Classic Sarasota hangout to get a reboot

  • 2

SARASOTA - An iconic piece of old Sarasota is getting new life. In the 1940's and 50's, the Smack burger drive-in was the place to hang out. And now, thanks to the owners of another popular spot, a similar experience will be enjoyed by a new generation.

Smack was the in place to gather in downtown Sarasota. "It was started back in 1933. It was downtown Sarasota…it was around until 1958, then it moved to Venice," says Gecko's Grill & Pub co-owner Michael Guillen.

It sat at the corner of what is now Main Street and Osprey Avenue. "I hear my father talk about it, and I hear a lot of older people in town talk about it as being the place to be in Sarasota back in the 40's and 50's. It was roller skates and drive-up, and it was the place to be seen on Friday night," says co-owner Mike Gowan.

It played a big role in people's lives. "A lot of our friends come up to us and say 'that's where my grandfather met my grandmother'," says Guillen.

And it was pretty famous for its food. "They were one of the largest sellers of ice cream and milkshakes in the southeast United States."

Now the owners of Gecko's are bringing back the memories. A modern version of the old Smack is going up at the corner of Bee Ridge Road and Shade Avenue. "We are going to turn an old brown field, where a gas station was for many years, into a Florida green building."

The name on the new Smack will be spelled differently - as S'macks -- and the new building will look different. "We are going to be doing an outside patio that will seat half the size the restaurant. The inside will seat 40 or 50, and the outside will seat the same. We're going to do a big metal roof out front that will look like the older diner that was back in the 40's and 50's," says Gowan.

No, there won't be any carhops on roller skates, but like the old Smack, it will feature burgers. "It's a very healthy burger. It's 100% beef, no hormones, no preservatives. We're also doing something unique to Sarasota is our custard shakes, which is egg-based milkshakes that is pure milkshake soft serve."

And like the old Smack, they intend to make it a community gathering place.

S'macks will open July 1st.