Saturday, June 11, 2005

Broken Egg to open in East Manatee

Herald Staff Writer

SIESTA KEY - In about six months, Dick Vitale is going to have twice as difficult a time deciding where to eat breakfast.

Variety may be the spice of life, but for Vitale, an ESPN college basketball analyst and Lakewood Ranch resident, there's only one place to start his day.

Until early 2006.

The Broken Egg, a 20-year-old staple in the village of Siesta Key, is bringing its popular menu and island charm to the Lakewood Ranch Town Center.

The restaurant will occupy 3,000 square feet of a 10,000-square-foot building it will share with Northwestern Mutual.

The new building is being constructed near the Chili's Grill & Bar in the Publix-anchored shopping center just east of Interstate 75.

The Broken Egg is open exclusively for breakfast and lunch. Its hours of operation are 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., 364 days a year.

Vitale, while having breakfast Tuesday, said many of the basketball stories he breaks on ESPN were cultivated from his favorite outdoor table at The Broken Egg.

"It's my office away from home," he said. "Every day I'm not on the road, I'm here. I like to start my day here."

Vitale, who's famous for his excitable personality and passion for college basketball, said he looks forward to spending Sunday mornings after church with his family at the new Broken Egg. He said he hopes to attend the grand opening, and that he wants to invite several celebrities and make an event of it.

Those are all good things, said Lakewood Ranch spokeswoman Sondra Guffey.

"I'd like to sign him up for every project," she said of Vitale. "We could take a few more like him."

The new restaurant is another part of the ongoing domino effect taking place in Lakewood Ranch as commercial development catches up with residential development, she said.

Broken Egg President Bob Kirscher said the new Lakewood Ranch location will be similar to the original at 200 Avenida Madera in Siesta Key. He will hire about 40 people.

Expansion isn't a top priority for Kirscher, but Lakewood Ranch looked too good to ignore, he said.

"It's an up-and-coming place and expanding rapidly," he said. "An opportunity arrived there, and we jumped on it."

The Broken Egg on Siesta Key is a tourist attraction and a place where it's not uncommon to see celebrities. Movie stars Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson have dropped in, Kirscher said.

Even Vitale was starstruck when he bumped elbows at the island diner with Tom Cruise.

The Broken Egg is the kind of place where the employees know all the regulars. They want to bring that same feel to the new location, employees said.

Sarasota residents Fred and Evelyn Weidner said they visit the island diner at least two or three times a week, and have been doing so for more than a decade.

"It's just very comfortable," Fred Weidner said.

Too true, says Vitale, who even has a promotional deal on his Web site where the winner will be flown into Sarasota to hang out with Vitale, and eat breakfast at The Broken Egg. This will be the fifth year he has done it.

"I just love the whole ambience," he said, gesturing toward the laid-back Avenida Madera. And in true Vitale fashion, said: "It's awesome, baby. Awesome with a capital A."

Matt Griswold, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 708-7908, or at

Valeo Clearance License 3.121.4647311-99211

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