By LOIS KINDLE
Back in the day, The Sandpiper Grille at WCI’s Golf & Racquet Club in Sun City Center was the hottest spot in town.
Mike Madden, the restaurant and bar’s current owner, wants to make it so once more.
“It was the first public building in the community,” Madden said. “When people bought a home here in the 1960s to the early 1980s, everyone who bought a home was required to join the club. It was the only place in town at the time for them to come. Everyone would get all dressed up just to come to dinner.”
Most people living in Sun City Center know that Minto Communities eventually bought WCI properties in the late 2000s to build homes, and later that year ClubLink bought the golf courses in town.
In 2011, The Sandpiper Golf Course and The Sandpiper Grille Restaurant and Bar reopened, this time to the public.
Madden bought the restaurant three years ago and has since sought to rebuild its popularity through what he calls “upscale, casual dining at affordable prices.” The food features both American and Mediterranean fare, traditional dishes like meatloaf, lasagna and pot roast and continental meals like clam linguini, chicken piccata and coconut shrimp. Prices range from $7.95 to $19.95.
“Many of the people here want to eat what they ate when they were kids, and others enjoy contemporary dining,” Madden said. “Our menu has something for them all.”
Last June, when the community experienced repeated heavy rains, the flat roof over The Sandpiper’s main dining room filled up and water leaked down through the air conditioner vents into the building. The restaurant continued to serve folks in its three other dining rooms, but rumors had flown that the restaurant was closed.
Then in September, the roof under repair was further damaged by Hurricane Irma. Madden was just recently able to reopen the main dining room and is celebrating by offering half-price drinks and samples of its new food offerings now through Jan. 20 at the Sandpiper Bar during Happy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m.
“The menu will still have all the old favorites but will feature new items like potato skins, flatbread pizzas, cheese fries and more,” Madden said. “We will also have a new early-bird menu with 10 complete dinners, including soup or salad, freshly baked bread and an entrée for $9.95 from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 3 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.”
In addition to its regular menu, The Sandpiper Grille offers weekly specials on different days of the week, including fried fish, baby-back ribs or liver and onions. As is always the case, everything is made to order in generous portions with only the freshest ingredients.
Private rooms are available for all special occasions, including birthdays, baby and wedding showers, anniversary parties, business meetings and more for groups of 10 or more.
The Sandpiper Grille, 1702 S. Pebble Beach Blvd., Sun City Center, is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, 365 days a year. On Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m., solo pianist Frank Weder performs live.
Reservations are requested for five diners or more. For more information, call 813-634-7900.