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History of Euphemia Haye Restaurant

Best Restaurant on Longboat Key

In 1974, Raymond Arpke was the chef at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort on Longboat Key where he met his future wife, D’Arcy. Shortly thereafter, Chef Ray became the head chef at the area’s most prestigious restaurant, L’Europe Restaurant located on Sarasota’s St. Armands Circle. As a chef, Ray felt that by working at this restaurant, he was at the top of the game. The next step up would be for he and D’Arcy to own a restaurant together – Ray would handle the cooking and D’Arcy would handle the business operations end of things. Chef Ray and D’Arcy began to search for a restaurant to call their own. For five years, they looked in the Sarasota area and they even looked up north in the Midwest where they are both originally from. Nothing came about…until 1980 when Longboat Key restaurant insiders began to whisper that a cozy little restaurant named Euphemia Haye might just be for sale…for the right buyers. Luckily, Chef Ray and D’Arcy were the right buyers.

Euphemia Haye was originally opened in 1975 by an electrical engineer named Leslie “Les” R. Buntin. Euphemia Haye is the name Buntin’s grandmother who was also a fantastic cook. He named the restaurant after her in affectionate memory of the woman who raised him and his two brothers from childhood. As an engineer, Les had traveled around the world–he went to China with President Nixon and South American with Frank Sinatra. On these travels, he discovered international fare that inspired him to go into the restaurant business.  His goal was to create a dining establishment that would combine a warm, friendly ambiance with outstanding service and an imaginative menu using the finest foods available. He opened the restaurant in 1975 and it was an instant hit on Longboat Key. After five years of operating the restaurant primarily as a one-man show, he decided that he had taken on too much.

In 1980, when Ray had nights off from L’Europe, he Ray would teach a cooking class at a gourmet kitchen store called “Soup to Nuts” that was located in Longboat Key’s Whitney Plaza. One night, Les came to the class and offered Ray some intriguing information. “He quietly let me know that the restaurant was for sale and he made it work.” says Ray happily. At that point, the stars seemed to have lined up for Chef Ray and D’Arcy – Les wanted them to be the ones to continue on with the restaurant he so loved. D’Arcy says, “For Les, it was like handing over his child. We had big shoes to fill. We just hit the ground running and we didn’t look back!”

With just 28 seats, the restaurant was acquired by Raymond and D’Arcy Arpke who elected to retain the restaurant’s name after they purchased it. They also resolved to maintain the same exacting standards while introducing their own unique touches. Les handed down many of the restaurant’s classic recipes. Many of the original dishes are still served but have been tweeked and updated by Chef Ray over the years such as the Roasted Duck, Caesar Salad, Gamberetti e Capellini or the Lamb Shank. The restaurant’s cuisine is a combination of international and contemporary dishes which reflect Chef Ray’s individual creative skills.

Starting with only 28 seats in 1980, Ray and D’Arcy have slowly added space to the downstairs area including a bar and a total of 76 seats. In 1992, they transformed the upstairs of the resaurant into the Haye Loft. It was once three apartments, the largest of which belonged to Les. The design of the Haye Loft is true to the style of the original apartment and its decor, so guests can really feel like they’re hanging out in a swanky, bachelor pad.

We hope that you enjoy our restaurant and all of the love that has been put into it throughout the years.