Golden Apple Dinner Theatre evicted from its Sarasota home

Long-running Sarasota company locked from premises

wtatangelo@bradenton.comSeptember 11, 2012 

SARASOTA -- After four decades of entertaining audiences in downtown Sarasota, the Golden Apple Dinner Theatre had an eviction notice on its door Monday.

"Court order for eviction has been completed," it read. "Locks have been changed."

The Golden Apple was evicted over failure to pay rent, according to court documents.

"They have been locked from the premises," Mark Lord, attorney for the Golden Apple, told the Herald around 5 p.m. Monday. "But

my understanding is that there is a potential deal being discussed."

Lord maintained that the Golden Apple had failed to pay only a part of August's rent.

"I was surprised when the Turoffs were told to leave," Lord said.

Former Broadway actress Roberta MacDonald and husband Robert Turoff opened the Golden Apple on Dec. 11, 1971.

"We're the longest running, continuously operating, professional dinner theatre in the country," MacDonald told the Herald last February.

That same month, the Golden Apple sold its property for $1.746 million to Golden Coast of Sarasota LLC.

Golden Coast leased the building to the Golden Apple for five years.

The Golden Apple also had hoped to open a theater in Lakewood Ranch and met with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch Inc. in February 2011.

Approached by San Marco Plaza developers in 2004, MacDonald and Turoff were given a deal to open a dinner theater that would be the anchor property in the commercial center.

Turoff paid about $80 per square foot, or $750,000, in 2007, for a shell with a dirt floor.

The purchase came right about the same time the recession started.

SMR, which developed and maintains Lakewood Ranch, only agreed to sell the property to San Marco Plaza developers if the Golden Apple would be there to anchor it.

The deal required Turoff to sign an affidavit from the developers stating a theater would be operating there for at least two years.

SMR released Turoff from the deed restriction, allowing him to sell in 2009.

But the new theater never materialized.

In March, the Professional Learning and Theatrical Organization received Internal Revenue Service approval to form as a non-profit organization and operate the Golden Apple.

Kyle Ennis Turoff, daughter of Roberta and Robert, is president and artistic director of PLATO, which produces shows at the Golden Apple.

Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at (941) 745-7057. Visit his blog at bradenton.com.

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