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Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill
When you eat at Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill, you are not
eating at just any seafood restaurant – you are partaking in
a culinary feast that goes back three decades for the Tarpon
Springs-based Russell Family.
Their family business – consisting of the restaurant, a
seafood market called Pelican Point and several fishing boats
– was initially started by the grandfather of General Manager
Jacquelyn Russell, Joe Reis, who moved his family to Florida
in the 1970s. Now, they have four boats and employ over 100
people in the market and restaurant as well as provide an
income to 50-60 fishermen.
Jacquelyn’s father, Jack Russell, is in charge of maintaining the
fishing boats and keeping track of his crew of the fishermen who
often spend as much as 30 days at a time out in the gulf catching
the fish that end up on Rusty Bellies menu. Jacquelyn’s mom,
Julie Ann, does the bookwork for the restaurant and Jacquelyn’s
husband, Keaton, manages the restaurant with her. They often
seem like two ships passing in the night with opposite work
schedules; but, it works best for their family because it allows
each parent to spend time with their two children, 8-year-old,
Coco and 5-year-old son, Major.
“It all starts with the boats and the market,” explained
Jacquelyn. “Our fishermen catch top quality fish, the market
processes their catch, and our kitchen staff prepares a wide
variety of seafood dinners, focusing on our most often-requested
dishes – wild caught grouper and rock shrimp – two increasingly
expensive items that are getting more difficult to catch.”
“I tell my children that they have plenty of other options to
consider in terms of their future careers, but for my parents, as
well as my husband and I, we just can’t imagine another way of life,”
says Jacquelyn. “We have named so many of our menu items after
our boats: our grouper boat is the Redman, the stone crab boat
is the Crabacadabra and our shrimp boat is the Julie Ann.
And, of course, the restaurant’s name, Rusty Bellies, is
the nickname given to the large male gag grouper, which
generally ranges from 20-60 pounds.”
For business travelers and vacationers several hotels located
on US Highway 19 offer convenience, comfort and affordability.
In the downtown area you can stay at a quaint inn, a cottage or
a bed and breakfast. A short drive will find you at the beach to
watch the sunset. Relaxation is the main ingredient when you
stay in Tarpon Springs.