Our History

The Pursuit of Excellence

his1The Beach Bistro was opened by Sean Murphy and his wife Susan Timmins in the fall of 1985. The opening was dramatic and traumatic, having emerged from the throes of a hurricane that pounded the windows of the Bistro’s waterfront location for three days. Sean, Susan, friends and family bailed and sand-bagged until exhausted, and only then could they return their attention to opening the restaurant on deadline – November 1. When Sean was asked why he was doggedly determined to open on schedule, he replied “We had spent all our money and were overdrawn by $800…Opening night, we took in $848.”

The Bistro’s focus from inception was perfection. One of Sean’s favorite advisories is, “If you pursue perfection you will achieve a high degree of excellence a good part of the time.”

The Bistro endeavors to procure the very best American food product and serve it at its best. The Bistro Serves only fresh grouper, Prime American beef, domestic lamb and the “best Smoked Salmon in the free world”.

The Bistro’s relentless pursuit of excellence in food and service earned immediate regional acclaim from the Sarasota Herald, the Tampa Tribune and the St. Petersburg Times. In the early 90s the Bistro was awarded its first Florida Trend Magazine’s Golden Spoon as one of the Top 20 Restaurants in Florida. Throughout the 90s the Bistro earned increasing recognition on the regional and national level and was consistently awarded the highest Zagat ratings in the region.

In September of 2005, Beach Bistro was invited to perform a James Beard Foundation dinner at the Beard House in New York, “the Temple” of American Culinary Art.

In 2006 the Bistro expanded the Bar and introduced a casual bar menu featuring The World’s Best Grouper Sandwich and the acclaimed Steak Sandwich. That same year, it also began offering a few outdoor tables for dining (When the weather is right, the Gulf views are spectacular).

Sean Murphy assisted in the opening of a Beach Bistro-style restaurant at the award-winning Concession Golf Course in eastern Manatee County in early November of 2009. Helping the Concession with their food operations, they also brought Concession chefs to the Beard House in November 2010, making it the first private club to present a dinner at the Beard House.

his2In 2010, Sean and Susan introduced another Anna Maria Island restaurant – eat here, a Gulf coast cookery serving an upscale-casual menu and craft beer from select micro-brewers.

In 2011, the Beach Bistro was once again awarded the top Zagat rating in food and service on the Gulf Coast of Florida. In November of that year, a second eat here location was opened in Sarasota, receiving rave reviews from the beginning.

The Beach Bistro is currently a ten-time recipient of Florida Trend Magazine’s Golden Spoon Award and has been enthroned in the Golden Spoon “Hall of Fame.” Its wine list regularly receives the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for offering “one of the best wine lists in the world” and it consistently receives the highest ZAGAT rating for food and service in the state of Florida. It is included in ZAGAT’s Top Restaurants in America and is lauded by the guide for “the best food on the Gulf Coast…as good as any in New York or Paris.”

Sean and company’s ambition has been the same throughout the Bistro’s thirty-one year history. That is, to provide you with one of the best dining experiences that you have ever had.

Award Highlights

Beard Invitation – September, 2005

Best Food and Service in Florida, Top Resstaurants in America
4.9 out of 5 stars...only one of eleven in the entire country

Golden Spoon Hall of Fame
Ten Golden Spoons

Award of Excellence: 12 years

“The Best Little Restaurant in Florida”

Los Angeles Times – “One of Florida’s best restaurants”
New York Times – “Remarkable smoked salmon…perfectly cooked grouper…beautiful wine list…fabulous sunsets over the Gulf”
Food & Wine – “Exceptional…almost like being at Sea”
Gourmet Magazine – “Most Romantic Restaurants in America”
St. Petersburg Times – “A treasure near the sea…best dining experience this year”
Tampa Tribune – “Area’s best restaurant”
Sarasota Herald – “A culinary wonderland”
Southern Living – “There’s not a more magical spot”
Bradenton Herald – “Most romantic restaurant…best restaurant; No restaurant has ever splendored me like the Beach Bistro has.”
Palm Beach Post – “Mouth-watering Bouillabaisse…worth the trip”

*Special attention has also been accorded to the Beach Bistro in recent features in Cooking Light magazine and Slammed, a restaurant feature magazine.