Sarasota businesses look to revitalize east side of Main Street

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Posted: Friday, February 28, 2014 5:41 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Main Street, in the heart of downtown Sarasota, is known for its numerous restaurants and retail options. Travel down Main at most times of the day and you’ll find it full of locals and visitors -- on the west side, at least. The east side? Not so much.

"I've been in this area for pretty much my whole life and it always seems like this side's been a little bit slower than the other side of Main Street," says Sarasota resident Ryan Chapman.

Business owners agree, and they’re taking the initiative to revive the east side and make it an entertainment destination.

Bruce Silverberg is the Operations VP at Main Street Graphics, one of nearly half a dozen businesses that have joined forces to form the East End District Group.

"This part of Main Street has always been the stepchild to the west part of Main Street. [the west side] usually gets the majority of the people," he says.

Nearly 2 months ago the group began meeting at Eat Here in downtown to brainstorm ideas. Some discussed improvements include adding directories along Main, along with more lights, signage and even a circulator to transport people throughout downtown in a one mile radius.

Locals say this side of Main Street has been lacking entertainment for years.

"They need to liven it up a little, get some more things going so we have more things to do," says Sarasota resident Lisa Dawkins.

The popular McCurdy's Comedy Club is slated to open on the east end on Ringling Blvd., along with Ker's Winghouse on Main. The East End District and locals see the potential growth.

"We all just kind of want to feed off each other, you know,” says Mark Woodruff, executive chef and owner at Made. “Come here have dinner, go to Evie's have a drink, go watch a show at the comedy club, wind down at their bar, then go back to Evie's, then come back over here for a late night cocktail. We all just kind of want to intertwine and work together as a team at the east end."

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