Marco’s venerable Steak and Lobster house gets a new home

Tara Steak and Lobster House

969 North Collier Boulevard, Marco

Tara Steak and Lobster House, a popular Marco restaurant for the past ten years, is moving to bigger, brighter digs, the Esplanade.

In short, Tara will retain the steak and gain some serious sizzle.

Owner-operator Tara Trevethan and her partners, mom Jeannie and general manager Marco Porto, already are working daily to get the new venue ready, the airy, upscale bar, kitchen and dining rooms that used to be Vergina.

Physically, the move from Tara’s original location at Bald Eagle Drive and Collier Boulevard to The Esplanade is less than 600 yards down Collier. But the impact of the move on Tara’s business should be huge.

Tara lights up with excitement when she talks about it.

“It’s just great, with that spectacular water view, more space for dining indoors and now we’ll have 60 seats in the outside courtyard we never had before,” Tara says. The extra space, in and out, will yield room for about 160 more seats than in Tara’s old location. “In our other place we were kind of the dark steak house, almost cave-like. Now it’s so nice to have a spacious, bright, place with the great view.”

“Also, the kitchen is like new and gives us a more streamlined, efficient operation for chefs and servers.”

Fans of Tara’s will recognize the same high-end food and service, but with some new features in food and facilities.

“We’re putting a live lobster tank in the front window everybody can see the lobsters swimming around and diners can choose the one they want.”

She laughed when I joked that they might also have livestock walking around so diners can choose their own beef.

“Well we certainly would have room for it,” she said, laughing but shaking her head.

The new restaurant will have a large, temperature-controlled wine rack in the bar area, with 3,000 bottles available. It’s another example of Tara emphasizing the classy nature of the place. The restaurant has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, six years in a row.

Tara gives all the credit for that to Porto. “He’s the one who knows the wine and handles it all, plus his many other duties. We are great partners,” she says.

Tara and her restaurant neighbors across the plaza share enthusiasm for the move.

“I think we’ll be a benefit to the other restaurants, helping bring more people to The Esplanade,” Tara explains. “And it’s terrific to have great neighbors there, such as Jacquie and Curt Koon, owners of the Bayview and The Bar. We have very good relationships with them and their chef, Laura Owen. We can complement and depend on each other.”

“It’s a really smart, hand-in-hand partnership there. Bayview is changing its name soon and making other changes and upgrades now and it all just fits.”

Curt and Jacquie Koon are equally pleased that Tara is moving in across the plaza. Owners of both restaurants note that the menus and venues are very different and will appeal to different diners at different times.

“It’s going to be good for everybody to have Tara’s fine restaurant here,” Jacquie says. “The other places here at The Esplanade will benefit and islanders and tourists will find a great variety of places to eat, drink and have fun.”

Tara has been serving islanders for 10 years, a lifetime in the restaurant business. And Tara is only 28. But she’s no neophyte to the restaurant business. As Chris Curle reported in an Eagle profile last year:

She was a restaurant prodigy who’s been in the food business here since she was 14.

“When we moved to Florida in 1994 I didn’t know what to do,” Tara tells me. “I went around the island and remember some of owners of small boutiques telling me, ‘you’re too young,’ or ‘you have no experience.’ I was frustrated.”

Tara took an office job to keep busy, but she “hated” stuffing envelopes so she kept looking.

“I saw a help wanted sign in the window at Kahuna restaurant. They were looking for bussers. Tom Blodgett, who interviewed me, said, ‘Don’t worry kid, I’ll teach you what you need to know, so you’re hired.’ ”

“I started bussing tables and got pretty good money for a girl just starting high school. I worked my way up. Within a month I was waiting tables and when (the owner) went on trips, I had the keys, made the deposits and helped managed the restaurant.

“I fell in love with every part of it and then we (she and her parents) decided to do our own. We opened Andre’s, now Tara, in 1998.”

And now she is moving her baby, so to speak, her life’s work, to a venue that potentially offers one of the island’s best known locations. Other eating places include Guy Harvey’s Island Grill, Cold Stone Creamery and Starbucks.

Tara is scheduled to open for business at its new Esplanade location by mid-September. And Tara is planning a celebration, a grand opening, in early October. The phone number for reservations is the same as always: 394-0212. The website:

As Tara works to make the transition, she stops to remember a day 10 years ago when she, her mother and her late father saw a model of The Esplanade in the developer’s office in Naples.

“Dad thought it would be a great place to put our restaurant, but it just wasn’t something we could do at that time,” Tara says. “Now, we’ve come full circle and we will be where dad wanted us to be. Mom and I think dad is watching over us and smiling.”

Note: Don Farmer and Chris Curle will have much more in their Marcophile column in next Wednesday’s Eagle about the many changes coming to the Bayview at The Esplanade.

