Dick Vitale finds a new hangout spot in Lakewood Ranch

Lakewood Ranch's resident says First Watch is 'Awesome, Baby!'

srocco@bradenton.comFebruary 28, 2014 

Dick Vitale with a young fan Wednesday at First Watch, his new favorite hangout. . PHOTO PROVIDED

LAKEWOOD RANCH -- When The Broken Egg closed last fall, Dick Vitale, a regular and then some, had to find another place to read a stack of newspapers and sip a cup of decaf.

Another place to sell his books and bobbleheads and sign autographs.

A new place to spend great chunks of the day when he's not calling college hoops games for ESPN.

A Broken Egg loyalist since 2010, Vitale, a Lakewood Ranch resident, lured legions of fans into the breakfast joint -- people who drove hundreds of miles just to watch the man eat toast. Forget Snooty -- little boys and their dads would rather get a glimpse of the zany ESPN sportscaster.

But now he's rebounding with the Broken Egg's next-door neighbor: First Watch.

After enjoying a turkey burger and some fruit, Vitale sat alone Thursday afternoon at First Watch, 8306 Market St., hovering over the sports section of the Bradenton Herald.

"I will start my day here every day. I will be here a great deal. They have opened their doors to me," said Vitale, who had been at the restaurant since 9:30 a.m.

Dickie V merchandise will go up in a display case Tuesday to continue support for The V Foundation for Cancer Research. All proceeds go toward funding for pediatric cancer.

"It's not just about Dickie V. It's about what he does. We're happy to have him here," said George Adams, First Watch general manager.

This First Watch is one of more than 100 in 15 states owned by the University Park-based chain.

The Broken Egg, Vitale's former hangout at 6115 Exchange Way, is under new ownership and will reopen at the end of March under a not-so-new name: Another Broken Egg Cafe.

Vitale was close friends with the old owner, Bob Kirscher, but isn't too familiar with the franchise taking over the site. Louisiana-based Double R Restaurant Group acquired Broken Egg locations in Lakewood Ranch and Siesta Key to add to their fleet of Another Broken Eggs in four other states.

Will Vitale head back to his roots then?

Susan Halsey, Another Broken Egg's general manager, was confident Thursday morning that Vitale, no doubt a restaurant moneymaker, will return.

"I do know he's coming here because we've made commitments to his charities ... he will be coming back," she said.

Vitale's relationship with Broken Eggs may be scrambled, but for now he's looking sunny side up. He hopes he can support Another Broken Egg and continue to sell his items there for charity -- and do the same for First Watch.

"I'm a guy about comfort. I used to feel comfortable at The Broken Egg and now I feel so comfortable here," Vitale said. "If they reach out, I'll try to blend what I'm doing here and there ... that would be the dream."

Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter @sabrinarocco.

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