Disclaimer: 

Raymmar Tirado and BYP3 have no affiliation to the Sarasota Young Professionals (other than as a member) or the Sarasota Chamber of Commerce, board of directors or their leadership. I am an active young professional, I sit on a number of local committees and boards and am writing this article as an individual who was offended and insulted by a well known business in downtown Sarasota last night.

A group of more than 100 young professionals were asked to leave in the middle of their scheduled monthly networking event. 

Lets back up for a second

The event started out like every other YPG networking event. Mattison’s is a great venue, they always get a great turnout from the Sarasota Young Professionals Group (YPG) and this event was no different. More than a hundred local young professionals from all over Sarasota came out to enjoy some good food, great networking and maybe a drink or two with friends and colleagues.

It didn’t take long for the place to fill up, to the point where walking around was difficult without running in to people in every direction. At one point there was a group of us standing next to the bar and we were asked to move because we were “blocking” the path to the kitchen. We didn’t really think much of it but this was just a harbinger of what would be coming soon.

Word starts to spread

At about 6:30 (halfway through our scheduled event) one of the YPG board members came around telling people that we were being asked to clear out by 7. I thought this was a joke as I couldn’t imagine a restaurant kicking out such a large group of paying customers, especially when you take in to account that the event had been on the books for a few months at the very least by this point. The YPG has held the event at Mattson’s a number of times in the past and all of their afterhours networking events go from 5:30 to 7:30, ALWAYS!

Turns out there was nothing funny about it, Mattison’s was in fact kicking us out. I later found out that they were even telling people who were showing up that they would have to be out by 7. Turns out they had a band coming in and had taken reservations for the tables in the area that had been set aside for the networking event.

It was all part of a master plan

In talking with a long standing YPG member and former chairman of the YPG board I found out that in years past they (YPG) had actually requested to have the event on the other side of the restaurant which would give the group more room, allow Mattison’s to serve the people who were there as regular patrons and make everyone happy. Oh, and not have to worry about people “blocking” the path to the kitchen.

It wasn’t until we started to get kicked out that I realized that this had all been planned out strategically. It’s actually pretty smart, but I have a feeling it might turn out to have been too smart for their own good. They had to know exactly what they were doing which almost makes me more incensed. If they had given us the other side of the restaurant they would not have been able to seat people in that section and since they had reservations coming later on, they would have had to keep some of the tables clear to make sure they’d be able to honor their reservations which would have dramatically reduced their ability to make as much money off of the YPG before finally kicking us out.

By putting us where they did it allowed them to seat all the tables on the other side of the bar, get all the money they could out of the young professionals before kicking us out and seating their RSVP’s. It was a greedy and arrogant strategy and I spoke to a number of the YP’s and none of them were happy with the way it all went down.

Apparently our money is not good enough

It was made abundantly clear last night that Mattisons is only interested in the young professionals of this town as placeholders for their obviously more important clientele. Our money is not welcome there and I for one won’t spend another dime at this or any of their other locations.

The clincher for me was when they got on the microphone and literally told us to get out. As if kicking us out was not good enough, they decided to let the whole restaurant know they were doing it. I tried to talk to the manager (Roger Main who I think was the mastermind behind the entire debacle) but he just played stupid like we hadn’t been scheduled to be there until 7:30.

The last thing you want to do, in a town that struggles to retain a younger population and maintain a vibrant downtown night life, is turn away the young professionals in your community. We are the next generation of leaders and business owners, politicians and policy makers and this was one huge slap to the face of some of the most well respected and well connected young professionals in Sarasota.

Shame on you Mattison’s for everything that happened last night. 

Were you there last night? Let them know they screwed up. Take a moment to leave some negative feedback on some of the major review sites. 

Leave a review on Yelp
Leave a review on trip advisor

Please leave your comments below and let me know what you thought about the event and if you think this a symptom of the city or if it is just a poor business decision on behalf of Matisons!

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