Jeffrey came to Sarasota when he was 25. Three years later, he is the manager of Louies Modern in Downtown Sarasota and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. Sitting across from him and his lovable canine companion Chauncey, he shared with us why walking is his preferred method of travel, where in the neighborhood he goes and what he loves about Louies Modern.
Q: What inspired your career in the restaurant business?
A: It was so random! Louies was only supposed to be temporary- I was transitioning from a job at a non-profit, and decided to get back into the service industry, which I had started in when I was 16. I fell in love with it. I fell in love with the owners and their vision and what they were doing. The opportunity presented itself for me to join Management, and I took it. I’ve been managing there for about 2.5 years, and I love it. I love going to work.
Q: What about your role do you love at Louies Modern?
A: To me, it’s knowing that I, my bartenders, my hosts, my wait staff make the experience for our guests enjoyable. People go out to Louies for a special occasion, it’s not dinner every night. We provide a special experience for everyone. We have seasonal guests who come with their families and say, “Jeff, we talk about you all the time! We love our experiences here because you always take care of us even though we’re seasonal.” It’s stuff like that that excites and fulfills me.
Q: What’s a Friday or Saturday night like?
A: It gets really hectic! But what calms that crazy is the importance of a good host, the importance of knowing the reservations and who’s coming in. So you can plan out the entire dining room and make sure everyone is happy. One night, I was up at the front hosting, which I love because I get so much guest interaction. I seated 432 people, the most that restaurant has ever had. And the most people had waited that night for a table was 5-10 minutes. It’s knowing the timing of when and where to put people sitting at 2- or 4-tops, the VIPs, everyone.
Q: What’s it like living in the Rosemary District, but working Downtown.
A: I can walk there! It’s a 10-minute walk from my house to Louies. In fact, it’s a 10-minute walk from my home to what I need. Everything is so centrally located. I get my dog groomed literally around the corner from my home. There’s Publix a few blocks down where I can walk to get my groceries, I can walk to the health center for check ups. If I didn’t work Downtown, I probably wouldn’t leave the neighborhood!
If I didn’t work Downtown, I probably wouldn’t leave the neighborhood!
Q: What inspired you to move to the Rosemary District?
A: I didn’t start in the Rosemary District. My mother invited me to come to Sarasota. But I moved to the Rosemary District because of what it offered and its location. I found [where I live now], saw the side yard, downtown, two-story townhome two-bed-two-bath? Absolutely! Where I live now, it’s right outside of Downtown, meaning it’s much quieter than some of these other streets. I can come home late at night and not hear the club music bouncing at 2-am. Also it’s so convenient how close everything is! It’s a 10-minute walk to work, it’s a 10-minute walk to the gym. You get city living with a suburb feel to it.
Q: What/where are your favorite places in the Rosemary District and/or Downtown?
A: Downtown, Epicure, for sure. If I get off work and they’re still open I’ll stop in for a cocktail. In Rosemary District, the Blue Apron Café. They’ve got great breakfast! Spicy quinoa, eggs, lots of options! There’s a cute outside seating area to eat. There’s also Lolita. They’re French, and have got great food. If you’re looking for nightlife in Rosemary District, on 10th and Cocoanut there’s Starlite. They’ve got a restaurant on the first floor, and a dance floor on the second.
Q: What improvements are you looking forward to for the RD?
A: It’s up-and-coming! They’re doing so many things with places like Risdon on 5th and Cityside Apartments. These places are improving the neighborhood tremendously. I feel like they’re turning Rosemary District into a new subculture of Downtown.
Q: Can you expand on the subculture?
A: It’s a younger demographic moving in here. Every person I see walking and exploring the Rosemary District is younger than 35. I mean Downtown is still young, but they’re older. I feel like those moving into the Rosemary District are the young, 30-something professionals who want the Downtown lifestyle but don’t want to pay the price for it.
Q: What are your hopes for the future of the neighborhood?
A: I’m hoping for the Rosemary District to expand to its full potential. Some things right now don’t really allow for that. But I feel like what’s happening right now with Risdon and the other residences being built will help to bring in new types of people that will help it to grow to become a mini-Downtown.
Q: What are you excited about for the future of Louies as RD grows?
A: The expansion of the area. There are somewhere like 19 new high-rises going up by the beach, and then 14 coming up just in the downtown area! Knowing what’s going on in the city and where things are going, we can plan for the future. With all of this expansion, we know that within say one or two years this is going to be a full-season town! It’s going to be full of visitors.
We got the chance to chat with Chauncey, Jeffrey’s beloved Chihuahua companion, and asked her about life in the Rosemary District.
Q: How did you meet?
A: The Humane Society of Sarasota! I didn’t really get along with the others, so I got my own space. On my 6th birthday, Jeffrey came in, and all the ladies swore we’d get along. He came up and I couldn’t help myself- I jumped right into his lap. It was love at first sight! I’ve been living the life ever since.
Q: How is life now?
A: The past seven months have been amazing! We go everywhere together. Jeffrey walks me sometimes, but usually I travel in style: in Jeffrey’s cross-body bag. We go to places like the Farmers Market, to Happy Hour, out to dinner. Sometimes I hang out with the workers at the gym. But my favorite places are Payne Park and Downtown. It’s got so much energy! I meet so many people and other dogs, it’s just an exciting place to be.
Q: Jeffrey mentioned your picture was up at the Starlite— what’s up with that?
A: Jeffrey’s friend Brian Craft needed to cast for Bruiser, Elle Woods’ dog in Legally Blonde. Jeffrey took me in to meet everyone, and I fell in love with the cast. I definitely got the part. Now I’ve got my own Facebook and Instagram to keep in touch with my fans.
Q: What do you think of living in the Rosemary District?
A: I love it! I can run around, I can play. It’s safe! I’ve never had an issue anywhere I went- even at restaurants. I like everyone here, and I know everyone here. This place is much more dog friendly than I could have imagined.
Rosemary District is one of Florida’s most distinct and vibrant communities. A walkable community on the rise with boutique shops, one of a kind restaurants, art galleries and creative personalities.