Boating: We are so 'lucky to be locals!'
May 25, 2011
“We've lengthened our happy hour an hour again,” said the manager of a popular waterfront bar/restaurant on San Carlos Island to me at the Taste of the Beach. They had taken the hour away at the beginning of the season to discourage the local trade from tying up valuable seats needed by the tourists, I think.
She is one of the bright spots in local restaurant management so I just smiled and promised to come by someday. What I wanted to say was, “Now that the moneyed winter visitors have gone back North, your owners want 'we' locals to frequent your establishment.” I didn't because she has no control over such matters.
We are so lucky to be locals at this time of the year because we are so welcomed everywhere. Even 'PutnBay South' had a locals’ appreciation day last Sunday. That surprised even me but they need to do something until the Ohioans return.
One would think that our loyalty would not be overlooked next fall/winter. Until someone comes up with a real 'local discount card' we will revert to second-class citizens once again in October. Tim's Place tried the concept but it was too late. Not every place has ignored us. Most local restaurants and bars still had early bird specials that started immediately after lunch and several had their regular happy hours but started them too early and ended them way too early for anyone still working.
Kudos to many like Matanzas Inn, Parrot Key, Big Game Waterfront Grill, the Fish Monger and Nervous Nellie’s for maintaining their schedule. Although the seating was a little tight in most of those places, locals were encouraged to rub elbows and sometimes tushes, unintentionally I swear, with the swells. I have one heart felt suggestion; while the Fish Monger Restaurant is closed this summer will they please knock a wall out and make the bar a little bigger!
There will be a lot of changes this summer. One place is considering becoming a Reggae Country Western place. I hope they will not have competing band nights! Trying new things is exciting. What do you think of a mechanical bull? I suggested a Polish Polka night but the young manager just couldn't get his mind around a rendition of “In heaven there is no beer, that's why we drink it here, ooomp-papa!”
I don't know about all the places but, in my job as a working columnist, I have to frequent most waterfront places. No kidding, it's my job! Anyway we are so blessed to be locals this time of year. For instance I was warmly greeted by a hostess the other day whom I assumed was angry with me but now I know she was just too busy all winter.
The shock of all shocks came when a bartender actually bought me a drink and went into his tip jar to pay for it. But these times also have their downside. Since there are so many places trying to serve an increasingly dwindling resource our club members can roam free. The upside is that we have great stories of far off and interesting places.
Commodore Jim is making the maximum use of the waterway now that the traffic has decreased. He is setting his course for far off places like Barnacle Phil's and other flat-earthers' favorites. He might even make it to Naples Yacht Club one more time before battening down the boat before heading to the frozen north, Pensacola Beach.
We, as a club, will miss about 90 percent of our “Dead End Canal Yacht Club” members but good riddance I always say. The hearty souls who stay will have our own adventures. Cleveland Jack is going to lead a cruising rendezvous to a new restaurant way down on Bonita Beach road. He is completely competent to be cruise director because he was able to navigate unmarked Fish Trap Bay and reach Coconut Jacks without blistering the ears of small children sitting underneath the huge Tiki hut!
'Tim the Restorer' is fishing a big Hatteras Sport's Fish this summer and we may have a fishing adventure, too! Life is good!
The stay home club members will survive by purchasing half priced dining certificates to waterfront bars and finding the best happy hour. I have my favorites! What about you? I'd like to hear from you 'lucky locals' about where your favorite summer waterfront hangout is going to be. Go to boaterstreasures.com and vote on it. We'll draw a few lucky names and award a few gift certificates.
Stay cool and well hydrated this summer, and I'll see you about!
Boatguy Ed is a retired bottom paint maker and is currently a volunteer extra on his son's Boater's Treasures television show that sells half priced dining certificates, www.boaterstreasures.com. Send your comments to boatguiEd@aol.com!