It's not on the tour, but we love it so much we had to mention it here -- The Main Bar Sandwich Shop is a delicious slice of Sarasota's past! The Main Bar was established as a sandwich shop in 1958 by retiring circus performers Antonio (Charlie) Borza and his wife Thea. Inspired by her home town of Florence, Italy, Thea created what has now become the “Famous Italian.”
Charlie and Thea had both been born into circus families and performed with the circus both in europe and the Middle East, Charlie as a trampoline artist and Thea as a bareback horse rider. In the early 1940’s the Borzas were brought to this country by the Ringling Brothers Circus.
When they sold the Main bar in 1972, the Borzas left an amazing collection of pictures which are hanging on the Main Bar's walls today! These photos pay tribute to many of the fine circus performers with whom they worked or came to know in their careers. Many of these photographs were left by their son Peppi who became an established theatrical performer in New York and London.
Today, The Main Bar Sandwich Shop is owned and operated by Chip and Kate Beeman. Chip and Kate have maintained The Main Bar as the institution that it has become in Sarasota. Although the Famous Italian Sandwich is more popular now than it was in 1958 when it was first introduced by Charlie and Thea, The Main Bar Sandwich Shop now offers over 50 different sandwiches to choose from.
While many of these sandwiches (and soups) are delicious, you shouldn't miss the Famous Italian -- the Main Bar's feature item for over 50 years: Salami, ham, provolone cheese, tomatoes, chopped peppers, onions and a unique blend of oil, garlic & spices on a toasted bun.
We encourage you to visit the Main Bar, have a Famous Italian, enjoy the incredible collection of photos of circus performers on the walls and spend a delightful hour or two exploring Sarasota's circus history in a modern day link to its fascinating past.