July 23, 2020
This article is about Siple's Garden Seat, a restaurant that no longer exists except in fond memory. It operated in Clearwater at 1234 Druid Hills Road for more than 70 years.
Florida Trend is a business magazine that was founded in 1958. Years ago - in a time before Yelp and Tripadvisor - the magazine was the place to read reviews about the finest restaurants in Florida.
Every year they give "Golden Spoon" awards to the best restaurants in Florida. Siple's Garden Seat was always a contender for best restaurant in Florida and was voted Florida's best restaurant 10 times.
Siples was located on 3 shaded acres overlooking Clearwater Bay. It was known as a "fine dining" restaurant specializing in American and Continental cuisine.
The history of the old building goes back to the 1920s when Dick Siple's grandmother created a dining room for locals in the then small community of Clearwater.
The restaurant remained in the family for the duration of its life. In the 1960s Dick Siple took over restaurant operations from his mother. This made him the third generation of the family to manage it.
Dick and his wife LaVerne retired from the restaurant in 1990 and sold the building to Morton Plant Hospital for $2 million and later donated half of that back to the hospital.
The restaurant was right across the street from the hospital. The hospital used the building for educational purposes.
Dick Siple became a very active volunteer for the hospital and at one time held the record for most hours ever contributed by a volunteer.
When the building became too expensive for renovation and maintenance, the hospital demolished it and used the property as a parking lot and future hospital expansion site.
And now I'm sharing this memory because I really liked the place.