Captivans Recall Restaurants of Days Gone By
[Excerpts from an article by Jeff Lysiak in the Island Sun]
Last Tuesday evening, the Captiva Island Historical Society (CIHS) kicked off its 2018 schedule of special events with Serving Up Memories of Captiva's Old Time Eateries, a look back at the restaurants that helped make the island famous or are finely remembered by long-time residents.
In front of a standing room only crowd at the Captiva Civic Center, five legendary local restauranteurs - Andreas Bieri, Freddie D'Amelia, Victor Mayeron, Jeff Shuff and Sherrill Sims - held court by answering questions and sharing stories about their exploits and experiences of the island's restaurant life during the 1960s through 1990s.
LuAnn Martin, a Captiva mainstay who worked at Cap 'n Al's, The Bubble Room and The Mucky Duck, served as moderator and emcee for the program.
Throughout the evening the panelists spun yarns about their heydays working at restaurants including Timmy's Nook, No Name Cafe, South Seas Plantation, The Greenhouse, Bellini's, Sunshine Cafe, LaVendee, King's Crown, Mucky Duck, Viva and others.
Sims talked about the days when her restaurant used to offer a $12.99 meal special that included free wine. That's because the eatery had not yet acquired a liquor license.
"I used to hang out at Timmy's Nook when I came here," said Shuff. "I needed a job, and the owner asked me if could cook ... I didn't have any cooking experience. But how could it be? So I told him, 'Yeah, I can cook.'"
D'Amelia still longs for the days when his restaurant (Bellini's) used to invite all islanders to a free night of sampling some of his menu items, while Mayeron talked about how The Mucky Duck was famous for offering every diner a window seat.
The 90-minute gathering also included stories of a stolen safe found on the beach, flooding of restaurants along Andy Rosse Lane during a tropical storm in 1985 and gunshots going off upstairs at The Bubble Room.
Another highlight of the evening was the number of celebrities that dined on Captiva way back when. Of course, everybody's favorite celebrity was local Robert Rauschenberg, whose dog frequently found its way into The Mucky Duck.
"I've worked at The Mucky Duck more than half my life," said Martin. People I used to wait on, now I'm serving their children ... and their children's children. I'm amazed because they keep getting older, but I don't."
Prior to the start of the "Serving Up Memories Of Captiva's Old-Time Eateries" event the audience enjoyed a slide show of images of Captiva's restaurant history.
To view the slide show click the red button below!