Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Palmetto Success, but Born of Tragedy

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

A Palmetto Success, but Born of Tragedy

Article excerpt

PALMETTO

The place is light and airy now, such a striking contrast to the darkness of its past. Business seems good, there is fresh fish daily, and if a customer is not satisfied then the whole meal is free, which means Palmetto Mayor Shirley Bryant always pays at Kevin's Crab Shack in Palmetto.

"I had my first fried sweet potatoes there," Bryant says. "You really should try those."

There are fried blue crabs for $55 a dozen and soul food dinners featuring smothered pork chops, but the biggest hit is on Fridays. That's when they cook up oxtail -- otherwise known as tail of cattle. It doesn't last long either.

Kevin's Crab Shack, located on 10th Street West across from the tomato packing plant, has been around for more than two years now, and first-time patrons on message boards claim it is the best-kept secret in town. But there are a lot of secrets associated with the restaurant -- and not all have to do with the spicy shrimp. Not all are good.

That the restaurant has been able to stay afloat for this long bodes well for the business climate and image of Palmetto, as Kevin's Crab Shack was once the site of a horrific shooting that remains unsolved.

"It's been a tremendous improvement over the other place," Bryant says.

On Sept. 10, 2011, two people were killed and 22 were wounded outside of a nightclub called Club Elite, which is now the restaurant. An AK-47 assault weapon was used in the shootings that happened as people were preparing to leave that night.

Gwenette Matthews and Trayon Goff were killed, and police believe Goff was targeted. Fear gripped Palmetto and people were afraid to even stand in line at the grocery store because what if the guy standing next to you was a target too?

The shootings were known nationally -- even the New York Daily News ran a story -- and the impact was felt in ways that were unexpected and truly sad.

For example, Rhoshaun Goff, the brother of Trayon Goff, was a standout football player for Manatee High that fall. Each week he had to have his uniform number changed and his name was kept out of the game program. When he recovered a fumble for a touchdown in a big playoff game, they never even announced his name. …

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