If you’re wondering how a David Allan Coe song lyric ties into a blog post about the Salty Crab, a beach bar in Ft. Myers Beach, Florida, you’ll have to read this entertaining story from Jim Greer to find out. As always, Jim keeps us entertained until the very end.
“This is what you do. You write how your tattoo artist turned you on to this great place in Ft. Myers Beach! That will get people interested.”
Done, Mr. Christoph. This is a blog that wrote itself.
I have no objective evidence to support the following thesis: Patronizing a talented tattoo artist and loving the beach bar life go hand in hand. But, c’mon. Take a look at yourself. Tell me I’m wrong…
The tribute tattoo – to a friend killed in the line of duty – needed rehabbing. The original artist was good, but not Christoph gifted. I was going to be in Sarasota. Ft. Myers was a hop and a skip away… “I’m gonna give you something (expletive) special,” Chris said in his usual ebullient manner. “I’m gonna do this Cholo.” So, in honor of a fallen American police officer of Welsh heritage…
It turned out great. Christoph is a genius. In the meantime, we chatted about why I was in Florida (a granddaughter’s birthday party) and what I was going to spend my time on, otherwise. When I told him of my plan – “Go visit Ft. Myers Beach, have a drink, write a blog,” he was all over it.
He sent me to the Salty Crab. “Great food, great people. The owner is wonderful.” When you trust a guy enough to turn your back on him while he’s got a tattoo pen in his hand, you don’t question him. The Salty Crab it was.
Crossing the bridge into FMB is like coming home again. I’ve spent hundreds of hours prowling the shops, sampling the food and libation. Two of my novels are set here. I’m especially comfortable… What the hell?
A Thursday night and the place is hopping. Ped traffic, even after the beach is (mostly) closed. FMB is generally a happening place. This night it was happening, and then some. Turns out there was an offshore power boat race that weekend and many of the craft were on display. Undaunted, I found parking right where Christoph said it would be and set out for the Salty Crab, hoping to find a table.
The place was packed. A very good bar band was playing, and the patrons had found their groove. As if by magic, there was one table, with one chair, open in the place. Before I could get settled my server Cullen arrived, menus in hand. Busy, he still took the time to be gracious. He recorded my drink order, suggested mahi tacos and departed.
The live music was performed by a man and woman who could really bring it. She had a clear, crisp voice holding solid pitch with every note. His superb guitar, substantial backup harmony and gift for gab made the performance well worth the price of admission, which was free.
And then… He began what has been described as “The Perfect Country Song” by its author, the late, great Steve Goodman. David Allen Coe made it popular, his deep voice the bar singer trying – quite successfully – to emulate.
“I was awl…that I could dew…to keep from cryin’.”
That’s when things really started to rock. Anyone familiar with this song can follow along, because that’s what happened. Everyone in the bar got into the act. The seating area was open on two sides to the Gulf – the singing had to be audible for blocks, even over the crowd noises outside. “I’ll hang around as long as you will let me,” we all sang.
By then Cullen had brought my rum drink (delicious – and only one. I had a seventy-minute drive ahead of me) and the mahi tacos. Now, mahi-mahi can be iffy-iffy, especially if the fish has been frozen. These were substantial portions, firm and flavorful, even in the middle of a generous portion of fillings. The presentation – folded and upright – made them easy to access without spilling. My server returned several times to make sure I was okay. When I was ready to go he wished me well, above the noise and clamor.
I made my way out to the beach, which was sparsely attended. Several familiar places remain, the bars and restaurants, shops and points of interest. The Gulf was quiet on this night, calm and reposed in an obvious juxtaposition to the raucous atmosphere at the Salty Crab. The walk in the sand – kept short in deference to the new ink I needed to keep dry and clean – renewed an old friendship.
Ft. Myers Beach was full of life. Cullen said they expected seventy thousand people for the boat races over the weekend. By the looks of it – lots of team jerseys among the crowds – most had already arrived.
It is the place I remember, having first come here fourteen years ago. FMB is unpretentious; sometimes peaceful, sometimes turbulent, never boring. The food isn’t tiny, served on big plates. It’s Gulf Coast portions, served with high-octane drinks, or cold beers. Whatever suits the moment. I’ve added the Salty Crab to my repertoire of beach hang outs when I’m here.
And, after all these years, there is always a part of me that wants to stay.
About the Author
James Greer is a freelance writer who lives in Lakewood, CO with his wife Pat, two Portuguese Water Dogs and a cat of uncertain lineage. He and his wife travel extensively, believing that if there is not a beach bar nearby, it is not a destination. It is merely a way point.
Find more articles from James Greer.
If you’d like to contribute to a blog post, please send me an email at info (at) beachbarbums (dot) com. You can write it yourself of just send me a synopsis and I’ll write it. Probably not as well as you would write it but hey, it’s guaranteed to get posted. Either way, I’d love to feature your story!