Indian Pass Raw Bar

Feature photo courtesy of Indian Pass Raw Bar.

End Of The Line

Port St. Joe, Florida

This part of Florida’s Panhandle Gulf shore often is referred to as the Forgotten Coast. But anytime you drive by the Indian Pass Raw Bar on Gulf County Road 30A just south of the town of Port St. Joe, it’s obvious that this establishment hasn’t been neglected. Especially in the evenings, you find a crowd milling about out front, enjoying a bit of entertainment while waiting to sample the cold drinks and great seafood inside.

The history of the raw bar can sort of be traced back to 1903, when a turpentine business established a commissary and company store in the area.  Then in 1929 the present building was erected and the store moved to take advantage of the new highway that had been constructed. Starting in the early 1930s, the raw bar General Manager Jim McNeill’s grandmother, Mrs. Gypsy McNeill, began serving lunches and catering dinner soirees in the eastern side of the building.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Meanwhile, the family was heavily involved in the oyster industry, as well. In 1986 Hurricane Kate crashed through the area, wiping out the wholesale oyster business. The McNeills found themselves with too many oysters to eat, but not enough for the wholesale trade. Thus, the Indian Pass Raw Bar was spawned.

As it turned out, Mother Nature was not through with this part of the coast. On October 11, 2018, most of Gulf County was devastated by Hurricane Michael, leaving just the shell of the raw bar standing. After a complete remodel, the restaurant was reopened by June of 2019.

However, the next test was the Covid-19 onslaught that again closed the restaurant’s doors. Happily, by June of 2020 the Indian Pass Raw Bar was again offering up no-frills, come-as-you-are straight off the water, hospitality to locals and visitors alike.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

The ordering process here is a throw back to simpler times. To begin with, the cooler and beer taps are open on the honor system. When you check in with the hostess, you get a tally sheet on which to record your beverages. Then you are free to grab beer, wine, and tea, as well as soft and fruit drinks from the cooler.

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

Once seated, you again get a check list to mark what you’d like to eat. Those choices are displayed on a chalk board for your perusal. Needless to say, fresh oysters figure prominently on the menu. In fact, the raw bar’s slogan is “Our oysters slept in the bay last night.” You also have non-seafood choices, as well as Key lime pie, cheese cake and ice cream desserts.

Bottom line here is that a visit to the Apalachicola to Port St. Joe area is not complete without a stop at the Indian Pass Raw Bar.

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