Zagat-rated restaurant headed to Bradenton as city continues its Renaissance

twhitt@bradenton.comMarch 29, 2013 

BRADENTON -- One of the south's hot chefs is moving his restaurant from Sarasota to Bradenton.

Derek's Culinary Cuisine is moving into west Bradenton this fall. Derek Barnes, the chef-owner, is leaving Sarasota's Rosemary District in April because "the Rosemary District has not seen any of the improvements envisioned when we started," Barnes told customers in an email.

Sarasota's loss is Bradenton's gain.

After searching for space in Sarasota, Barnes said Thursday night that he found the perfect spot in Bradenton, close to his northwest Bradenton home.

"I am excited to be headed in this direction," he said. "It's been a long thought process. This is where we live, my children are in school here. I am very excited to be this much more connected to the community. It makes sense."

While Barnes said in an interview Thursday night that the announcement on the location is imminent, he would not give the specific address. He did say he is not taking over the location of an existing restaurant.

"We are moving forward," Barnes said. "The plans are drawn, I'm just not giving the exact location right now."

He did say he plans to keep his customers informed with updates art least every three weeks."

While reluctant to leave Sarasota where he has been building his business, "the excitement of a first-class location, and building with the option to own the building in the future, was too much to pass," he said. "Our expected opening will be late summer or early fall."

As Bradenton goes through its own Renaissance, it makes sense for the Zagat-rated restaurant to move to Bradenton. The area has been pushing to build more arts and entertainment venues, including a new performing arts center on the edge of its Riverwalk, a riverfront venue that include an amphitheater, parks and a skatepark, all designed to be regional draws,

"I'm excited to be a part of that," Barnes said.

At the same time, Barnes told his customers, the Rosemary District never realized its vision.

"Our business has been progressively successful because of your participation yet the Rosemary District has not seen any of the improvements envisioned when we started," he wrote in his email. "Consequently, it is imperative to relocate the restaurant to provide us with the opportunity to realize our dreams when we opened."

The city is already seeing more interest from businesses and capturing attention from entertainers.

A semifinalist for the James Beard Best Chef South award, Barnes worked with Emeril Lagasse in the kitchen of Emeril's in New Orleans before opening his own restaurant.

Derek's will offer a variety of dishes, mostly fare not found anywhere else in Bradenton.

Get ready for menu items such as sautéed Pacific blue mussels, fries and roasted garlic aioli or duck tamale with cactus salad, charred Hatch chile sauce and crispy yucca. You can also get grilled king crab tail, yellow and cherry tomatoes, radish, cucumber, shallot and lemon vinaigrette.

Barnes' talent for creating unique dishes earned him Florida Trend's Golden Spoon award, the "Most Innovative Chef" title in 2009 in the Best of SRQ Magazine, and inclusion in the exclusive 2009 Zagat America's Top Restaurants listing.

Barnes has not revealed the address of his new location only saying it is along upper Manatee Avenue near Northwest Bradenton.

Toni Whitt, business editor, can be reached at 941-745-7087. Follow her on Twitter @toniTwhitt.

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