The iconic timber frame and glass building on Dock Street has housed the Sea Breeze Restaurant for more than 20 years and is now owned and operated by Jamie Griffin of Fanning Springs.
Griffin is not exactly a novice in the restaurant business. He bought Betts Big T in Chiefland about a year ago and he has been in the business for more than 25 years. Originally from Bronson, he started the “Bronson Restaurant” next to the old motel.
What made Griffin decide to go into the restaurant business in Cedar Key was that, “the opportunity presented itself. I always loved Cedar Key, ate in the restaurant.” The former owners, the Fanzlers, ate in his restaurants.
After buying the building, Griffin and his staff began cleaning the second floor from top to bottom - including the salt-clouded windows, replacing carpets, tables and chairs and updating systems. Even the elevator is going to be running again. The parts are on order.
The new manager, Felecia Futch, is tasked with keeping everything running smoothly, including the employees. As it often happens in Cedar Key, good help is hard to find. However, their plan is to hire carefully and have two to three servers on the floor on busy days. When they say they will be open, they will be, Futch emphasized.
They are offering a limited menu for a couple more weeks and are adjusting it as they get customer feedback. They have already heard from “old” Sea Breeze regulars who are requesting that certain items get onto the new menu.
There will be home-cooked daily specials, sandwiches and salads, as well as steaks and burgers. “We love seafood and fish but don’t want to eat it every day,” said Griffin, adding that he plans to “cater to locals and will appreciate all the visitors, too.”
Beginning this week, they will be tackling the first floor of the building, where Griffin plans to open a banquet and meeting center. He wants “to emerge as the leader on the dock and in Levy County.”
The “new” Sea Breeze offers a panoramic view of Cedar Key, including crabbers pulling pots right outside the windows and clam farmers loading up their boats with their harvest, visitors strolling Dock Street and kayakers heading out for a paddle. They are open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.