by Linda Hunt
FST’s five theatres may be dark, but the organization is still finding ways to serve its loyal patrons.
FST announced earlier this week that its Green Room Café & Bar is officially open for curbside pick-up and delivery. Now, seven days a week from 11AM-8PM, fans can bring the flavors of the theatre home.
But this choice to re-open the restaurant wasn’t about revenue for the nonprofit. It was about people.
FST is very grateful to be among the small businesses to benefit from Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funding. Thanks to this financial assistance, FST was able to re-hire 30 full-time employees for eight weeks, including its dedicated restaurant mangement staff.
“Much of the Green Room’s management staff has been with us for over a decade,” shared Rebecca Hopkins, FST’s Managing Director. “Our audience knows them by name. While we can’t open our doors for theatregoers at this time, we can continue to serve our audience and maintain our connection to our long-time staff by re-opening FST’s Green Room Café & Bar.”
Ordering from FST’s Green Room isn’t just a great way to support the theatre – it’s a great way to support the people who have served you for years.
Featuring a full food and bar menu with fan favorites like lobster bisque, sandwiches made fresh with Boars Head Deli meats, Margherita Flatbread, Carolina Gold Salmon, and more, fans can enjoy all their go-to menu items…while getting a night off in the kitchen. They can also enjoy special discounts on bottles of wine, beer, and liquor with food orders.
We met with the four people who are making this magic happen—Tom Curry, Karen Kraster, Kristy Plum, and Steve Swan—to get a peek behind the scenes of FST’s Green Room Café & Bar.
Tom has been part of the FST family for 20 years, starting out as an Assistant Box Office and Restaurant Manager. “When I started, I came from managing a movie theater,” said Tom. “I was looking for any job in theatre. I found FST during my search.”
When FST’s Senior Restaurant Manager got married and left in 2005, Tom had the chance to be the head honcho. “I love that every day is a little different and I get to be on my feet. I would come into the Green Room and see employees sitting next to patrons at the bar – the place was buzzing. I love that atmosphere.”
Tom particularly enjoys managing the Goldstein and Court Cabarets—two of FST’s performance spaces where audience members can grab a meal before a show. “Working the Cabaret shows is special because you are, in a way, part of the show – you’re part of the whole experience.”
His favorite dish? “The fried green tomatoes—they make my mouth water.”
Also a Restaurant Manager at FST, Karen Kraster has worked in the restaurant industry since she was 18-years-old. “I’ve worked here [at FST] for about ten years,” said Karen. “One of the things I most enjoy about my job is working with people from all walks of life – from interns to ushers to the restaurant staff.”
Although she isn’t able to work with all of those people at the current moment, she is proud that FST’s Green Room Café & Bar has re-opened.
“We opened the Green Room for delivery and pickup to provide a service for the community,” said Karen. “We are also working to support the community. All of our produce is local, so by reopening, we’re also helping support local farms. Our hope is that, by being open, we’re providing support for other industries that weren’t otherwise getting much business.”
Her favorite meal on the menu? “I love the lasagna.”
The newest addition to FST’s restaurant staff, Kristy Plum has worked as an Assistant Restaurant Manager for two years. Before that, she worked as a server and bartender. “I like working here because I love all the people,” said Kristy. “I like meeting all the new interns and ushers. Every couple of years, there’s a new group of people that I get to know and work with. It keeps things interesting.
Although the restaurant staff is down to only 4 people at the moment, she’s still able to see people—from at least 6 feet away—as they pick up their orders outside of FST’s Hegner Theatre Wing.
Her menu recommendation? “I really like the new herb roasted chicken,” she suggested. “It’s really tender and juicy, and the outside is crispy. It’s perfect comfort food.”
The man behind the curtain – or the stove in this case – Steve Swan has been creating magic in FST’s kitchen for about 5 years now.
“What I enjoy most about working here are the people that I come in contact with—the administrative staff, restaurant employees, customers and volunteers. They’re just a nice bunch of people.”
As FST’s Kitchen Manager, Steve is the menu visionary who helps decide how and when to change the restaurant’s culinary offerings.
“Recently, we’ve made a conscious effort to change our dishes so that they’re more seasonal,” said Steve. “We recently put salmon on the menu, which was a goal of mine, and it’s been very well received.”
With the uncertainty in the world, it’s difficult to say exactly what the future of FST’s dining options will look like. “We are focusing on short term ideas for now,” said Steve. “The plan is to open the restaurant to 50% capacity (when we are allowed to do so) and, of course, keep curbside to-go service going for a while.”
What does Steve want new and returning customers to the Green Room to know?
“I would just like them to know that they can expect locally sourced vegetables, fresh ingredients, and care in every dish that we make.”
FST’s Green Room Café & Bar is open seven days a week from 11AM to 8PM. Contactless delivery is available within the downtown Sarasota area. For a complete menu or to order online, click here. Orders can also be made by calling 941-250-4550.