There seems to be no slackening of the appetite for new places to eat.
Four new restaurants opened in Lakewood Ranch in the last month, the most recent being a Panera Bread on Wednesday.
The other new openings were So Fresh, Chipotle Mexican Grill and Starbucks.
The new restaurants are all located at The Green at Lakewood Ranch, a 525,000-square-foot mixed-use development on the northeast corner of State Road 70 and Lakewood Ranch Boulevard.
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The So Fresh restaurant at 11569 S.R. 70 E.., Unit 106, was doing a bustling lunch business on Thursday, as were Chipotle, Panera Bread and Starbucks.
“Business has been great and we’re still building,” So Fresh manager Michael Murphy said.
The So Fresh restaurant is the first outside Hillsborough County. The company is also planning a restaurant in downtown Sarasota.
So Fresh’s menu features bowls, wraps and salads, and invites customers to create their own for $8.95. The company also offers smoothies, fresh pressed juices, such as Kale Tonic (kale, spinach, ginger, apple, lemon, celery and cucumber) and Carrotini (apple, carrot, lemon, and tumeric).
Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, and Starbucks are all located on outparcels at The Green.
“It’s been pretty busy since we opened,” Chipotle general manager Javier Toledano said.
Other new restaurants that have been announced for The Green by Tavistock Development Company, a diversified real estate firm based in Orlando, but have not opened include KeKe’s Breakfast Café, Irish Pub 31 House & Eatery and Wendy’s.
Anchors at The Green include an Earth Fare supermarket and LA Fitness.
“In general, all of the real estate developers have found the biggest traffic driver is the restaurant scene. There has been a whole lifestyle change,” said Stan Rutstein, agent/broker at Re/Max Alliance Group in Bradenton.
In the past, several couples might have dinner at one of their houses, but now they are more likely to gather at a favorite restaurant, he said. Also, going out for lunch has become a big deal, Rutstein said.
“All of the developers are aggressively going after restaurants, and frankly I don’t think that will stop,” Rutstein said.
While there has been a proliferation of restaurants, they may not always stick around.
Pascone’s Ristorante, which opened earlier this year at 5239 University Parkway, near Fresh Market, moved into an extensively renovated space formerly occupied by a Square 1 hamburger restaurant.
The Half Shell Seafood House, which opened in 2013 at 5231 University Parkway, inside the former Red Elephant Pizza, closed this year. That space remains unoccupied.
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