LAKEWOOD RANCH -- Black Walnut Café, a fast-growing Texas-based company, is set to make Lakewood Ranch its first Florida restaurant location.
The company purchased property adjacent to Lakewood Ranch Town Hall earlier this year. The Lakewood Ranch restaurant would be built some time in 2016 or 2017, said Joseph Brassard, president of Hubbell and Hudson MGMT LLC.
Established in 2002, Black Walnut Café is a casual restaurant with 100 items on the menu, Brassard said.
The company has seven restaurants in the Houston area, four in Dallas-Fort Worth and two in Austin, including one opening there Thursday.
The next stop is Atlanta, where three restaurants are planned.
In addition to Lakewood Ranch, Black Walnut is looking for two other Florida locations, possibly on the east coast.
"Our owner has been to Florida, and we stumbled across this opportunity," Brassard said.
Lakewood Ranch appeals to the Black Walnut philosophy with its demographics, and mix of rooftops, schools, churches and a hospital, Brassard said.
Kirk Boylston, president of Lakewood Ranch Commercial Realty, confirmed the Black Walnut purchase of about an acre north of town hall.
Under the terms of the sale, Black Walnut has a two-year window in which to start construction, Boyl
Black Walnut Cafe serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, Brassard said.
"We are really proud of what we do," he said, citing the extensive menu, ambience and service. "We are able to execute a wide variety of excellent products. The hardest part of the business is finding people who are passionate about food."
The Lakewood Ranch restaurant would have 165 seats and a staff of 35 to 65.
Black Walnut makes 12 types of gelato, but typically looks to the local community for its desserts, and local breweries for up to 80 percent of its draft beers, Brassard said.
"When we go into a city we look for a local bakery and those are the desserts we serve," he said.
Black Walnut will serve liquor, as well as wine and beer.
"We are a true home away from home. You can experience a level of comfort created by warm high back chairs, belt driven fans, wood paneling, and high definition TVs, along with many other wonderful aspects of our dining experience that is unmatched in the fast casual world," the company website says in describing Black Walnut.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.