Venice MainStreet has been designated as an accredited Main Street America™ program for meeting rigorous performance standards set by the National Main Street Center. Each year, the National Main Street Center and its Coordinating Program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach®.
“Once again, we are thrilled to recognize this year’s nationally accredited Main Street America communities for their outstanding work,” says Patrice Frey, President & CEO of the National Main Street Center. “We are experiencing an exciting era for America’s cities and towns, with a growing recognition of the importance of strong local enterprise, distinctive character, engaged residents, and sense of place. These are things that Main Street America programs have been working to protect and advance for years, strengthening the economic, social, and cultural fabric of communities across the country.”
The organization’s performance is annually evaluated by Florida Main Street, which works in partnership with the National Main Street Center to identify the local programs that meet ten performance standards. Evaluation criteria determines the communities that are building comprehensive and sustainable revitalization efforts and include standards such as fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress and actively preserving historic buildings.
Main Street America has been helping revitalize older and historic commercial districts for more than 35 years. Today, it is a network of more than 1,000 neighborhoods and communities, rural and urban, who share both a commitment to place and to building stronger communities through preservation-based economic development. Since 1980, communities participating in the program have leveraged more than $65.6 billion in new public and private investment, generated 556,960 net new jobs and 126,476 net new businesses, and rehabilitated more than 260,000 buildings. Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Venice Area Young Professionals was initiated by a small group of members active in the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce who shared a vision that Venice would benefit from a Young Professionals group. In 2006, the VAYP was formed as a committee of the Chamber and since then has become a large and vital organization in the community.
Today, the Venice Area Young Professionals, provides professional development opportunities for members, volunteer activities that make an impact on our community, and social activities for individuals and families to share in. VAYP’s mission is to unite, lead and encourage involvement to create a vibrant and prosperous community.
As VAYP celebrates its 10 years anniversary, they invite all to participate in a weeklong Young Professionals Week celebration in Venice. Yearly Young Professional weeks have become community staples across the nation. Please join us as we celebrate the successes of the Venice Area Young Professionals and continue our mission in the prosperity of our community. The week events follow, check out VAYP Facebook page for more details:
June 11th- Beach Bash at Venice North Jetty Pavilion from 4 pm – 8 pm (Family Friendly event) BBQ provided by Backwoods BBQ and Catering
June 12th- Stone Crab Picnic and a Game at Port Charlotte Stone Crabs $20/person includes food and ticket. Pre-registration required at Venice Chamber of Commerce website. 12:35 pm Game
June 15th- Wake up Venice with Venice Area Chamber of Commerce at HarborChase of Venice 7:30-9:00 am
June 16th- Leverage with LinkedIn Lunch and Learn with Gretchen Miscik at Venice Area Chamber of Commerce 11:30-1:00 pm.
June 17th- VAYP Rise N Grind Networking at Venice Wine & Coffee 7:30-9:00 am.
For more information contacted the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce: (941) 488-2236
By Maria Baskin
If you have eaten at one of our fine downtown Venice restaurants, you have probably found your way to Ciao Gelato for one of their heavenly gelatos, Italy’s version of ice cream. I recently interviewed one of the owners of Ciao Gelato and a power house of a woman, Daria Nafziger. I asked her how she and her husband/business partner, RJ, made their way from their former life in print/tech sales to owning this cozy little gelato shop on West Venice Avenue.
“Our gelato is such a good product and we feel so passionate about the process. We make our gelato fresh everyday with whole milk not fat, making four ounces of espresso gelato, for example, 160 calories. We also use fresh fruit no purees and we don’t whip it we mix it by hand which makes the gelato richer.” They get their base ingredients, which includes Amaretto (as in Saronno Italian liquor), and their equipment, Carpigiani, from Italy. “We get such satisfaction out of introducing our customers to the authentic experience of our gelato,” she tells me beaming. Whenever possible they make the effort to use local vendors such as Dakin Dairy in Myakka City, Sea Salt Florida out of Bradenton, J and M Herbs from Arcadia and Yummies Donuts in Venice.
“Who creates the different flavors?” I ask. “My husband, RJ, is the genius behind the twenty flavors we carry everyday and more than half change each day.” There are always the eight traditional flavors – Tiramisu`, Pistachio, Peanut Butter, Stracciatella made with Chantilly cream laced with ribbons of chocolate. And then there are the twelve non-traditional flavors – Oreo, mint-chocolate, festive seasonal Peppermint and Candy Cane, Spring Cake, Al Gusto Chocolate, Caramel Sea Salt and Rum Raisin… to mention a few.
