SARASOTA, Fla., — Bijou Garden Café, an iconic downtown restaurant offering fine dining with an intimate and inviting ambiance in the heart of Sarasota’s theatre and arts district since 1986, recently announced a reopening date of Nov. 16 after being closed for three months due to renovations.
In early 2021, Sharon Carole, owner of The Realm Restaurant Group, purchased Bijou Garden Café from owner and chef J.P. Knaggs. The original building was built in the 1920s and served as a gas station before transforming into a restaurant in 1986, and has remained a popular option for theatergoers and arts patrons for a pre-show meal.
New owner Sharon Carole began extensive renovations and restorations to the building in September, including the removal of several walls to create a more open space, the relocation and restoration of the classic bar, the addition of garden views from every table and bringing in a new baby grand piano, among other updates.
“This building has so much charm and character,” said Sharon Carole. “As we’ve renovated the space, it’s been important to me that we respect its iconic local history. I’m looking forward to seeing the restaurant really come alive with its changes, while still remaining a cherished part of the community.”
Once open, the restaurant will feature some refreshed menu items as well. In addition to some of the classic favorites from the Bijou Garden Café’s previous menu, such as Shrimp Piri Piri, Escargot Bourguignonne and Potato Au Gratin, Christopher Covelli, executive chef at Bijou Garden Café, is implementing new menu items inspired by the garden with more greens, vegetarian and vegan options.
“The menu has a French and Californian influence that will very much match the setting of the building,” said Chef Chris. “We used many of J.P. Knaggs’ original recipes and while they’ve changed over the years as different chefs have evolved them, we believe people will really enjoy the authenticity and comfort they bring.”
Longtime guests of the restaurant will recognize a majority of the returning staff, including Jeffrey Knaggs, son of J.P. Knaggs, who was recently promoted to facilities manager.
“As the restaurant continues to evolve, I am proud and honored to be working in this new role at Bijou Garden Café,” said Knaggs. “It is a wonderful feeling to work with an amazing group of people who care about the business just as much as my family did.”
The restaurant seats 134 people with indoor and outdoor dining, and is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 – 10 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 5 – 11 p.m. To make a reservation, visit BijouGardenCafe.com or call 941-366-8111.
About Bijou Garden Café
Located at 1287 First Street, Bijou Garden Café has offered fine dining with an intimate and inviting ambiance in the heart of Sarasota’s theatre and arts district since 1986. The seasonally inspired menu offers diners a mix of French and Californian cuisine. The 134 seat restaurant encompasses multiple dining areas, including two charming courtyards for dining al fresco. Situated in a beautifully-restored 1920s era gas station, guests here enjoy a joie de vivre, or “enjoyment of life,” in the restaurant with a commitment to passionate service by the staff and a continued culinary legacy of excellence. For more information, visit bijougardencafe.com.
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