UNIVERSITY PARK -- Get a beer bracelet at the Oak & Stone restaurant in University Park, and you instantly become your own bartender.
The bracelet serves as a bar tab and lets customers try any of Oak & Stone's 56 craft beer varieties without fully committing to paying for a pint. Pints of craft beer typically range from $8 to $12.
The new technology, created by the California firm iPourIt, is exactly the type of concept Benderson Development Co. searches for when leasing University Park tenants.
"We very much like bringing first-to-market restaurants to the Sarasota-Manatee area," said Mark Chait, executive director of Benderson's southeast leasing. "We also really look at quality operations. We do our homework and investigate the restaurants and all retailers we bring to the area."
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Oak & Stone owners hope to open at the end of May. It will be the first restaurant in a new 19,000-square-foot plaza in The Square at University Town Center.
Other restaurant tenants will include Keke's Breakfast Cafe and Newk's Eatery. Keke's is hoping to open sometime in the fall, according to company representative Nate Martin. Newk's Eatery, a casual lunch and dinner cafe, could not be reached for an opening date.
The plaza is also home to Hand & Stone Massage and Facial Spa, which opened last week, and Budget Blinds, scheduled to open later this month.
Though the technology used at Oak & Stone is new to the Sarasota market, the place is run by familiar faces.
Mike Santa Lucia used to own Lucia's Pizza Italian Grill in Sarasota, but sold the place to branch out with Oak & Stone. Santa Lucia and Brett Decklever, owner and managing member of Oak & Stone, realized they wanted to address an issue that Manatee-Sarasota bargoers often face.
"We just came up with the idea of how it was kind of a nuisance to be waiting at a busy bar for a bartender," Santa Lucia said.
The beer bracelets give customers sampling options, save Oak & Stone money through fewer overpours and provide a built-in alcohol consumption monitoring system. Each customer's bracelet is deactivated when it hits 36 ounces, but if they're not too intoxicated, Oak & Stone employees can unlock the bracelets.
Santa Lucia explained how the bracelet system works:
"When you enter the restaurant, you show your ID and you get an RFID (radio frequency identification) bracelet," he said. "You walk up to each tap, and above each tap there is a 7-inch LCD monitor telling you a little bit about the beer, the type of glassware you should use and the alcohol content. You'll just swipe your bracelet and you'll pour as little or as much as you want, and you are charged by each 1/10th of an ounce."
Santa Lucia and Decklever saw University Park's burgeoning restaurant scene as the perfect place to prototype Oak & Stone.
"The location, with the opening of the mall and the growing of this entire area, we just saw the huge potential in this market," Santa Lucia said. " It's a good place to showcase a starter restaurant."
To search for University Town Center restaurant hours, addresses and inspection reports please visit dine.bradenton.com.
|The Shoppes at UTC located at the corner of University Parkway and Cooper Creek Boulevard:|
|Appollonia Mediterranean Grill|
|Carmel Mediterranean Kitchen and Wine Bar|
|Fast n Fresh|
|Five Guys Burgers and Fries|
|Lee Roy Selmon's|
|Linksters Tap Room (beer/wine/alcohol only)|
|Pei Wei Asian Diner|
|Tandoor Fine Indian Cuisine|
|Valentino Pizzeria Trattoria|
|Tourist Center Drive, located behind The Square at UTC:|
|Moe’s Southwest Grill|
|Casa Di Pizza|
|(World of Beer - beer/wine only)|
|The Square at UTC located at the corner of University Parkway and Honore:|
|Far East Chinese Restaurant|
|Oak & Stone-opening soon|
|The Market at UTC located at the corner of University Parkway and Honore Avenue:|
|Buffalo Wild Wings|
|Half Shell Oyster House|
|Kumo Japanese Steak House|
|Square 1 Burgers and Bar|
|Tom & Chee|
|The District West at UTC located at the corner of Desoto Road and Cattlemen Road:|
|Burger Fi (under construction)|
|California Pizza Kitchen (under construction)|
|JPan Japanese Restaurant (under construction)|
|Menchie's Frozen Yogurt|
|Rusty Bucket Restaurant and Tavern|