Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Soma Diner Will Relocate

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Soma Diner Will Relocate

Article excerpt

Dave Shiplett, one of the most celebrated chefs in Manatee County, will finally have a restaurant in downtown Bradenton. The Friendly City native has operated Soma Diner for the past four years in a hard-to-find building east of downtown. When he opens Soma Creek Side in September, in the larger space occupying the first floor of the Bradenton Financial Center, it will put Shiplett smack dab in the middle of downtown.

He'll still be south of Manatee Avenue - that's how Soma got its name - but just a short stroll from bustling Old Main Street, the renowned Village of the Arts and the newly renovated, multi-million dollar attraction Riverwalk. Soma Creek Side, in the former home of Jennifer's Cafe, will also be just across the street from where Shiplett attended preschool. In addition, it's a short walk from his house in the Historic Ware's Creek Neighborhood.

"I love owning a restaurant in my hometown," Shiplett says while preparing for a weekday lunch crowd. "That's what I like about going downtown; it's always been the center of the universe to me. Growing up, it's where the theater was and all the best restaurants and I've just had a burning desire to be downtown, to be part of it, to be back to that place."

Shiplett honed his culinary skills in California before becoming a star chef at the old Poseidon on Longboat Key and then Ezra in West Bradenton. Community leaders are enthusiastic about him operating a restaurant downtown.

"He's an amazing chef, an artist in the kitchen, and it's really exciting to get him downtown," says David Gustafson, executive director of the Bradenton Downtown Development Authority. "It also continues to demonstrate that Bradenton is going through a renaissance and restaurateurs like Dave are a big component of that."

Shiplett has made Soma Diner a foodie destination by creating masterworks out of everything from fresh, locally caught fish to truck-stop favorites. Last year, for instance, more than 350 guests gathered for the fourth annual Chowdown for Charity to raise money for culinary education in local schools. The event at the Riverhouse at Regatta Pointe in Palmetto featured dishes by chefs representing Manatee County's finest restaurants. …

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