One of the best hooks for restaurants in Florida is an Everglades or gator theme. A recent story I wrote on the revival of the local R.J. Gator's Florida Sea Grill & Bar showed that formula works. The restaurant only closed its doors because of bad corporate structure that also tied the Bradenton restaurant as collateral to a Sarasota location that closed its doors. Linger Lodge in East Manatee has this concept down, still attracting people who want a taste of Old Florida, and even getting national recognition on Travel Channel for the food and concept.
So, digging through the restaurant photos I was sure to find some other gator-themed restaurants. I submit to you, Florida Crackers.
This Bradenton Herald archive photo shows owner Jim White on Aug. 16, 1990 with "Al" the alligator who appears to have consumed a giant hoagie that got stuck.
Much like R.J. Gator's, this restaurant plays up for an Old Florida theme, especially with the Florida Cracker name, a nod to the cows and cowboys of old. Plus each restaurant has their own gator mascot. R.J. Gator's gator, Big Jake, is more realistic, looking like a work of taxidermy even though it's a large plastic replica. Big Jake hangs inside the restaurant and isn't to be confused with the cartoon character that serves as its mascot.
Al? He looks like a mix between a papier mache project and a friend for E.T. And that snout looks like it could hook horns with a steer.
I couldn't find anything in our newsroom library or online about this restaurant, or Al. Contribute below if you remember something about Florida Crackers.