© 2008 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Comments » 24

freedomofspeech1 writes:

Hope your not biting off more than you can chew...The Esplanade.....where good restaurants go to fail....

hourigan82247 writes:

Oh goody!! Now you can get a $200.00 meal. The Esplanade will turn Tara's into a "rentsturant".

palm789 writes:

Good Luck Tara's, great location for a great restaurant!

happyonmarco writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

matilda writes:

Bravo Tara!!!!
Don't listen to these idiots who have not negotiated your rent. Clearly if a good restaurant had been in your new location they would still be there.I have eaten at your restaurant for years and I am very excited that my wait time will be less because of increased seating. I am so very proud of you to be so brave as to increase the employment base in such a market, clearly you are doing it right.I makes me wonder how well their business is doing in this economy.You are upgrading. Are they downsizing? And yes I have also paid $200 for diner in your Zagat rated and did order from your Wine Spectator Preferred wine list and had a great time and a great meal. That is what I would expect for $200. I have only one question, are these people s-----?

juliesmithe22 writes:

Wow - From their comment it doesn't seem like happyonmarco is too happy - maybe it should be bitteronmarco? Can you control the actions of others? If you know Tara or if you are a customer of her & her mother, than you know exactly what genuine, sincere people they are. It is a shame no one can toast their success or wish them well. I am looking forward to my Porterhouse on the water & I am sure I'm not the only one. This Island amazes me - most of you are fake, jealous, & miserable, & have nothing to do but gossip.

Marcosnook03 writes:

Finally, a high end restaurant on the water in Marco. Instead of dining at these tourist dive spots which front the water; we now have an option. It's downright amazing it's taken this long for a quality steak house to be on the water on this island. You were to good for that "cave" and now should kick some serious tail at the new spot!!!!!

smiley writes:

I hope that during the remodeling process, they got rid of that old "Vergina" smell.

denvervacationqueen writes:

It's great to know that we can finally get a quality meal at the Esplanade. We have dined at Tara's several times and have truly enjoyed our experience. You will definately be our first choice of dining establishments when we return in November.

chucklesallen writes:

How exciting & what a great facility for Tara's! We have been customers for over 8 years, & are thrilled to hear of the move. Her restaurant is just what the Esplanade needs - a family owned, high calibur, consistent, high quality food/service establishment. Save me that Bone-in Filet & some of your jumbo stone crabs when I get down in October.

jerseygirl7447 writes:

Hi Tara - Your Father would be so proud of you! Good luck in your new venture - I think the Esplanade is the perfect spot for your steakhouse. Do not let any of the negative comments get to you. You know as we were taught in Jersey - take care of your family, you, & your business. Remember you have a tremendous customer base & following - you'll do great. Save the Espinoza family some seats. Can't wait to see you!

hourigan82247 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

pitbulllover39 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

juliesmithe22 writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

hourigan82247 writes:

Hey Julie... Looks like you be uneduated!!!!! Have you ever tried proof-reading what you type? It'll keep people from finding out how uneduated you dorks are!!!

chucklesallen writes:

She may have missed the spell check button, but she is right about you - click on hourigan82247 & see pages & pages of comments by the biggest dork!!! Anyone that spends his entire day writing rude/crude comments to every story in the paper definitely has no life, & never made anything of himself. In one of your comments you said you were 60 so I guess the Cialis would have been prescribed except you didn't need it since you are on the computer so much - your girlfriend obviously must be floating around in cyber space too. You have to be the most pompous a-- on this Island to think that your crap doesn't stink & that your comments are the most profound writing since Confucius.

hourigan82247 writes:

Well, well, well! Chucklestheclown must sit around all day perusing my jocular witisisms so he can verbally spew them to his equally pompous friends at his consistantly boring cocktail parties! Please ,you and Julie get in the habit of proof-reading your self-effacing nonsense! You dork!!!

chucklesallen writes:

Well, well, well woman of allegedly ill reputeigan82247 - Awww...Have you collected your $.50 per word. Boy you have to stroke that ego considering you can't get help from Cialis to stroke other things. Maybe you need to get laid or have somebody else suck your rooster so you are not always the rooster sucker. By the way nothing is spelled wrong in my above posting - maybe you need to look up Confucius.

belovedrichie writes:

Hmmmm - Just wanting to review this article. Some of this banter sounds all too familiar. Would any of you happen to care for a Stoli Elite, Warre's 77, Chateau Mouton Rothscild, or a Marlboro Red? Wow. Life is too short for all of these childish exchanges. Just have a cocktail, relax, & stop trying to get more insane reactions from each other.

hourigan82247 writes:

Chucklestheclown keeps talking about Cialis; he must be the Coronado Ct. supplier!

Sailor writes:

hourigan, now that your blogs have had ZERO impact on our fine city council you feel the need to start attacking honest, hard-working business owners. Get a life you sorry loser!!

Best of luck Tara.

hourigan82247 writes:

Just keep paying your inflated taxes; compliment of YOUR fine city council, and you won't be able to afford YOUR steak at Tara's. By the way... I have a life, and evidently it involves making yours miserable!!! Sailor, my boy!!!

lovemarco writes:

Hourigan needs to get a life, even though he/she/it claims to have one. Tara deserves all the support from all of us who enjoyed her old location. Richie would be proud of her. It will be a great location and a great addition to the Esplanade. Between Tara being there and the new, improved "Bayview" and the Bar, Marco finally has a waterfront gathering place for all of us. I look forward to whiling away many hours there with friends of common interests.

hardbone86 writes:

I am not one to comment much. But after reading some of the unnecessary comments by Hourigan (or is it houligan?) I feel I should. Sir, leave Tara alone as she forges ahead with her life. While its probably true that your own life is filled with regret and disappointment, others still have dreams. Your negativity is sad. Even though I detest your barrage of insulting comments, I'll still feel sad when I hear about your untimely suicide. There are places to get help Hourigan. There are places where you can get your life back on track. Find these places soon or you will remember my words as you slip the belt around your neck and hang yourself from a ceiling fan. There is still time, even for a bitter fool like you.

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