For Immediate Release
Contact: Julie Milton 941-504-5637 and Amanda Horne 941-545-3620
Sarasota, Florida, January 24, 2022…Known for decades as the “Grande Dame” of Sarasota restaurants, the venerable Cafe L’Europe restaurant on St. Armands Circle has been sold for an undisclosed sum by Julie and Ron Milton to award-winning local restaurateurs and philanthropists Amanda and John Horne, owners of four Anna Maria Oyster Bar restaurants. The Hornes take over operations of the restaurant on February 1, 2022.
“For us, the sale is bittersweet,” said Ron Milton. “Since purchasing this legendary restaurant in 2016, Julie and I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience, our family-like relationships with our incredible staff, and getting to know our many loyal, wonderful customers. However, with our recent full-time move to Pinehurst, North Carolina, we wanted to ensure Café L’Europe was left in great hands and with people who understand its rich history – people who can continue and enhance its great legacy. We believe the Hornes are certainly the people to do just that.”
“Amanda and I consider it an immense honor to be entrusted with the rich culinary legacy of Café L’Europe,” said John Horne. “Much hard work has been invested over nearly 50 years by an illustrious group of local culinary titans such as founders Titus Letschert and Norbert Goldner, former managers Michael Garey and Bill Herlihy, plus former chefs Ray Arpke, J.P. Knaggs, Harry Christensen, Bob Fracalossy, Rolando Casillas, and current Executive Chef Nick Sammelman. Café L’Europe has been a mainstay in the Sarasota, Lido, and Longboat Key area for fine dining and an impeccable experience, so when Ron and Julie made the hard decision to retire and offered us the opportunity to add this iconic restaurant to our hospitality group, we jumped at the chance to take the reins for the next 50 years. The team at Café L’Europe shares our core value at Anna Maria Oyster Bars – to provide a unique brand of hospitality that ensures every guest leaves feeling like family. We are eager to continue that history long into the future, a future in which I am thrilled to work with Nick Sammelman, the restaurant’s talented Executive Chef. His vision to reignite culinary innovation on St. Armands Circle through cutting edge techniques steeped in classic tradition, will be a feast for the senses that diners will not want to miss!”
About Café L’Europe: The iconic Café L’Europe was founded in 1973 on German and Dutch influence by restaurateurs Titus Letschert and Norbert Goldner. With its elegant design and old-world charm, the restaurant’s menu strikes the perfect balance between tradition and innovation, featuring choices that endure time and trend, presented with gracious and professional service. House specialties include Dover Sole Meuniere, Chateaubriand and Shrimp Pernod served tableside, Potato-Crusted Grouper, and French Onion Soup served in an onion. It also has an award-winning and extensive wine list. For local history buffs, the front section of Café L’Europe was the original sales office of one of Sarasota’s most famous residents of the past – John Ringling. The restaurant is currently ranked #8 of 640 area restaurants on TripAdvisor. CafeLeurope.net | 941-388-4415
About Julie and Ron Milton: The Miltons lived in Sarasota for more than 20 years. Ron Milton owned various high-end car dealerships throughout these years, and in 2007, the couple purchased another community icon – Sarasota Scene magazine –the area’s longest-running community magazine now in its 65th year of print. The Miltons served as co-publishers and Julie Milton also served as executive editor. They sold the magazine in 2019. During these years, the Miltons donated in excess of one million dollars in both advertising space and dollars in support of local arts and cultural organizations, foundations, and social welfare organizations. In 2019, Julie Milton was inducted into the Community Video Archives Hall of Fame in recognition of the couple’s community support. In addition to owning Café L’Europe, the Miltons purchased and renovated the Magnolia Inn, a 10-room historic inn built in 1896 in Pinehurst, North Carolina, and opened a very successful fine dining restaurant at the Magnolia Inn called Villaggio Ristorante & Bar. The Miltons recently sold both the inn and restaurant to Pinehurst Resort, which owns three other hotels and nine golf courses in Pinehurst, including the famed Pinehurst #2, which hosts the US Open every five years.
About Amanda and John Horne: This year will mark 40 years of experience in Manatee County’s hospitality industry for John Horne, who began his career working summers at Fast Eddie’s Place while completing his Business degree at Clemson University. In 1995, John opened his first restaurant, Anna Maria Oyster Bar, on the City Pier in Anna Maria, Florida. Today, Anna Maria Oyster Bar consists of four area restaurants of the same name that serve great seafood with unmatched hospitality at a great value. John Horne is currently Vice Chairman of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association and the Chairman of the Board of Leadership Florida. Overseeing Marketing & Community Relations for the Horne Hospitality Group, Amanda Horne works to encourage inclusivity in our community and has spent her career championing for access to educational opportunities. The Hornes have been recognized for their leadership and philanthropy by numerous organizations. One award of special significance to the Hornes is receiving the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Neighbor Award in 2018 for their work with their Dive into Reading program, a Summer Grade-Level Reading program for Title I schools in Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto Counties now entering its sixth summer. Last year they were recipients of the Manatee Chamber’s Bob P. Bartz Award for Outstanding Leadership and the Pace Center for Girls Statewide Believing in Girls Award for their years of dedication to girls including co-chairing a $6 Million Capital Campaign. The Anna Maria Oyster Bars have been named Small Business of the Year by the Greater Sarasota, Longboat Key and the Manatee Chambers of Commerce.