Photo by Jimmy Jacobs
End of the Line
by Jimmy Jacobs
For sure the Olde Fish House lives up to the standard of truth in advertising. When established in the 1930s it was, indeed, a fish house where local commercial fishermen brought their catch to sell. Today it has a marina, a restaurant and a seafood market.
Located in downtown Matlacha, Florida on Pine Island Road, this eatery has a direct connection to its past. When present owner Lisa Dence opened the doors, she was and still is committed to only buying and serving the local catch. The fishermen, shrimpers and crabbers still bring their catches to her dock to supply both the restaurant and seafood market.
Photo by Polly Dean
Thus, diners have to be a bit flexible – if weather or water conditions mean that certain items on the menu are unavailable at the moment, she won’t turn to buying frozen versions.
All the dining space here is open air, with views of the water and docks. In fact, while you dine, you might catch sight of fish being unloaded on those docks. The layout of the seating also provides connections to the past. The original ice box juts out into that area, while the back wall has windows facing the docks. In days gone by ladies sat at the windows grading oysters that were brought in straight from the boats.
The “historic” windows where oysters were once graded. Photo by Jimmy Jacobs.
When Dence bought the business in 2012, it consisted of the market, with a take-out window offering drinks and sandwiches. Guest then found a seat at picnic tables. Colorful picnic table or folding table and chairs still provide the seating. On the other hand, the new owner expanded the kitchen; added an open-wall, covered deck dining area; decorated the area with nautical paraphernalia; and expanded the menu. Locally sourced mullet, crab, shrimp, grouper, oysters, frog legs and even alligator now offered.
On Sunday afternoons the Fish House hosts a jam for local musicians. You are treated to an eclectic and entertaining variety of music during these events.
Most days you are likely to have Lisa Dence stop by your table and if you are interested, she loves to provide the history of the Olde Fish House. She also will explain her commitment to supporting both her employees and the local fishing community, while serving the freshest seafood possible.
To check out the Olde Fish House Marina’s fare, click here for the menu.