What do Alabama debutantes and local fishermen have in common? Not much. Unless you’re at Boathouse Oyster Bar. It’s a place where all walks of life who love oysters can come and indulge in some aphrodisiacs, cold beer, and good company.
“This is a family business,” Green explained. “I moved here from Tampa in March of 1987 to start working for my mother. She fired me, then hired me back, on three separate occasions.” She seems to live by the concept “the customer always comes first.” Her clientele ranges from homeless folks living under the bridge to affluent millionaires. Even celebrities have visited this place. But the real heart-and-soul of Boathouse belongs to the local fishermen.
Y’all may have been to Boathouse before, and if you have, take one hand to pat yourself on the back, then take your other hand and rub your belly remembering of all the oyster goodness you consumed courtesy of owner and proprietor Kelly Green. Her kitchen brings in Appalachicola oysters fresh from the Gulf and either shucks ’em to serve up raw or covers them in cheese, bacon, jalapenos, or whatever else is tasty. There’s also fried shrimp, steam crab, and chicken fingers on the menu for the kiddies.
Boathouse on the docks of Destin, Fla., has maintained the same business model since 1986. Her mama Wanda “Mamma Gumbo” Green, and her partner Paul “Action” Jackson purchased the marina where Boathouse sits almost 25 years ago. Their big anniversary was this past October.
In 1995, Hurricane Opal wreaked havoc on the Florida coast and decimated the restaurant. “It was the locals who strapped on their tool belts to put us back together. All the cash on the walls was floating in the water or strewn down the sidewalks. Folks were bringing us back bags of wet money!”
Boathouse hosts everything from birthdays to bachelor parties but the restaurant will never close for a private event. Two years ago, even the farewell party for Mama Green after she passed away from cancer was open to the public. “On a plane trip back from Seattle I met two girls who were at Mama’s party! Whenever Mama was offered to close for a party she always said ‘Absolutely Not.’ I still say the same thing in honor of her.”
Boathouse truly is a quintessential Southern business. Come sit at the bar to meet the most genuine, loving and considerate staff exemplifying grace and hospitality. Their place is open seven days a week, keeping it real without an ounce of pretension. “If you’re a guy, come in without a shirt and shoes. Ladies, no need to put on make up. In here, you can be yourself. Let your hair down, dance on the bar, sing on our stage while banging a tambourine.”
For more information check out The Boathouse’s web site or just stop by next time y’all are in Destin.