Sarasota Square mall down to 3 food court restaurants

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Villa Italian Kitchen and Brow Art 23 are gone, and a new art gallery has moved in

Westfield Sarasota Square is down to just three food court restaurants.

Villa Italian Kitchen has officially left the south Sarasota mall at U.S. 41 and Beneva Road. The restaurant’s sign is gone, and soda machine caps and a hastily covered menu board are the only signs that anything had ever been there.

READ MORE: Sarasota-Manatee retail news

Panda Express and Hibachi-San left in January, and now that Villa is gone, just Perry’s BBQ, Charleys Philly Steaks and Chick-fil-A remain in the food court. Sit-down restaurant Prime Serious Steak left at the end of March, which means that Barefoot Bar and Grill is the only sit-down eatery at the mall.

Villa has 23 locations in Florida, including one in Tampa at Westfield Citrus Park. The restaurant has been getting a lot of traction on social media over the past few days after announcing it would start selling just pizza crusts as a menu option at select locations starting July 18.

Another recent Sarasota Square departure is Brow Art 23, an eyebrow threading boutique that has a location at the Mall at University Town Center at Interstate 75 and University Parkway. The salon, which was next to the old Candy Barrel storefront, was boarded up this week.

One new addition is an art gallery, New Wave, which is across from Victoria’s Secret. Until this point, Westfield has concentrated its art gallery tenants at Sarasota Square’s sister mall, Westfield Siesta Key, but now it seems that the idea has been extended to the south Sarasota property.

Discover, share and discuss the latest openings and changes in the Herald-Tribune’s Sarasota-Manatee Retail News Facebook group.

Stores that have left so far this year include Candy Barrel, Express, Champs Sports, the South Trail Performance CrossFit gym, FYE, Forever 21 Red, Yankee Candle and the previously mentioned restaurants. New tenants include Armageddon Laser Tag and BaoAce.

Westfield Sarasota Square has an AMC movie theater and is anchored by Costco and J.C. Penney. Anchor stores Macy’s and Sears both closed in 2017.

Future plans for the mall are unclear. There has been talk of building affordable housing units on top of the mall, but the situation is complicated by having multiple property owners on-site.

Mall owner Unibail Rodamco Westfield did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Villa and Brow Art 23 also did not respond.

Store closures at malls have become increasingly common across the U.S. as brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to adapt to the increasing dominance of e-commerce. A 2017 report from global financial services company Credit Suisse predicted that 20% to 25% of U.S. malls will close by 2022.

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