The Corner Grill
To passersby, it is simply known as the Corner Grill. But to its regulars, the South Sarasota eatery/bar is often dubbed “The Bryan and Shannon Show.”
Since the restaurant opened in early August, dynamic co-owners and best friends Bryan Spaulding and Shannon Wight have garnered a following for their fun, unpretentious approach to food, drinks and hospitality.
“People tell us it’s entertaining just to be in here. We’re about as real as it gets,” Wight says. “We always wanted to have a neighborhood place that was comfortable, where we would know what your favorite thing was on the menu. We’ve tried to create that.”
Located on the northeast corner of Beneva and Clark Roads, the Corner Grill (initially called the End Zone Pub & Grill) is Spaulding and Wight’s first restaurant venture. Its moniker was recently adjusted to reflect its identity: less of a sports bar with pub food and more of a conversational gathering hub with a top-quality menu.
The owners had worked together at an area restaurant (Spaulding for 17 years and Wight for five) and regularly discussed launching their own operation. So they found a 2,300-square-foot space, which was previously a craft beer bar, and revamped it to include 85 seats with low-top booths and high-top tables. Warm wood paneling and stainless steel backdrops complement the red, black, and white color scheme.
There are 12 beers on tap including exotic selections, along with wine varieties and sake-tinis. Wight and Spaulding buy local produce and meats as often as possible from independent outlets like Detwiler’s Farm Market.
“Bryan is the genius behind all the food,” Wight says. “People come in all the time and tell us the food is way better than they expected. It’s definitely not pub food.”
The highlights are the homemade eight-ounce burger patties with an array of toppings, the direct-from-Maine steamers, the wild-caught Gulf of Mexico shrimp, the Prince Edward Island mussels, the ahi tuna and the Atlantic wahoo. Maintaining such a fresh, local, and diverse menu takes creativity and energy (and a fair amount of coffee and Red Bull on extra-long nights), but Spaulding and Wight are adamant about integrity.
“We’re so committed to this, we’re here 18 to 19 hours a day, and our biggest challenge is really time,” Wight says, adding that the Corner Grill is open from 11 a.m. to midnight seven days a week. “But the reward is making people feel welcome and honestly caring about their experience. When you give people really good service and make things right, you see how appreciative they are of it, and that’s the best part of the job.”
The Corner Grill: 5765 Beneva Rd, Sarasota, 941-922-9663; theendzonegrill.com