ANNA MARIA, FLA. – The Rod & Reel Restaurant has been a popular destination for tourist and locals on Anna Maria Island since 1947.
“This is the heart of Anna Maria,” said Glen Milne from Ontario, Canada. “When I walked in there this morning, I almost bawled.”
Milne, who spends three months a year on the island, said he nearly shed tears of happiness because the Rod & Reel Restaurant is finally re-opened. The popular eatery and fishing pier closed on the morning to of September 30th after a small kitchen fire. The fire did minimal damage to the building but in order to reopen the owners had to rebuild the building to current codes.
“They essentially built everything from the deck up, everything is brand new,” explained kitchen manager, Ted Pasquantonio.
He says the faithful customers constantly stopped by to watch the progress.
“Over the last few months it looked like the walking dead at the end of the pier. I mean everybody just standing there staring through the gate, crowds and crowds of people every day.”
The Rod & Reel finally reopened last Friday morning and has had a steady flow of customers.
“Just Friday and Saturday I’ve already gone through 24 gallons between chowder and gumbo already,” said Pasquantonio.
All of the original Rod & Reel staff came back to work as well.
“I was definitely going to come back. Even if they didn’t want me I was going to come back,” laughed bartender Adina Basquez. She worked at another restaurant until the Rod & Reel was ready to open. Basquez said she missed her regular customers and working on the water.
“[I] get to look at the Skyway all day long while I am pouring beer. You can’t do that any were else.”
Glen Milne is glad the original staff came back.
“They are friendly, they’re honest, and they belong there,” said Milne.
The restaurant is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m.