Let's Eat, Englewood!

September 16, 2020 at 3:14 p.m.
Let's Eat, Englewood!
Let's Eat, Englewood!

By Sharyn Lonsdale

To say Deb Watt looks forward to Let’s Eat!, Englewood!, is an understatement. Watt, who lives in Rotonda West, said she has been checking in for weeks waiting for the list of participating restaurants, and is excited to visit some of her favorites and new places. Watt said she even scheduled minor surgery around the Let’s Eat! dates. “Sometimes I have lunch and dinner at the same day. I go by myself or with friends,” said Watt. This year she’s not only looking for “good deals and good food,” but also restaurants that are less crowded with attention to social distancing. Even with those concerns, Watt plans to dine out “at least seven times” during the two-week event.

This is the sixth year for Let’s Eat, Englewood!, where diners can enjoy a special menu offering two-course lunches for $13 and three-course dinners for $26 at the 26 participating Chamber restaurants. Let’s Eat! Runs from September 17 to October 1, and restaurants can elect to extend the special menu beyond that date. Several restaurants also throw in a “bonus course” for example a glass of wine at dinner or dessert at lunch. 

Kim Parks, interim executive director of the Englewood Florida Chamber of Commerce, is counting on diners like Deb Watt to make this year’s restaurant promotion a success. Last year Let’s Eat! generated an estimated $120,000 to the participating restaurants, said Parks. “We have a record number of restaurants this year and the support is more important than ever. It’s a great way to highlight our restaurants and to remind people that Englewood is a culinary destination.”

This year diners can enjoy everything from ice cream and salads to surf n’ turf or sushi all over the area from Ephesus Mediteranian Grill in Gulf Cove to Boca Royale Golf & Country Club in North Englewood. There are perennial favorites like Nicola’s Italian Kitchen, Howard’s and Farlow’s on the Water and brand new eateries including Ken and Barb’s Grove City Kitchen and Texas Best Barbecue. Participating restaurants and menus are available at the Chamber website.

Marie LaForge, co-owner of Mango Bistro, is one of the co-founders of Let’s Eat! She said this year Mango Bistro will offer its special menu for dine-in, as well as for take-out and delivery for people who are still wary of venturing out 

“Let’s Eat is definitely important as all of us have had a very tough year, trying to stay afloat while keeping our staff and customers safe,” said Laforge. “I think this year more than ever, people are looking forward to it. It is something exciting going on when so many events have been cancelled.” Laforge said Mango is offering new plant-based dishes and house-made cold-pressed juice to its Let’s Eat! Menu. Many other restaurants also create brand new entrees for Let’s Eat, some which will make it to the year-round menu.

In past years the Chamber has announced Let’s Eat with splashy videos, a media event and even a guest appearance by a Food Network personality. Past sponsor Sysco West Florida is back, but with fewer promotional dollars available due to the tourism hit from the COVID crisis, Brian Faro, President-Elect of the Chamber’s Board of Directors, suggested something new. For $250 a business or individual could sponsor a restaurant’s menu, adding money to the campaign’s budget. Faro, a big champion of the event, is sponsoring the menu at Lock ‘n Key and gets his own entree, “The Brian Faro Burger, AKA the Triple Threat, a burger topped with lobster wrapped in bacon and Swiss cheese, served with fries. 

“I’m known by my friends and family for not eating vegetables and my love for bacon,” said Faro. “This basically hits all my main food groups.” Faro said he can’t wait to try his namesake burger, but he’s got a rival. Down Beach Road, at the Sandbar Tiki Bar & Grill, sister restaurant to Lock ‘n Key, diners will find Jonathan Varner’s Brisket Burnt End Sandwich, named for the Chamber Board’s president.

No matter whose sandwich you favor, Faro encourages diners from all over the area to visit Englewood the next two weeks. “Our community and restaurants had a tough season, with COVID, and I feel this is a great opportunity for us to try some new foods and support them,” said Faro. “ Let’s show them some love!”