As Daria and I talked about Ciao` Gelato, I noticed a group of young women sitting at one of the little café tables in the shop each enjoying a different flavored cone. I walked over, introduced myself and asked, “Why do you come to Ciao Gelato?” “Honestly?” said Emma Szablowski. “It tastes better!” Her friend, Mercedez Weigelt, then added, “Their flavors are so different.” By the time I wrote down their responses, their gelatos were gone but they had that boy-was-that-good look on their faces.
As I turned back to Daria I asked, “How was business this season?”
“Great!” calls out one of her associates, Alessandro, a young man from Italy whom they met at one of the culinary classes RJ attended on the art of making gelato.
“What do the tourists/visitors say about Venice?”
“They love downtown Venice and would love to shop all day!”
“Where are your customers coming from?”
“There is a younger population starting to come and not just tourists from Washington, Colorado, France, Germany, Canada and England. The locals who live, work and shop in Venice are a big part of the growth of downtown. We make sure not to forget them.” During the off season, Ciao Gelato offers a one-dollar-off coupon twice a week in the Gondolier Sun.
I visit Ciao Gelato often and I am never disappointed. If you haven’t stopped in for one of their rich luscious gelatos, you’re denying your taste buds a bit of the divine!
By Emilio Carlesimo
It may be confusing, as many people think of Venice MainStreet as a merchant organization. However, VMS is not solely an organization of downtown business owners and its mission is far broader than helping businesses thrive. It is an organization created 28 years ago by a group of forward thinking business leaders, downtown merchants and city fathers who knew that to preserve our downtown we needed to do more.
In the mid-1980’s downtown Venice was at a crossroads. It could have fallen into disrepair, as apathy and new retail options entered the market. Or it could flourish and become the town we celebrate today.
In 1988 Venice Main Street was accepted into the National Main Street organization. No small feat, as the application process took over two years and required that the applicant (Venice) showed a full community partnership between the city, chamber of commerce, business people, merchants, property owners, service organizations and citizens. It was an incredible task to bring all of these diverse groups together to support a plan to revitalize and stabilize downtown Venice. Can you envision Venice without its welcoming downtown avenues and gateway to the beaches?
The Main Street designation has allowed VMS to do more than could be accomplished by just a downtown business association. Its non-profit (501C3) designation gives it many advantages and allows all contributions to be tax deductible.
In welcoming Venice into the National Main Street program, the judges recognized Venice’s great sense of history and its desire to see the downtown remain a viable part of the community. They also added that Venice still maintains a belief in the “hometown” concept and concluded, “It is a special place, with a special heritage and most of all, special people.” That is still true thanks to the efforts of Venice Mainstreet.
Venice MainStreet deserves your support always, but needs your help just a little extra this month. Venice MainSreet joins 24 other Main Streets across the country in the final stages of America’s Main Street Contest. Online voting takes place May 2nd – May 29th and Venice MainStreet could win a grant of $25,000! If VMS receives these much, needed funds it will help tremendously in its work of keeping the magic of Venice alive.
Vote for Venice MainStreet: http://mainstreetcontest.com/profile.php?id=46
The national small business movement, Independent We Stand, announces the quarterfinalists, including Venice MainStreet, of the 2016 Independent We Stand “America’s Main Streets” contest. As the lifeblood of our cities and towns, Main Streets play an important role in the long-term success of communities and help build a sense of place. Venice Main Street is calling on the public to vote for help move VMS one step closer to the grand prize of $25,000.
Venice MainStreet was founded in 1987. During this time businesses and downtown were struggling. Today downtown prospers due to the ongoing economic vitality and support that Venice MainStreet brings to it. The drive of Venice MainStreet is historic preservation through the context of economic vitality. “To protect what we have, we as a community must work together keep it viable.” says Erin Silk VMS Executive Director, “We are excited to be considered for the $25,000 grant from Independent We Stand. We hope you will help us by voting every day until May 29th.”
“The goal of this inaugural Independent We Stand ‘America’s Main Streets’ contest is to promote the importance and strong economic benefits of Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive,” says Independent We Stand co-founder Bill Brunelle. “We are so pleased to see how passionate people are about their Main Streets. It’s evident by the broad range of nominations we saw representing 44 states in the first round. Now, it’s time to rally and vote again for these terrific quarterfinalists.”
