SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – Lovers of southern comfort food and blues are getting their final fix at Blue Rooster in Sarasota’s Rosemary District. Phones at the local bar and restaurant have been ringing off the hook following a recent announcement.
After nearly ten years in business, owner Bill Cornelius said the business will close its doors April 30.
“My wife and I are retiring. I’m going to be 71 in June. I want to go out and have some fun,” said the business owner.
Cornelius bought the 4th Street property formerly housing an antique store back in 2010, with a vision and dream to create a blues bar. The business has been a raving success over the years and a go-to spot for many locals. During season, they turn away people just about every night of the week.
The 70-year-old businessman is selling the property to a developer.
“He is going through the due diligence process right now, but he plans to keep the Blue Rooster exactly how it is and next door on both sides he wants to put retail with five floors of either condos or apartments on top of that,” explained Cornelius.
The sale is expected to close in the summer of 2023.
He’s hoping to lease the space out in the meantime and would be happy to see it stay as is.
“I love it here. All the artwork and the sound system is great. Hopefully the people that have always come here can continue to come here so they won’t hate me so much for deciding to retire because I’ve definitely gotten that vibe from quite a few people,” said Cornelius.
The building sits in a part of the city that has transformed over the years. At the time Cornelius purchased the building, he says some were questioning his decision.
“The local real estate experts thought I was foolish to pay what I’ve paid for this. I knew that the city only had one way to expand because on the southside and west side there is water and the only way it could expand was going north. It’s worked out really well,” said Cornelious.
The 70-year-old plans to enjoy time traveling with his wife and spending more time with family and grandchildren who live out of state. He explained time off is limited as an owner in the bar and restaurant industry.
Cornelius got emotional talking about what Blue Rooster means to him. He told 8 On Your Side he’s most proud of the diverse group of customers and employees they’ve had over the years. He said it’s always been a welcoming atmosphere to anyone and everyone looking for live music and good food.
“That is what Sarasota needs. They need people feeling love for each other and that is what I am most proud of,” said the business owner.