Lazy Turtle in Palm Bay offers cocktails, music

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While Brevard County has miles and miles of waterfront, sometimes it feels like we’re not taking advantage of it. This was the case with a nondescript restaurant perched on a bluff overlooking the Indian River in Palm Bay.

Not anymore. Sal Tawilco and his team of Lazy Turtle Riverfront Tiki Sky Bar & Grill have turned space into a tropical escape.

“We want you to feel like in the Islands but in Palm Bay,” Tawilco said.

It does, with a steel-drum version of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” playing in the background, a frozen drink served in a pineapple, and dolphins playing off.

In its previous life, the building had windows facing the river, but did not take advantage of the outdoor spaces that surrounded it. Tawilco, which also owns Harbor City Diner in West Melbourne, added a spacious patio on the north side of the building and a tiki bar on the south side. A staircase descends the steep embankment leading to a colorful and weathered quay.

Guests who prefer to eat in air-conditioned comfort can do so in the more formal Captain’s Room, where reservations are accepted, or in the Lounge, which offers seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

At this time of year, unless a thunderstorm arrives in the afternoon, outdoor areas are hard to resist.

“It’s a place to feel good,” Tawilco said. “We always have a nice breeze.”

Tawilco bought the property a month before COVID-19 shut down the country. It took over a year to complete renovations, hire staff, and finally open in June.

“In general, I think we’re doing more than I expected,” Tawilco said.

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The restaurant is large, accommodating up to 220 people.

“On Friday and Saturday nights we refuel three times,” Tawilco said, as did the weekend brunch. “To me, I feel like we’ve been here for years. It’s a place for everyone, really.”

The building has been there for years. It was built in 1944 as a gas station and garage, and once housed an Italian restaurant, then a Thai place. The terrace and the decor are new, but they feel like a very popular and often visited place.

The same menu is served indoors and out, and is designed to accommodate an upscale date night in the Captain’s Room, complete with tablecloths, filet, and a $ 200 bottle of wine, or a casual evening at the tiki bar, with a margarita and cheeseburger, optional flip flops.

Tawilco wanted to create a place he would like to visit.

“I want you to take your time, to really enjoy going out,” he said. “It’s my kind of place.”

There is music outside Thursday through Saturday. Tuesday is karaoke night.

If the day gets stressful, and restaurant days often do, he’s just going out and looking at the water, the manatees, the storks, the bioluminescence.

Tawilco has been in the restaurant business for over 30 years, working as an executive chef in New York City.

“I owned a few restaurants in Brooklyn,” he said.

He moved to Brevard in 2004 and opened Harbor City.

“I moved here for fishing,” he says. “You can only fish a few times a year in New York.”

He decided to buy the Lazy Turtle property after realizing that the people of Palm Bay had to either drive south to Grant or Sebastian or north to Melbourne to enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. at the water’s edge.

The name plays into the laid-back vibe he wants to create.

“What could be better than a turtle walking slowly and gently?” he said. “Have you ever seen a turtle walk? There is no rush.”

Lazy Turtle Riverfront Tiki Sky Bar & Grill is at 4445 Dixie Hwy NE, Palm Bay. Hours of operation are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. The menu includes quality steaks, fresh seafood, oysters, sushi, and burgers, as well as craft cocktails and frozen drinks. Call 321-455-5299 or visit facebook.com/lazyturtleriverfront. Where lazyturtleriverfront.com.

Free valet parking is available.

The restaurant will celebrate its official opening from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on September 8 with specialty food and drinks and music from Vince Love and the Soul Cats.

E-mail [email protected].

Facebook: @SuzyFlemingLeonard

Instagram: @SuzyLeonard

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