Pelican Alley Waterfront Restaurant & Bar

Photo courtesy of Pelican Alley Waterfront Restaurant & Bar.

End of the Line

Great food and drink with a story to tell!

February 2021

Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.

At Nokomis, Florida, as you cross the bridge on Albee Road that connects the mainland to Casey Key, down on the left you can see Pelican Alley Waterfront Restaurant & Bar. Present owner Robin Sweeney and the staff have been doling out great meals, specialty cocktails and outstanding service for lunches and dinners for more than three decades.

Today you can dine inside or out on the patio, enjoying a range of items from tapas, salads and soups, to seafood, chicken and streaks. All the while you have a great waterfront vista of Blackburn Bay. In the evenings, it is a great place for enjoying nature’s sunset light show. Drop by on a Friday and you can catch the “house band” Take 2 performing live music in the courtyard, as well.

Photos by Polly Dean.

As with many great eateries, Pelican Alley also features an interesting back story. In the early 1900s, the Chadwick family bought the site and built a fish house for the mullet business, along with a swinging bridge for reaching Casey Key.

Later on, Fred and Alice Sanders acquired the property and operated it as Gulf-n-Bay Fishing Resort. They also installed a large horseshoe shaped bar where they served meals from a modest menu. Additionally, the business offered fishing charters, all of which spawned the slogan on the side of the building, “Boats, Bait, Beer.”

The third owners were Robert and Janet Arbuckle, who renamed and remodel the facility as the Admiral’s Wardroom, a full-service restaurant. As the business prospered, the couple self-published a cook book titled The Admiral’s Wardroom Galley Book. They also asked one of their regular customers to write a foreword for the project.

That regular was John D. McDonald, who was living on nearby Siesta Key. McDonald is best remembered for his series of 21 novels featuring the iconic character Travis Magee, a self-described salvager and beach bum, who couldn’t pass up a good mystery.

Photos courtesy of Pelican Alley Waterfront Restaurant & Bar.

In 1981, Robin Sweeney bought the restaurant, and after extensive renovations opened it as Pelican Alley. After enduring floods, tropical storms and even hurricanes, one named Irma in 2017 finally caused irreparable damage, leading to a complete rebuild of the facility.

When you are in the area, Pelican Alley Waterfront Restaurant & Bar is well worth visiting. You might even run into one of ghosts that have been reported there over the last 30 years!

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