LONGBOAT KEY -- Moore's Stone Crab Restaurant, the iconic Longboat Key establishment, has been sold.
The restaurant closed Wednesday, according to a voicemail on the business phones. The message thanks customers for their loyalty and promises a new restaurant will soon be located there.
The owners, Moore-Hicks Limited Partnership, confirmed for the Herald that they sold the waterfront restaurant, 800 Broadway St., Longboat Key, to Mark Caragiulo and Tom Leonard. Caragiulo is part-owner of Caragiulo's Italian Restaurant in downtown Sarasota with four of his brothers and is also affiliated with Owen's Fish Camp. Caragiulo and Tom Leonard also own Shore Diner on St. Armands Circle in Sarasota.
There is no date yet for the opening of a new restaurant at the Moore's location, but Caragiulo said the new restaurant would be a "waterfront, seafood-y, sexier, funkier version" of the Shore. He estimates they'll hire about 70 to 80 people to work in the roughly 6,000-square foot restaurant.
"Renovations could be rehabilitation of the building or a total renovation; we're not sure at this point," Caragiulo said.
Lynda Hicks, former office manager for Moore's Stone Crab, said the Moore family will release a statement on Thursday.
LoopNet, a real estate site, describes the restaurant property as a 185-seat restaurant with the prettiest view of Sarasota Bay on the island. It has been a Longboat Key landmark and has been owned by the Moore family since its inception in 1967.
The Shore partners said they were always open to expanding, and the right opportunity arose at the right time.
"We'll continue to look for opportunities to expand Shore," Caragiulo said. "This was a unique opportuniy and a good piece of property that doesn't become available very often."
Janelle O'Dea, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7095. Follow her on Twitter @jayohday.