Slowly over the past ten years, a three-acre property in Seagrove Beach has been evolving into, “…the cruise ship that never leaves port.”
The O’Learys started with Coastside 30A, a retail store selling beer and wine, plus a tasting area to commune over beverages. Then they added coffee at Beachy Bean where remote workers and caffeine-seekers can get their fix. And as of 2018, Old Florida Fish House joined the family. You can get coffee in the morning, lunch in the afternoon, and close out the day with some drinks and entertainment.
Old Florida Fish House has been a staple for good seafood since opening in 2005, and the O’Learys didn’t want to tinker with that.
“We wanted to create a space you could come back to more than once on your vacation, and get a different experience,” said owner Keith O’Leary.
“One night you bring the kids and sit outside to enjoy the sunset while they run around and play games. Another night is sushi and listening to dueling pianos. One lunch could be oysters. We’re trying to offer a variety of experiences for whatever you’re in the mood for,” said Keith.
The vignettes of dining areas provide just that variety. There is the natural beauty of Eastern Lake right off the outdoor dining area where you can climb the platform and snap a sunset photo. There is the stocked sushi bar filled with boisterous diners enjoying the band. There is the little corner table in the back where a couple can enjoy a quiet, romantic evening dining on fresh gulf seafood. There is the oyster bar where you can catch the game and throw back some beers while slurping freshly-shucked gulf coast bivalves. There’s cornhole; there are top-shelf spirits; there’s even a garden growing fresh herbs and peppers for the bar.
“We try to make sure there’s a variety of dishes on the menu and then, of course, entertainment. We’re the only restaurant on 30A that has dueling pianos on a regular basis. At Old Florida Fish House you can watch the show on stage, get up and sing, and dance. It’s great for bachelorette parties. It’s great for locals going out to have fun with their friends. It’s great for families to unwind after a day at the beach.”
Nana’s Garden is an evolving greenspace on the property with abundant basil, lemongrass, rosemary, and chili peppers for use in cocktails and sushi rolls. O’Leary elaborated, “We’re trying to take this sweet property unique to 30A, and share it with the world. The garden is another part of this beautiful space.”
And you never have to wonder what the catch of the day is because the chalkboard menu that greets visitors upon entry showcases the fresh gulf seafood available daily. From the dock, you can order it blackened, grilled, or sauteed with lemon beurre blanc and seasonal vegetables. Or you can opt for one of their signature specialties like the Grouper Fish House with a bounty of crab, and shrimp atop that fresh-from-the-water grouper filet served with green beans and smashed red potatoes.
Whatever you’re in the mood for, it’s come as you are at Old Florida Fish House.
“People get to sit and enjoy the natural beauty of Eastern Lake. We’re very approachable with a friendly staff. Somebody said we’re like flip-flop fine dining,” said O’Leary.
You don’t have to dress up, you can bring the kids, but at the same time, you can order great seafood or sushi and dad can treat himself to a top-shelf bourbon or tequila. The spectrum of dining options is wide. There’s lobster and filet with a high-end bourbon from Kentucky, and there’s a fried fish basket with iced tea as well. The O’Learys’ goal was to provide a place where people can gather for a good time over good food.
“It’s gratifying seeing people coming back two or three times a week during their vacation. They had such a good time on Monday so they’re back on Wednesday, and they’re bringing their friends back on Friday. We’re not perfect, sometimes we stumble, but we try to fix it whenever we do. What we’re trying to do is bring an authentic Old Florida experience whether you’re from out of town or live here year-round.”