LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Anything to do with eggs seems to be popular in Lakewood Ranch, even attracting the attention of its most notable resident, ESPN college basketball announcer Dick Vitale.
When the popular Broken Egg restaurant on Exchange Way, just off University Parkway, closed last November after the retirement of its owner, residents, snowbirds and tourists passing through were wondering whether their appetites for omelettes, pancakes and good old-fashioned eggs-over-easy would be satisfied again.
Well, wait no more. In its place, a new egg eatery has hatched with a similar name,
a menu with a Cajun-Creole flair and ownership with roots in Louisiana.
Another Broken Egg Cafe debuted this week with a soft opening in preparation for its grand opening on Monday. If the crowd that poured into the restaurant Thursday morning was any indication, Another Broken Egg Cafe will be a hit, just like its former tenant. This is the second restaurant of its kind to open in the Sarasota area, following a successful opening this past Monday in Siesta Key.
Both restaurants are part of the Louisiana-based Double R Restaurant Group, founded and headed by Ron Green, whose mid-life crisis in 1996 after years of working in the corporate world landed him in the restaurant business, opening the original "Egg" on the shores of Lake Pontchatrain in Old Mandeville, La. The company now operates a string of 12 restaurants in the South, with plans to develop approximately 40 new locations in South Florida over the next 10 years.
This week's sneak preview in Lakewood Ranch has a two-fold purpose: prepping to make sure all things are smooth sailing for the expected deluge next week, and supporting three local charities. Anyone who visits Friday and Saturday between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. can dine for free and donate to two charities designated for each day. The Joey Powers Leukemia Project assists families dealing with childhood leukemia, and The V Foundation, Vitale's nonprofit, works to find a cure for pediatric cancer.
"We're killing two birds with one stone so to speak, by serving breakfast for free and encouraging charity donations. This a great way for our staff to practice and diners to sample and taste our food," said regional training manager Shawn Pollard.
The restaurant worked out a relationship with Vitale during the time it was transitioning to Another Broken Egg Cafe, so Vitale could return to spending his mornings working to promote his charity at their location, besides another nearby breakfast chain, First Watch, where Vitale has relocated.
"I'm going to both places. This is my office. I work here and I meet a lot of people. It all goes to the kids," said Vitale, who happened to be at First Watch on Thursday before traveling overseas for a sports assignment.
Guests dining on Thursday were generously contributing to Sarasota-based Mothers Helping Mothers, an all-volunteer organization that lends a hand to moms in the Bradenton-Sarasota area needing basic necessities for their children, and in some cases, financial help to pay their mortgage, rent, medical bills, etc.
Mothers Helping Mothers volunteer Madeline Brogan, who also serves as president, was busy greeting and thanking guests, among them, Becca Davis, of Fort Wayne, Ind., who made a $100 donation.
"We like to help out the community, especially for a cause like this where kids can't help their situation," Davis said.
Patrons of Another Broken Egg Cafe were treated to the restaurant's varied menu of Southern-inspired dishes, from popular appetizers such as biscuit beignets dipped in powdered sugar and honey marmalade, and baked brie delight with apples, pecans and raisins sauteed in Grand Marnier and butter over brie cheese and toasted French bread, to hearty eggs and omelets with andouille, crawfish and red peppers. eggs Benedict, pancakes and cinnamon roll french toast. Prices on the menu vary from $2.99 for appetizers to $16.99 for entrees.
For collectors, Another Broken Egg Cafe coffee mugs are available with the Lakewood Ranch logo and of course, Dick Vitale's books, bobblehead, and sports memorabilia.
Ohio snowbirds Barb and Fred Sprankle, of Sarasota, used to patronize The Broken Egg with friends and were just passing through when they learned about the opening of Another Broken Egg Cafe.
"I thought the omelet with seafood was unique. I don't see that in other breakfast places," Barb Sprankle said. "They kept the same concept. I like eating outdoors. You can't get a nice place like this outdoors in Ohio," said Fred Sprankle, who enjoyed the patio dining under an awning that will soon be expanded.Those wishing to participate in the restaurant's "sneak peak" dining and charity experience on Friday and Saturday are advised to call in advance and make a reservation. Information is available at anotherbrokenegg.com.
Kathryn Moschella, Lakewood Ranch reporter can be reached at 941-745-7010. Follow her on Twitter @MoschellaHerald.