Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Life of Leisure at Caribbee Key

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Life of Leisure at Caribbee Key

Article excerpt

Byline: LAURA CAPITANO

For fortune, it's my favorite time of year. These first March weekends are when spring fever hits, and we, the proud residents of a seaside city, flock all the way east for the first sunburn and fruity rum drink of the season.

On these rare and cherished days, and the months of summer that follow, I find Neptune Beach to have the most thriving day-leisure scene east of the ditch.

One of the hottest spots on Sunday afternoons is Caribbee Key, where its weekly Stay-cation event gives the locals the feeling of a getaway, with no travel required.

John Brocato, owner of Caribbee Key since it opened in 2003, is no stranger to the signs of spring at the Beaches. "Once those bikes start lining up underneath the overhang, you know it's going to be a big day." Brocato said the tight economy has been quite a rallying point for the Sunday Stay-cations. "People are forgoing vacations and just coming to the beach."

The two-story restaurant and bar offers two Sunday afternoon experiences. Upstairs, on the open-air deck, frozen rum drinks swirl in their chillers and sandy-footed, red-nosed folks pile in for Red Stripe beer bargains ($2.25 any time).

Downstairs has a restaurant-feel, with more breathing room, less sweat and lots of seating. It also is where the band strikes up in front of Caribbee's wall-size ocean mural, complete with a case of Red Stripe sitting in the sand. On deck for this Sunday: long-time reggae locals Pili Pili.

Of course, Caribbee Key has plenty to offer the rest of the week. Weeknight warriors can catch acoustic music on the upper deck starting about 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays. Friday and Saturday nights feature live music downstairs, with local alt-rockers Something Distant slated to play tonight and Saturday.

If you can claim a spot, Caribbee's patio seating is a great place to enjoy the music and people-watch at one of the city's most action-packed corners. …

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