural time for reflection. One way or another, January is the time for assessment and sorting things out in several ways and with good intentions. Out with the old, in with the new. The phrase literally means to MOVE FORWARD...The phrase suggests that in order to move forward, one must purge, remove or let go of one thing, with the expectation of gaining something else. Not necessarily. When it comes to memories, I prefer to hold on to mine as I embrace all the new stuff around me. This can refer to physical objects. It can also apply to relationships, mindsets…and even the town where you grew up.

If you've spent any time with me, there is a possibility that I have said things such as, "I remember when none of these buildings were here”, or “this used to be a dirt road.” It can be interesting to hear stories about how my hometown used to look, and how things used to be, and I like to believe that the pictures I paint in my head of Sarasota back in my childhood, and then share with you, are accurate. I think that this is probably something most people go through who have lived in the same town for a lifetime. Sometimes you have to let go of the old while keeping the memories and embrace the new. Change can be good. And Sarasota certainly has changed! From the Sarasota Herald Tribune: "Dozens of projects, some cresting to the maximum 18 stories, are permanently changing the appearance of the city in a post-recession surge of building sparked by pent-up demand and unbridled confidence in the future". And then there is Lakewood Ranch and the many developments east of Sarasota that I couldn't have even imagined when I was a youngster in Sarasota. 

Many of my days selling Real Estate are spent driving around Sarasota, my hometown. Driving past an area that used to be a baseball field when I was a kid or noticing trees have been cleared off in cow pastures or orange groves and new homes are going up still surprises me sometimes. New roads have been built and old homes torn down, buildings have been revamped or are occupied by new businesses, people have moved, construction is going crazy and new paint is drying everywhere. As I reflect on all of this, I am struck that back in the day, Sarasota was paradise and today…it still is!  Every time I drive across the Ringling Causeway from St. Armand's I am stunned by the city view and how beautiful (and different from the old days) it is! To paraphrase the famous Sarasota author, John D. MacDonald: A person living in Sarasota for a long time, looks around and sees a larger, busier place that is all grown up from their first memories; The person just arriving from the urban northeast sees a brand new paradise of warm weather, sandy white beaches and beautiful sunsets. I don't take living in this paradise for granted - ever! So if you are looking to buy a home and share my paradise, call me! You will love it here!





Thursday, December 27, 2018

Happy Holidays!




Another season settles softly like the white sandy beaches of Sarasota and reminds us that the goodness of humanity flourishes. The gestures of the holidays exist in sounds and images that stir our hearts.

As the spirit of the holiday fills your days, we wish for peace on earth through small steps toward a better tomorrow for everyone.

May you find PEACE this holiday season and into the New Year!


Ron, Liz & Tiki



Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I Am Thankful!


