Gecko’s new event and catering space opening March 15
by Laura Finaldi, Sarasota Herald-Tribune, March 4, 2019
Did you know that the first ever Gecko’s Grill & Pub opened in The Landings in 1992? It’s hard to imagine Sarasota without multiple Gecko’s locations, but that’s where it all began.
Owners Mike Gowan and Mike Quillen actually built out the space themselves. They poured the concrete and built the bar. One of them worked the day shift and one worked at night for three years until they slowly got established and built the fan base they have today.
Now, in the same spot where it all began, Gecko’s Hospitality Group is introducing an entirely new concept — a modern events and catering space with enhanced capacity and new design.
Signature Events & Catering, as it’s called, will open its doors March 15, according to an announcement from Gecko’s Hospitality Group. The space has 1,850 square feet on the inside and a 1,500-square-foot covered patio, with seating for up to 150 guests. It’s intended for all kinds of events, including weddings, dinner parties, business meetings, seminars and casual events.
Gecko’s will be completely out of its former catering and event space, The Signature Room, by the end of April, Anne Rollings of Gecko’s said. The space is attached to the Gecko’s Grill & Pub near Clark Road. The company has plans for The Signature Room, but nothing to announce yet, Rollings said.
Signature Events & Catering is an entirely new concept, Rollings said. The color palette inside is a clean, cool, pale gray with modern lighting accents, wood-framed mirrors and marble-designed flooring that is the color of the sea. On the outside, greenery will create the feel of a private patio. Amenities will include custom menus, a state-of-the-art sound system and projector screen, a full bar, indoor and outdoor dining and plenty of parking.
“It won’t look anything like The Signature Room and it won’t look anything like what people will remember from the original Gecko’s in ’92,” Rollings said. “Our on- and off-site capabilities have been enhanced.”
In March, Signature Events & Catering will work on a bridal shower, an off-site wedding and a large community event, she said.
Michelle Graber, director of catering for Gecko’s Hospitality Group, will be in charge of Signature Events & Catering. The venue also now has a dedicated catering chef, Chef Shaun Frick.
The Landings, located just north of Phillippi Creek on U.S. 41, is in the midst of a redevelopment. Benderson Development Co. of Manatee County bought the plaza in 2017 and has been renovating the plaza, its greenery and its parking lot ever since. Some longstanding tenants, like Landings Travel, hold strong there, but there’s plenty more in the works, including Starbucks, Apollonia Grill and a healthy eating restaurant. Recently, Kruk’s Philly Steaks, DaRuMa, ofKors Donuts and Station 400 have joined the lineup.
Other tenants at the Landings include Publix, Nuovo Salons & Spas, Dollar Tree, Corkscrew Deli, Massage Heights, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Olive Garden, Sweet Tomatoes and Jo-Ann Fabrics.
“The new landlords have really breathed new life in to what has always been a wonderful neighborhood in Sarasota. The out-of-state landlords who were there before weren’t nearly as attentive to tenants as the new landlord will be,” Rollings said. “They have really done an amazing job of working with some really strong identifiable retail and restaurants to revitalize The Landings.”
Laura Finaldi is the Herald-Tribune’s retail and tourism reporter.