Gracie Rae Bar & Grill and the Salty Hawg oyster bar will be combined into Barefoot on the Bay. The restaurants will be closed July 10-12, reopening July 13.
PANAMA CITY — An iconic St. Andrews culinary fixture has a new owner.
Panama City Beach-based hotel and resort provider By the Sea Resorts announced Thursday it had purchased the Shrimp Boat Restaurant from Ameris Bank.
“We are extremely pleased to be joining the community of St. Andrews,” By the Sea President Jose Gallego stated in a news release. “We look forward to updating the Shrimp Boat and offering additional dining options for the community.”
The company owns six hotels in Panama City Beach and operates Barefoot Restaurants Group; the Shrimp Boat and corresponding restaurants housed in the complex will be the company’s first Panama City businesses.
“We are a hospitality and food service company that has been in business for the last 25 years in the Panama City Beach community,” said Casey Suggs, Shrimp Boat catering sales manager. “The Shrimp Boat Restaurant has been a staple in Panama City’s rich history, and we are going to bring it back to life, so that it is once again able to deliver our community and clientele with the legendary food quality and service that they came to expect.”
The Shrimp Boat will have new lunch, dinner and tapas menus featuring Gulf Coast fare and steaks under Executive Chef Larry Eppler, Suggs said.
On the back half of the restaurant, Gracie Rae Bar & Grill and the Salty Hawg oyster bar will be combined into Barefoot on the Bay and will continue to provide staple menu items like oysters and wings.
Nightly live entertainment and dockside parking for boats for dine-in and carry-out still will be offered at the complex, and private banquet and catering options soon will be available through the St. Andrews Room on the second floor.
The restaurants all will be closed Monday through Wednesday, reopening Thursday, July 13, under their new names and menus. Suggs said By The Seas had introduced some new managers but would be retaining the entire staff.
“We’ve always been proud to be part of the Panama City Beach community and are extremely excited to be joining Historic St. Andrews,” Gallego said. “Providing a quality and enjoyable restaurant experience is what we strive for with the Barefoot Restaurant chain.”
The Shrimp Boat has been struggling financially for several years. In 2016, the restaurant went into receivership, with the courts declaring Great American Hotel Group (GAHG) its new management in late March.
“We are charged by the court to solely operate the business,” Linda Komornik, GAHG director of sales and marketing, said at the time.
GAHG took over managing the restaurant from William Loren Smith, who could not be reached for comment Thursday. Smith opened the Shrimp Boat on Nov. 1, 2008. His father, Lowe Smith, built the original Shrimp Boat at the Beck Avenue location in the early 1950s.