Restaurant kitchen

Meet Vernona Gourmet

ABOUT Me and Vernona Gourmet

My Dreams – I, Nikoletta Pongo, emigrated to Florida from my native Hungary in the mid-1990's, with a culinary degree, and dreams of establishing myself here in Sarasota's bustling hospitality community. Some 25 years of hard work and experience later, just such a dream opportunity presented itself to me – a prime location became available among the 138 storefronts on our world famous St. Armands Circle, at 40 South Boulevard of the Presidents.

My Passions – As a lover of the tastes and quality of the "Manhattan Style" gourmet markets and eateries, I decided to open the only St. Armands venue to uniquely feature those combined themes of using only the finest locally sourced fresh ingredients, then sell what I cook, and cook what I sell.

My Branding – In such a glamorous environment, as St. Armands, authenticity in branding goes hand in hand with perception and passion, thus "What's in a name?", is way more than just a catchy phrase. In fact, my chosen namesake ─ Vernona ─ is an homage to Sarasota's historic luxury hotel, "El Vernona John Ringling Towers", and its celebrated founding fathers John Ringling and Owen Burns, who built St. Armands Key, Bird Key, and the El Vernona, as Sarasota's gateway to luxury and style.

Vernona Gourmet – was born, tying my dreams and passions, to my historical branding. In fact, today, Vernona Gourmet represents five (5) special destinations for fun, food, and drink all in one 10,000 sq. ft. location including:
Retail Market – for grab-and-go or delivery of selections of prepared and uncooked Gourmet Foods, Household Staples, Gift Baskets, Collectable Gifts, and Ocean Boulevard Island Lifestyle Sportswear Creations.

Wine and Tobacco Store – for shop-in or delivery of selections of Fine Wines, Beers, Cigars, and Tobacco products
Bistro and Chophouse – serving scrumptious delights for casual Breakfast and Lunch, and fine-dining Dinner with live piano.

Vodka Bar – an all-day full liquor Bar and late night live Jazz Music Venue, featuring tasty Libations, a full Late Night Menu, and our great local jazz performers.

Artist Lounge – a special event, and lunch and dinner-time family friendly destination for tourists and local patrons to unwind, wine and dine, while enjoying four colorful and engaging gallery walls – featuring Ringling College fine artists commissioned original works for gallery sale.

My Mission and Pledge – Vernona Gourmet will always provide the very-best quality Foods and Beverages to you, my friends and families of visitors and local residents of the beautiful Sarasota area. I support both free membership programs and free delivery servicing St. Armands, Lido, Bird, Lido Shores, and South Longboat Keys, as well as Golden Gate Point and the Downtown Bayfront and Yacht Basins.