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Bar Tab: Sunset Terrace

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Bar Tab VW 1

The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall's new Sunset Terrace / COURTESY PHOTO

I’m a fan of Jerry Springer. I respect his presenter chops, dig his political activism and like that we both enjoy many of the same restaurants in his hometown of Sarasota. I have even watched, often slack jawed, “The Jerry Springer Show.”

My amazing wife Kristin is a fan of “The Price is Right.” Turns out, as a child, when she had days off from school, she would not only watch the “The Price is Right,” but play along. That’s right. She kept a notepad nearby and scribbled answers to the questions in hopes of winning imaginary prizes of her own.

So when we learned Springer would be hosting “The Price is Right Live!” Sunday at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall we were totally there. The phone interview I had with Springer – our second phoner in about as many years – led to a meet-and-greet invite, sweetening the deal.

Jerry Springer on hosting 'The Price is Right Live!' in hometown of Sarasota: interview

And then, get this, I learn the Van Wezel is in the midst of adding to its attractions a restaurant and bar, replete with new furniture and such on the freshly dubbed Sunset Terrace, which is adjacent to The Grand Foyer and overlooking Sarasota Bay. So, yeah, perfect reason for a Bar Tab column about the Van Wezel, right? But more on the actual bar stuff in a bit.

Bar Tab Wade Kristin Springer by Don Daly

Wade and Kristin Tatangelo with Jerry Springer / COURTESY PHOTO BY GREG KASPAR / DONDALYPHOTO.COM

First, let’s get the real journalism out of the way. In person, Springer is taller, skinnier, younger looking and even more charming than he is on TV. I kind of want to hate him. But I can’t, because I’m a professional and impervious to such petty emotions. Plus, there’s a pretty good chance Springer will read this and I don’t want him to be mad at me if we ever cross paths at some place on St. Armands Circle.

So, yeah, the meet and greet with Springer went great, so great, in fact, it called for a celebration. The Van Wezel’s Mary Bensel, executive director, and Julia Mays, director of marketing and development, escorted us through a bunch of secret passageways to the Sunset Terrace, which overlooks Sarasota Bay. It’s an excellent place to celebrate just about anything, including meeting Jerry Springer.

While drinking from my glass of “premium” pinot noir ($9) and taking the occasional sip from Kristin’s Stella Artois ($6), I admired the Sunset Terrace’s seven new shade sails, 12 new palm trees, and, most of all, the fire pit. OK, fire pits in Florida are not exactly essential amenities, but they are great fun to admire, especially while enjoying the wine, and I can’t think of many places in Sarasota that make for a better drinking setting than Van Wezel’s new showpiece.

Bar Tab VW 2In the near future, in fact, the Sunset Terrace will open on non-show days for lunch and cocktails with a menu created by Paul Mattison, chef and owner of the local restaurants that bear his name. “Right now folks can stop by on show days and have dinner or cocktails even if they are not attending the show, or enjoy the cocktail area with the high tops, the fire pit and couches and see the amazing sunsets,” Bensel says.

Kristin and I were impressed by the Sunset Terrace, and plan to return for cocktail hour, often, but on Sunday we were all about hearing those three magic words: “Come on down!” For reasons of journalistic integrity, I didn’t register to be a contestant on “The Price is Right Live!” but Kristin did, and she would have definitely won us that new car if only she had been chosen to storm the stage.

Oh well, we still had a blast watching Springer work his magic, and screaming like maniacs along with all the other, equally rowdy, attendees. Really, the night would’ve only improved if Springer would have joined us for drinks on the Sunset Terrace. Who knows? Maybe next time. Springer is also a patron of the Van Wezel.

SUNSET TERRACE AT VAN WEZEL PERFORMING ARTS HALL
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 953-3368; vanwezel.org.

SUNSET TERRACE AT VAN WEZEL PERFORMING ARTS HALL
Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota; 953-3368; vanwezel.org.

Wade_Tatangelo_by_Mike_Lang_HT_06212013 Wade Tatangelo created what would eventually be called Bar Tab while working as a correspondent for the Herald-Tribune in 2003. He would continue writing about bars for Maxim, Tampa Bay Times, Creative Loafing Tampa Bay, OC (Calif.) Weekly and The Fort Collins (Colo.) Coloradoan. Wade joined the Herald-Tribune as a staff writer in 2013 and has happily returned to writing our weekly column Bar Tab. He can be reached by email or call (941) 361-4955.
Last modified: November 20, 2013
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