My wife Liz and I were enjoying another beautiful sunset over the lake from our lanai and commenting on the many things we are thankful for. We started making a list that continues to grow!
  • Good Health - Even if you’re health isn’t great, it could be worse and you likely still have some working parts to be thankful for.
  • Money in the Bank - Having just a few coins makes you richer than most people on Earth.
  • Good Friends – Most of the time, it’s the quality of friendships, not the quantity. Cherish your friends.
  • Having a Partner - Being in a loving relationship can teach you so much about the world and yourself.
  • Pets – Our dog Tiki is one of the best examples of unconditional love ever!
  • Education - The opportunity to attend school is something many people don’t have. I am lucky that I got to go to college and continued my education in the U.S. Air Force, which brings me to what the United States and our troops still fight for:
  • Freedom - The power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint. The absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government. The the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved. Much of the world has not experienced this.
  • Books and the Ability to Read - if you’re reading this right now, you have a lot to be thankful for. Books provide an opportunity to enter another world all from the comfort of your own home. 774 million people in the world cannot read. Go grab a good book!
  • Laughter - Without laughter, the world would be such a sad place. 
  • Sunshine - The sun’s warmth can brighten any day and I am thankful to live in The Sunshine State!
  • Time - Although we often don’t think there’s enough of it, time is something we shouldn’t take for granted.
  • Freedom of Speech - Being able to express your thoughts and feelings freely should never be taken for granted.
  • Mentors - I have had many mentors in my life and especially these past 10 years as a Realtor. You know who you are.
  • Wisdom that Comes with Age - Thankfully, we grow smarter over time. I hope this means I’m pretty smart!
  • The Beach - Our beautiful beaches in Sarasota provide us with beauty and recreation all year long.
  • Sunsets - Sunsets are a reminder that we should enjoy the simple things in life and in Sarasota, the sunset is always a beautiful event.
  • My Mind - Being able to think, remember, and solve problems sure makes life easier. I am grateful my mind is still working just fine!
  • Career - I am fortunate to have had many careers throughout my life and I have loved them all. 
  • Moon and Stars -  My wife and I are always looking up at the sky and remarking what a miracle it is that this...and we...exist at all. The moon and stars encourage us to dream.
  • Air Conditioning - Staying cool on a hot day is something people wouldn’t have dreamed about in past centuries. I grew up in Sarasota without it as a child, but I sure appreciate it now!
  • Ability to Learn - The ability to learn new things means we have endless potential. I am always looking to learn new things and constantly re-educating myself. We should never stop learning.
  • People Willing to Teach - Whether it’s your dad teaching you to build a house as mine did or my years of teaching computer classes, be grateful that others are willing to use their time and talents to teach you something new.
  • Modern Medicine - Without advances in modern medicine, many of us wouldn’t be alive. In Sarasota we have access to one of the finest medical communities.
  • Music - Music brings out emotions, memories and joy...pop those earbuds in your ears or go to the many music venues in Sarasota!
  • An Internet Connection – It’s easy it is to take the internet for granted, seeing how none of us had just a couple of decades ago. I was on the cutting edge of technology all those many years ago and it still amazes me.
  • Challenges - Without challenges in life, we wouldn’t be the people we are now. When I started in Real Estate in 2008...the year the bottom dropped out of the market, it was rough. But it made me a better Realtor and I have been successful for more than 10 years in a business I love.
  • Growing up in Sarasota - I can't imagine a better place than Sarasota to call my Hometown! We have it all...great weather, the #1 Beach on Siesta Key, a wonderful local art community along with the Ringling Museum, the Ringling College of Art and Design, the Asolo
  • Having a Home - Whether you live in an apartment, a condo, a mansion, or a tent in Myakka State Park, having a place to call home is something to be thankful for. Not to mention a home in paradise - Liz and I are grateful everyday that we live here. (And if you are looking to buy a home in Sarasota, I’m your guy!)
Liz and I wish you and your family a wonderful Thanksgiving! We are grateful for you - our friends, clients, family, mentors and teachers and we cherish you!


Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Let's Eat!


Who doesn’t love going out to eat? My wife and I try to eat with health in mind…most of the time…and there are many restaurants in Sarasota these days that offer healthy options. But that wasn’t always the case, nor did we care when we were dating and having fun back when we were in our twenties and thirties. We have many happy memories of ‘pigging out’ in those days and sadly, many of those mom and pop places are closed.

In the 1960’s and 70’s, Sarasota did not have the plethora of restaurants we see now – there are so many great choices. But back then, we had more than enough to satisfy us and enjoy. Of course we had our favorites for a night out, to celebrate a special occasion, or just have a quick drink with friends on the way home from work.

According to a Jeff LaHurd’s article in the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Spanish cuisine was one of the first ethnic foods served here. One of my favorites, The Plaza Restaurant on 1st First Street, opened in 1928 after the real estate crash and prior to the Great Depression, and somehow managed to grow and prosper, remaining one of Sarasota’s signature establishments until 1974. The last meal was served on Aug. 24, 1974 and I was so sorry to see it close. Still serving fine Spanish food and remaining one of the most popular and longest-lived restaurants is the Columbia on St. Armand’s Circle. Founded in Tampa in 1905, the Sarasota operation has been pleasing locals and tourists since 1959.

I lived in the North Trail area near the Ringling Museum and the go-to special place for me and my family was Zinn’s, another long-lived restaurant that became a local institution. Opened after World War II by “Mama” and “Papa” Zinn, the restaurant served chicken, fish, steaks and salads. A king-size Australian lobster tail was offered for $6.95 with salad, vegetables and beverage; the charbroiled steak — so large it was called “Mr. Sirloin” — was also $6.95. And my favorite, homemade pie a la mode, was 50 cents. With its beautiful waterfall room and outside fountain and rock garden, Zinn’s was a popular spot, and the food was good enough to keep it on the Florida list of top 100 restaurants.

