The quintessential neighborhood of Florida retirement circa 1975 is currently undergoing a big change. With the original residents going to a better place, they’re being replaced by young families, young professionals and younger retirees. But what’s giving Gulf Gate “street cred” for an acceptable place to live is the unlikely success of Gulf Gate Village.
The village used to be famous for its motley assortment of pathetic-looking stores—seriously bad consignment shops and low-rent tanning salons. I seem to remember the Moose Club was there. The streets were always full of potholes. It was tacky and unworthy of the name “Gulf Gate” or “Sarasota.”
Now it’s the hippest place in town. Those lowdown bars are now the heart and soul of Sarasota’s music scene. It’s by far the biggest and best bar scene in town. Who doesn’t love an evening at Mr. Beery’s—currently the “it” bar—or perhaps the neighborhood landmark, Monk’s.
But wait—there’s more.
It’s also become a food destination. Many of the latest must-try restaurants are there, from Veg to Word of Mouth Cafe. And it’s somehow become the place to go for gourmet oddities, European groceries, great sushi, cupcakes and a snack-bar dive that has become world-famous for its over-the-top junk food. Some of the best eats in town…that’s what makes the difference when it comes to attracting new residents. So this, coupled with the easy bike ride to Siesta Key, means that Gulf Gate is suddenly becoming very attractive.
It’s taken me years to come to terms with the average Gulf Gate home, as it practically has “Genteel Retirement” stamped all over it. These are modest homes, and they are very similar to each other. They have no grandeur, no individuality, or so I used to think. Now I see them as architectural classics. They’re the Craftsman bungalows of tomorrow.