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Popular live music venue in Sarasota bows out

Written by on Tuesday, April 16, 2024

After a 10-year run, the owner of Café in the Park is headed for greener pastures.

By Arianna Lockman

Original Air Date: Apr. 12, 2024

Host: The Cafe in the Park had a special flair. The music was free, and toddlers and dogs were a big part of the Friday night crowds. But now, after a 10-year run, the Cafe in the Park is shutting down. Arianna Lockman has this report.

Arianna Lockman: After 10 years of business, a popular downtown Sarasota cafe is closing its doors for good. Located in Payne Park, Cafe in the Park has become a mainstay of the local music scene. However, on April 3, the owner posted an announcement of the cafe’s permanent closure on Facebook.

Owner Simone Steiff opened Café in the Park 10 years ago, and she quickly grew a reputation among the lunch crowd of nearby courts, police and law offices, as well as among weekend revelers and music lovers. The café not only offers gourmet sandwiches and a wide variety of beverages, but the indoor-outdoor location — in a city-owned park pavilion — also serves as a venue for live music.

The café’s signature Friday Night Music series featured an eclectic variety of local musicians.

Although the announcement for closure may come as a shock, Café in the Park’s Facebook post stresses that this ending was a happy one.

“We have adventures ahead, and while our hearts will be heavy, we are looking forward with joy and anticipation for the future. We have loved our years in Payne Park, being such a long-lasting and loved presence in the downtown Sarasota restaurant scene, and especially all of the people, bands, musicians, families and supporters who have been such a part of our lives and who have allowed us to be a part of theirs.”

This Friday evening, Café in the Park will host its final farewell Friday Night Music concert. Local musician Dean Johanesen will be the featured performer.

The free concert will take place from 7 to 9 pm. Although this will be the café’s final night of live music, the restaurant will remain open until April 26.

Reporting for WSLR News, this has been Arianna Lockman.


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