Also on the North Trail was  the Mel-O-Dee, Ranch House and the The Golden Buddha, with its large, trademark golden colored statue, was the first place, if not the House of Chong, many of us locals tasted Chinese cooking. But my all-time favorite was The Broadway Bar. Established in 1925, The Broadway Bar was an iconic early Sarasota bar and pizza joint, known for potent drinks and thin-crust pizza at its location on Tamiami Trail near Van Wezel. The iconic restaurant’s location was sold to make way for the Broadway Promenade development and, after several years, the Broadway Bar relocated to a new building on Cocoanut Avenue. The Broadway finally closed last year, replaced by The Starlite Room. 

As for south Sarasota, El Adobe was IT! I helped build the bar way back when and was paid by what came
across the bar in the form of a cold one…lots of them! When planning for my wife’s 60 birthday, and since it was a 'special one' I told her we could go anywhere she wished…and she picked El Adobe! After 40 years of serving Mexican cuisine on Tamiami Trail, beloved restaurant El Adobe closed its doors. I still miss the best warm, thin corn chips, salsa and enchiladas ever!

There were so many more back then: Smitty's, The Oyster Bar, Morrison's, The Crown House, The Buccaneer, Magic Moment...lots of good food and good times!

The good news now is that Sarasota is teaming with lots of really great restaurants…it’s almost overwhelming! The next time you are planning to go out to eat, check out this link: https://www.opentable.com/features/fun-restaurants-sarasota-fl  And if you have friends or relatives looking to buy a home in the Sarasota, Florida area, please give them my name and after we house-hunt, we have plenty of great choices to have a toast and a great meal!




Sources and Credits: The Sarasota Herald Tribune, Jeff LaHurd, Photo collage by: srqwhatitusedtobe.blogspot.com



Monday, September 17, 2018

On Time!


You can get almost anywhere in the world starting from the Sarasota–Bradenton International Airport. Most of you have probably landed at our airport a time or two. I love this airport, especially knowing how crazy it can be getting to the Tampa airport or any other large airport around the country. The airport here is so very nice and easy and modern. My wife Liz and I remember when it was very different…but still very nice. 

When we were kids flying back from somewhere into Sarasota, the plane landed and off-loaded passengers who were always well-dressed…our dads like the other men, were in suits and ties and the ladies were in dresses, heals and hats, looking very stylish. These days it seems most people practically travel in their PJ’s! When the door to the plane opened back then, we did not walk through a ‘cattle shoot' directly into the building…we walked down the steps, across the tarmac and into a simple building. Those who were meeting in-coming passengers were waiting right there behind a fence lining the tarmac. The Sarasota-Bradenton Airport now is quite different and has a rich history.

In January 1946 our airport was the Sarasota Army Air Field and was deactivated and opened to civilian use as the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport. Liz’s dad was in the Army back then and told us stories about coming down to Sarasota from MacDill in Tampa during his time in the service and ‘borrowing furniture’ that remained from the old Quonset huts at the airport after the base closed! National Airlines, which had provided sporadic service to the old municipal airport in the late 1930s and resumed service next to the military base in 1944, moved into a building vacated by the Air Corps. 

Transformation to civilian status became more visible with the construction of a new control tower in 1957, a terminal in 1959, and the removal of old military buildings. Although commercial airline service began as early as 1940 at Sarasota Bradenton Airport, it was not until 1965 that jet service was first provided to the area by National Airlines. Eastern Airlines began commercial service in 1961. 

My fondest memory of the old airport was also a ‘teaching moment’ in my life. I was a paperboy when I was a teenager. I lived near the Ringling Museum and one of the wealthy residents on my paper route who lived near next door to the Ca d'Zan (The Ringling mansion), was a pilot and owned a small airplane. One day he invited me to join him on an early morning flight around Sarasota and offered to teach me to fly if I was interested. We set it up…and I forgot all about it. By the time I remembered, it was too late and he never asked me again. To this day, I have never been late for anything!

Sadly, there is another memory we will never forget. Air Force One delivered President George W. Bush to our airport on September 10, 2001 for a 9/11 visit to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School. He was listening to the children read when terrorists struck the World Trade Center. He flew out that day, some say Air Force One took off from the taxiway, not even waiting to get on the tarmac. No, we will never forget.

Today, we have a world class international airport – a new tower was just dedicated recently and our airport remains a pleasure to travel to and from our beautiful city. Many thousands of people have traveled here to paradise for the first time…and they decide they want to stay and live in my beautiful hometown. I don’t blame them! So if you have friends or family who are thinking of buying a home in Sarasota, please give them my name and together we will find their dream home! I will even pick them up from the Sarasota Bradenton International Airport – and I will be ON TIME!