More than 150,000 votes were cast for 253 nominees during the nominations phase. The quarterfinalists in alphabetical order are:
• Ames Main Street Cultural District, Ames, Iowa
• Cedar Lee Business District Ohio, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
• Corning’s Gaffer District, Corning, N.Y.
• Dover-Foxcroft Downtown, Dover-Foxcroft, Maine
• Downtown Brookings, Brookings, S.D.
• Downtown Development Authority of the City of Tifton, Tifton, Ga.
• Downtown Laurel, MS, Laurel, Miss.
• Downtown Lynden, Lynden, Wash.
• Doylestown, PA, Doylestown, Pa.
• Gateway to the Great North Woods, Millinocket, Maine
• Grapevine Historic Main Street, Grapevine, Texas
• Historic Downtown Franklin TN, Franklin, Tenn.
• Jacksonville Main Street, Jacksonville, Ill.
• Main Street Greenville, Greenville, Ohio
• Main Street Libertyville, Libertyville, Ill.
• Main Street Madison Indiana, Madison, Ind.
• McKinney Main Street, McKinney, Texas
• Moultrie Main Street, Moultrie, Ga.
• Sterling Main Street, Sterling, Ill.
• Stuart Main Street, Stuart, Fla.
• Third Street, Beaver, Pa.
• Venice Main Street, Venice, Fla.
• Water Street, Gardiner, Maine
• Wellsboro Main Street Pennsylvania, Wellsboro, Pa.
• Woodstock, Georgia, Woodstock, Ga.
Semifinalist voting began May 2 at www.MainStreetContest.com and runs through May 29. Voting can be done daily.
The winner of the 2016 “America’s Main Streets” contest will be announced June 3.
by Bill Willson
I am Bill Willson, President of Roberts Insurance Group, located on the island of Venice. It is my pleasure to serve as this year’s Vice President of the Venice MainStreet organization. Hopefully you are aware of this volunteer-driven, non-profit organization that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the historic character, beauty, community, and economic vitality of Historic downtown Venice.
My devout love for the area likely stems from a very long personal history of living in Sarasota County. After a brief, six-month stint in my birth place of New York City, my family moved to Sarasota County where I grew up, received my education, married, raised two daughters, and had only two employers during my long career here. I am married to another “almost native” Venice girl who grew up here on the island. To us, this is paradise, and fortunately we didn’t have to wait until after our working years to discover that.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to be “A Local,” a full-timer who bids farewell to many of my surrounding neighbors who are dear friends ending their annual migration South for the Winter about the end of March. I truly miss golfing and socializing with them, and I’m very appreciative of the many benefits they bring to our community. But, let’s be honest, have you ever said, “it’s too busy to go downtown now, let’s wait until after season?”
Are you in luck! Our friendly downtown shops and eateries want you to know “It’s Time for Lovin’ Our Locals.” Not that they don’t love you all year long, but they know they haven’t seen some of us for awhile. We want you to rediscover your downtown. To kick off welcoming you back, participating Venice MainStreet businesses are hosting a Wine Walk.
This first taste of welcome occurs on Thursday, April 21st between 5:00 and 8:00 p.m. where participating stores will offer free wine while you shop and restaurants will have dining specials. To enjoy this free event, simply go to either the Burgundy Square Breezeway on Miami Ave. or the kiosk in Centennial Park to receive your wrist band, and a list of participating businesses.
This is the first of several opportunities presented by Venice MainStreet for “Lovin’ Our Locals” events designed to reacquaint you with Your Downtown. Don’t be a stranger. Our beloved snowbirds may have once again flown the coop, but that makes it a great time for our locals to flock downtown. Come enjoy what you love, quaint downtown Venice. You’re bound to find some sizzling hot deals for summer, and even some parking, too.
Visit these participating shops during the Wine Walk: Ciao Gelato, DanaTyler, Dick’s Shoes, Down Island Way Boutique, Eyes on You, La Bella Interiors, Modern Woodmen of America, Shirt Stop, Sirena Island Day Spa, SunBug, Tarpon Bay Trading Co, Tommy’s Fine Men’s Consignment, Venice, In Vogue, Venice Wine & Coffee, Zak’s Clothing Boutique.
Enjoy additional Wine Walk specials when you dine at: Café Venice, Ristorante San Marco, and Trattoria Da Mino.
