The Oasis Café
A Family Eatery with an Ever-Evolving Menu
Jim Palermo’s daily specials and menu twists are as uniquely creative as he is.
The chef/owner of The Oasis Café in Sarasota runs his hometown breakfast-and-lunch hot spot with his wife, Melissa, and daughter, Ashley. The Palermos put a premium on local food sourcing and community-centric service, and they are always churning out one-of-a-kind dishes du jour.
“I think people—younger people, especially—are really getting tuned in to where and how their food is sourced, and they want to know all the details,” says Jim Palermo, adding that his two sons, Adam and Edward, also grew up in the beloved family business. “We use Dakin milk for our dairy and products from Sweetgrass Farms, and we make everything from scratch and fresh.”
The Palermos are also devout customers of Central Market of Florida—a company that distributes food from area farms all year long. Because of this connection, the Palermos know what is in season, who is cultivating it and what specifics to order.
“A big key to my business is that relationship with Central; it keeps me very tuned in to what’s going on with the farms around town,” he says. “Otherwise, there are not enough hours in the day for a mom-and-pop restaurant like ours to source all that on our own and keep up with everything.”
Being a mom-and-pop operation is natural for the Palermos, who opened their café in 2004. The Palermos had already launched the original Broken Egg in 1985 as well as the Serving Spoon restaurant concepts. They had previously lived in the Burlington, Vermont, area before resettling back in Sarasota, and their travels inspired them to incorporate northern (and even global) flavors into their menu.
Their specialty items includes gluten-free pumpkin spice pancakes, raisin bread French toast, and Incredible Potatoes for the breakfast crowds, as well as Reuben sandwiches, Siesta Sister Wraps, and lamb burgers for the lunch regulars.
These staples comprise the tried-and-true offerings on the menu but Jim Palermo is always putting a new spin on his classics. Whether he is using a mixture of seasonal vegetables in his omelets or whipping up an entirely never-before-tasted entrée, he is never short on innovation.
“I always have about four or five specials going for breakfast and lunch, and it’s amazing to me when people give me such incredible feedback on those specials,” he says. “That keeps me excited to try new things. We will also do everything we can to accommodate any dietary restrictions or sensitivities, and I know not every restaurant does that. That’s how much we value our customers. We’ve found that people really remember and appreciate that, and it keeps them coming back.”
► The Oasis Café: 3542 S Osprey Ave, Sarasota, 941-957-1214; theoasiscafe.net