Press Releases and News
The Herald Tribune. supplement section. September 2004 (Author Sondra Guffey)
After Scotland natives Malcolm and Karen Ronney chose Lakewood Ranch for their new business site, they also decided to make it home. “We embraced the vision of live, work and play at Lakewood Ranch,” says the Greenbrook Fields couple. When Main Street opens in 2005, their restaurant, MacAllisters On The Ranch, will be the only one of its kind in the country.
Karen and Malcolm, both in their early 30’s, already enjoyed success in the hospitality business in Scotland. From 1996-2003, they owned and operated a hotel, bar and restaurant in the golf town of Troon, Scotland, which is about the size of Lakewood Ranch and the surrounding communities. In 1999, 2000 and 2001 their establishment was a finalist for Restaurant of the Year in Scotland.
Sarasota had been a favorite vacation spot for the Ronney’s when they discovered a Sarasota-Scotland connection. “Every time we came here we felt at home,” says Karen. “Everybody we meet has a story of a relative from Scotland. We love it! We look forward to our grandchildren someday telling friends how their grandparents immigrated to America”.
The Scottish connection began in 1885 when a number of families came from Scotland to settle in the area. The next year, the Scottish colonists, along with the American settlers in the area, platted the town of Sarasota. One Scot, John Hamilton Gillespie, became the town’s first mayor. He also built (behind his house) one of the first golf courses in the United States!
Last year, the Ronneys, who have been married for nearly ten years, decided to make the Sarasota area their home. After hearing about the plans for Main Street and seeing the potential, they decided to sell their business in Scotland and start from scratch at Lakewood Ranch. MacAllisters restaurant will serve casual American food in contemporary Scottish surroundings. The primary theme will be golf. After all, Scotland is the birthplace of golf – where the first round was played in 1457.
This is mainstream American food with a Scottish twist,” assures Malcolm. “There’ll be something for everyone in the family to enjoy.” The Ronney’s will hire an American chef, but help him or her understand some of the Scottish styles and traditions. The décor will feature memorabilia from their homeland.
One of the things that sets MacAllisters apart is us – our personalities. We’re going to be very visible – working,” notes Karen. “Malcolm loves to work the bar, and I’ll work the front. Patrons like the fact that they can talk to the owners. The staff is inspired by or own passion for the business.”
The Ronney’s also promise theme nights, fun events, take out meals, gift vouchers, loyalty cards and many other services people expect in a top quality establishment. They’ll even have a directory of family histories covering clans and heritage of names. Tables within the restaurant will be named either after a malt whisky or a golf course, and plaques will tell the story of that particular malt whisky or golf course.
So start researching your Scottish heritage, learn how to wear a kilt or work on your knowledge of golf history, and you’ll be ready for the MacAllisters experience. You’ll find it in Main Street, right in the heart of Lakewood Ranch.