Hello, my name is Tracy and I’m a Venice MainStreet ‘Downtowner’ (a roving ambassador). Venice MainStreet is dedicated to preserving, protecting, and promoting, Historic Downtown Venice. Let me show you around town! Let’s have a seat in Fountain Park and I’ll tell you a little about Venice. This park is one of several pocket parks that John Nolen and Prentiss French established while designing the City. Venice was first settled in 1870 by Robert Rickford Roberts (Roberts Bay). In 1884, Frank Higel bought part of Roberts’ holdings and established a citrus operation. Venice was originally called Horse and Chaise but was changed to Venice when the settlers applied for a post office designation. In 1911, Bertha Honore Palmer moved to the area and lobbied for the railroad line to extend to Venice. Dr. Fred Albee, a well-known orthopedic surgeon, hired John Nolen in 1925 to design a city plan for Venice. In 1931, the Kentucky Military Institute (KMI) settled on Venice as its winter headquarters and was part of the Venice community until 1970. World War II brought the construction of the Venice Army Air Base to train fighter pilots and ground crewmen. It is now the Venice Municipal Airport. The Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus came to town in 1960 to establish their winter headquarters until 1992. The Army Corps of Engineers dredged the Intracoastal Waterway connecting Roberts and Lemon Bay, finishing in 1967. The canal created an artificial island of downtown Venice to the Gulf that can only be reached by bridges. Well, that’s enough history. If you are still interested stop by the Venice Museum & Archives on Nassau Street. Come on, we’ll walk around a bit before lunch. Over at the Merchants of Venice building you can pick up spices or sign up for a cooking class, or get your favorite piece of art framed. Here on Miami Avenue, are several shops where you can purchase everything from coastal items to bamboo sheets and linens. You can also enjoy a glass of wine or eat at the restaurants. Miami Avenue is where Venice MainStreet hosts crafts fairs during the year. Over on Tampa Avenue, we have the KMI building which has various shops and memorabilia from its days as dorms and class rooms for the Kentucky Military Institute’s cadets. Also on Tampa, is the Venice Theater which has twice hosted the International Association of Community Theaters. Saturday mornings the Farmer’s Market is held here. On Venice Avenue, we have art festivals in March and November and shops, restaurants, oh my, we have a something for everybody! There are also free concerts at the gazebo in Centennial Park and the Sun Fiesta with bed races down Venice Avenue. And parades; Halloween, Holiday and boat parades and the Eggstravaganza at Easter. So much more. Don’t forget the beach! Well, I’d say we had a pretty full day and only scratched the surface. You’ll have to come back soon and enjoy all that Venice has to offer.
Venice MainStreet, Venice’s proud promoter of preservation and economic vitality for all things Downtown Venice, has named Emilio Carlesimo, former City of Venice Councilmember, to head an extensive membership initiative for the organization.
Founded in 1987, Venice MainStreet is a volunteer driven organization that is accredited through Florida and National Main Street Programs. VMS is united with over 1,000 other Main Street Communities across the country.
In coordination with Venice MainStreet mission, Emilio will steward the way to enlist more downtown merchants on the “Avenues”, business owners outside the downtown district, and ask for community memberships to form a more united Historic Downtown Venice.
Emilio and his wife Brenda Lee Carlesimo have lived in Venice 28 years. Elected to City Council in 2009, Emilio served two three year terms. He is currently a member of Epiphany Cathedral Catholic Church, serves on the Board of Trustees of Venice Regional Bayfront Health, as well as serves on the Advisory Board of the Salvation Army. Emilio is a retired Firefighter from the Detroit Fire Department after 28 years of service and a 13 year veteran of the Sarasota County Fire Department.
“Emilio’s commitment to Venice makes him the perfect candidate for the role of Membership Committee Chair,” says Erin Silk, Executive Director of Venice MainStreet. She adds, “Emilio has an enthusiasm for the preservation and promotion of our beautiful downtown that is obvious when he communicates the mission of Venice MainStreet.”
Venice MainStreet membership is comprised of supporting business members and community members. With a long list of yearly events and promotional activities, as well as the constant beautification efforts of the Avenues, the supporting members play a huge role in the prosperity of downtown.
So next time you see Emilio around town ask him about how you too can support Historic Downtown Venice through a yearly membership and help keep the magic of Venice alive.
Although many buildings in the downtown area look old, only those constructed during the 1920’s have been included in this tour. In 1987 the city recognized the need to continue the architectural character of the original city and established the Architectural Review Board. The downtown area is part of the Historic Venice District administered by this Board. Any new construction or modifications to the exterior façade of a building in this district must conform to guidelines established by this Board. These standards will ensure the continuation of the “Northern Italian Renaissance” style of architecture within the city. Because of these efforts, the City of Venice will continue to be the beautiful “City on the Gulf”.