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Excellence In Caring


My wife Liz and I recently accompanied a friend who had out-patient surgery at Sarasota Memorial Hospital and while waiting, we thought back to all the changes we have witnessed over the last 50 years. 
Liz was a ‘Candy Striper’ volunteer as a teenager and this experience helped to shape her career choices. I remember visiting SMH as a kid with a friend whose mom was executive secretary to the director. 

Back then the hospital was much smaller but as kids, it seemed huge to us! Liz and I remember it when there were only five stories. It has grown so much that they now have volunteers just to help you find your way!
From modest beginnings in 1925 as a 32 bed hospital to the teaching hospital and vast network of specialty care it offers today, Sarasota Memorial Health Hospital has come a long way since I was a kid. Sarasota Memorial Health Care System is the second-largest acute care public health system in Florida, with about 5,000 staff, 900+ physicians, 600 volunteers and about 500,000 ER, inpatient and outpatient visits a year. With an 806-bed acute care hospital and comprehensive network of outpatient services – pain care, rehabilitation, diagnostic imaging and laboratory, home health and a nursing home among its many services. It is the only hospital in Southwest Florida that has ranked repeatedly among U.S. News & World Report’s “America’s Best Hospitals,” the only one recognized among “America’s Safest Large Hospitals” by Forbes and the only one awarded Magnet Nursing Services Recognition – the nation’s highest honor for excellence in nursing.
Over the years, we have watched all the additions, demolitions and growth – we lost some of our favorite restaurants along US 41 as the complex grew, (Sugar and Spice Amish restaurant was great!) but it was well worth it to know we now have one of the best health care systems available right here in Sarasota. And the expansion is not over yet! By 2020, Sarasota Memorial Hospital hopes to have a new $220 million cancer treatment facility and a $12 million parking garage built at its midtown campus.
If you are considering moving to Sarasota, Florida, rest assured you will have fantastic health care - from the best doctors and the BEST hospital. And when you are ready to buy that home in the Sarasota area, call me and I will tell you some stories of growing up in a great town!

Monday, July 30, 2018

Shop Till you Drop!


My wife Liz and I have enjoyed a lot of great lunches and dinners at Connor’s Steakhouse lately and going to Cinebistro at the newly remodeled Westfield Siesta Key Mall. Looking back at growing up in Sarasota, I continue to be amazed at the evolution of shopping in my hometown. When I was a kid, there were no malls. We had lots of mom and pop stores and small strip centers and a few of the big name stores like Woolworth's and Winn Dixie. The shopping center Liz and I remember the most is Southgate Plaza, now the Westfield Siesta Key Mall on the corner of Siesta Drive and 41. 

The original Southgate shopping center opened in 1956 as a strip mall and included two supermarkets - Publix and Winn Dixie, along with a W. T. Grant and Woolworth’s, Rexall Drugs, a hardware store and a few other small stores. Liz grew up in Southgate and went to Brookside Jr. High School, which was just behind the shopping center and remembers sneaking into the bowling alley that was located there after school with her friends to play pinball. This was a no-no. J. C. Penney was added as part of an expansion in 1961, along with a Kwik Chek grocery store.

W. T. Grant closed its store in 1976, which was then sold to Burdine's. A J. W. Robinson's department store replaced the former J. C. Penney in 1978, after J. C. Penney moved to Sarasota Square Mall, now Westfield Sarasota Square. The Southgate Shopping Center was enclosed in 1988. In 1994, Publix moved to a larger store across the street. The old Publix building became Saks Fifth Avenue in 1996. Following the opening of Saks, the mall was renovated to include more upscale stores such as Williams-Sonoma, and Ann Taylor.

Whew...so many changes! And it wasn’t over yet. Westfield Group bought the mall in 2002, renaming it Westfield Shoppingtown Southgate. Burdine's became Macy's in 2005 and he "Shoppingtown" was dropped on June 2005. On June 1, 2017 the mall was renamed to Westfield Siesta Key. Dillard's closed their doors at Southgate soon after, consolidating into their newer University Town Center. In late 2014, Cobb Theatres announced it would take over the Saks space for a "Cinebistro". Saks eventually moved to The Mall at University Town Center. Also, there is Connor's Steak and Seafood, Bravo Coastal Bar and Kitchen, along with Metro Diner and Luckey’s Market and LA Fitness and more! 

Our simple little Southgate Shopping Center is nothing like we remember, but it’s still fun to go there and we will always have our happy memories of going to Woolworth's!





Sources and Credits: Wikpedia, The Mall Hall of Fame, Sarasota Herald Tribune