Tommy Klauber had found the perfect compromise. Or so he thought.
It was 2001 and Tommy, who owned Pattigeorge’s on Longboat Key at the time, had recently been approached by the Sarasota Polo Club about advertising in its polo magazine. Rather than buying an ad, Tommy asked if there was anyone that could give his wife, Jaymie Klauber, who used to ride horses, a few polo lessons.
He was given four-goal player Stuart Campbell’s number. Tommy called Stuart, who is one of the polo club’s top-rated players, and ended up buying Jaymie 10 lessons.
Tommy figured that would be the end of it. Little did he know that Jaymie had other ideas. Following those 10 lessons, she bought 10 more lessons and then another 10 lessons after that.
“He thought it would be kind of like the tennis lessons he got me where I would do a few and then get over it,” says Jaymie, who co-owns the Polo Grill and Bar, a Lakewood Ranch-based restaurant featuring American cuisine with a global soul, with her husband. “Instead, I ended up buying horses from Stuart and driving to the polo club every day from Longboat Key.”
“I should’ve bought the ad,” says Tommy with a laugh. “It would have saved me a lot of money.”
That was only the beginning. At that point, Jaymie would go out every day to ride and play polo. Although to really ride and play polo, you need more than one horse, says Jaymie, who was already boarding five horses with Stuart at the time.
Jaymie now has seven horses of her own — six of which play polo while the youngest is still in training.
“They all have to play polo, but they are cared for,” says Jaymie of her horses, which are in Virginia for the summer. “They have a good life. They are pretty spoiled.”
After spending years driving back and forth between Longboat Key and Lakewood Ranch, which at the time basically consisted of the Sarasota Polo Club, Northern Trust Bank and First Watch, Tommy and Jaymie bought a house in the Sarasota Polo Club in 2007.
That same year, the couple had the opportunity to purchase the building that had formerly been Fred’s for a very short period of time. It was Jaymie’s relationship with polo and love for horses that inspired the name for their new restaurant: Polo Grill and Bar.
The horse and polo theme carries throughout the entire restaurant from its custom horse logo to every piece of artwork, which is all horse inspired.
“It’s that passion and that love,” says Jaymie. “I think a lot of our clientele don’t realize there’s a true connection to the sport. It’s not just a name that we came up with.”
During polo season, which runs from December to April, several of the polo players have been known to frequent the Polo Grill and Bar while they are in town. The restaurant also has had various sponsorships and partnerships with the Sarasota Polo Club over the years.
It only makes sense since the Polo Grill and Bar and the Sarasota Polo Club frequently get calls for one another.
“They get calls for reservations all the time,” says Jaymie. “We just have a great partnership with them. We want to be the preeminent caterer and restaurant in relation to the polo club, so it’s nice to have a great relationship.”
In the 10 years since the Klaubers opened the Polo Grill and Bar, the restaurant has formed its own polo team and has a string of polo ponies.
While Jaymie likes any horse for any discipline, right now her passion resides in polo. There are so many elements to polo — from the horses themselves, to the adrenaline that comes from the speed and skill of the game, to the camaraderie and friendship that forms from living the polo lifestyle — all of which Jaymie loves.
Unlike Jaymie, who is a B.5-goal player, Tommy doesn’t play polo. Instead, he rides with Jaymie when they do big trail rides to the park. Although when it comes to caring for and packing the horses up, that’s all Jaymie.
“He’s a good rider, but he could take it or leave it whereas I will never leave it,” says Jaymie.