Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tiki Time at O'Leary's

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Tiki Time at O'Leary's

Article excerpt

BAR TAB

There are yachts and sailboats of various sizes and people paddling around in kayaks. I spot a pelican floating around, too, in Sarasota Bay, but my eyes focus on the large thatched roof structure surrounded by picnic tables, a strip of beach, docks, assorted pleasure crafts and all that water. Behind the wood building a canopy of palm and other trees provides natural shade throughout the grounds of O'Leary's Tiki Bar & Grill and the rest of Island Park.

I walk up to O'Leary's before noon on Friday at the end of season and there's already a lengthy lunch line. People are waiting to place their food orders at the main building entrance. The delay can't be too bad. They're enjoying a view of the bay while surrounded by foliage and caressed by a refreshing breeze.

My path goes back behind the building and I come around the other waterfront side in time to take one of the last seats at the tiki bar. I have no plans of returning to our office here on Main Street, so I order a beer. My 16 ounces of Bud Light served in a plastic cup hits the spot, ice cold and reasonably priced at $2.75. There are other beers on tap and by the bottle. Wine and liquor libations are served, too. But I'm happy to sip on my Bud Light and imagine what life is like for the men and women staying in the boats I see moored in the water all around me.

The regulars here at the bar are ordering mahi mahi and reuben sandwiches and another guy's usual is a salad with grilled shrimp. I'm in the mood for a burger and get one with pepper jack cheese that comes with curly fries ($8). Despite the large crowd, my burger arrives before I even get halfway through my first beer. A cold beer and a tasty burger at a tiki bar on the bay surrounded by friendly staff and friendly regulars somehow gets even better when the music starts at noon.

A man accompanies himself on guitar from the stage in the larger tiki dining area behind me. …

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