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Arts & Central, the Rosemary District’s Newest Restaurant, Will Open Feb. 19

Since its earliest phases last year, Sarasota residents have been wondering about the construction at the corner of Boulevard of the Arts and Central Avenue in the Rosemary District. The entire property, called Parkside, is rolling out food-and-beverage-based business openings throughout 2024, and on Feb. 19, its 6,200-square-foot anchor restaurant, Arts & Central, will open.

The restaurant’s owners, Dan Henson Jr. and his father, Dan Henson Sr., are both new to the hospitality industry but say they’ve always dreamed of opening their own restaurant.

“It’s always been our hot tub conversation over chardonnay,” says Henson Jr. “No matter what we’re talking about, it always leads back to opening a restaurant.”

“During Covid, my parents took a road trip out to Sonoma in an RV,” he continues. “While there, they fell in love with upscale restaurants with a casual vibe. So we set out to have elevated dishes that are still familiar. We installed wood everywhere, so it feels homey and cozy. We’re trying to give people a nice neighborhood location that they’ll want to come back to.”

The menu offerings pull flavors from around the globe, with items like “sticky rib fingers” made with ginger and sesame, “crab puppies” spiced with jalapeño, and whipped feta finished with fermented honey, sourced from Sarasota Honey Co.

Chef Erik Walker will lead the culinary team. He’s cooked in Sarasota for several established restaurants.

“We started with the concept that Dan Jr. and his dad brought forth—a lot of things that you might make [at home],” Walker says. “We’re trying to pull from some childhood nostalgia while avoiding dishes that are obscure.”

The restaurant will open beginning at 11 a.m. daily. For lunch, guests can select from dishes like a rosemary grilled cheese, burgers, and a fruit salad with an unusual name—“Dirty Rotten Fruit Basket”—made with kimchi mascarpone and quinoa.

For dinner, menu items include brisket, a bone-in pork chop and a “Healthy Harvest Bowl”—Walker’s favorite menu item.

“It features tempeh we get from Georgia,” Walker says. “It’s the healthiest thing on the menu. The ingredients speak to not only Sarasota, but me personally. We’re all always trying to get our cholesterol under control and increasing omega-3 and fiber.”

Arts & Central will seat 200 guests and includes a sizable bar area for happy hour and late-night bites, as well as a 12-person private dining room for special chef tastings.

And while the Hensons may be new to the restaurant game, they understand the rewards that come from a hard day’s work.

“If you do it right, it’s a fun way to spend your career,” says Henson Jr. “There is always a lot to look forward to. It’s worth all of the elbow grease in the end.”

Arts & Central will open Feb. 19 at 11 a.m. It will be open Sunday-Wednesday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. at 611 Central Ave., Sarasota. For more information call (941) 306-2356

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