If you have a desire to eat some fresh seafood, Matlacha might be your destination. A couple is opening a restaurant that usually closes in the summer. Their goal: to provide fresh, reasonably-priced food for local residents on Pine Island and for visitors.
"We felt there was a need in the summer to feed the people here, at a fairly low price. There are only so many choices for meals on Pine Island. Some places close for the summer. We knew we wanted to keep prices down, so locals can afford to eat our meals. So we approached the owner of the Fish House Marina," said Mel Meo.
That man, John Skorupski, knew Meo and her friend Fred Lodsin. They all shook hands and agreed to the deal: The couple would buy their seafood from the boats that dock at the marina, they would pay to use the kitchen, and they would take the proceeds of their food sales. Skorupski considers the handshake agreement as good as a contract. "A person is only as good as their word. If the person's no good, their word will be no good. Doesn't take long to figure it out," Skorupski told WINK.
"I just love this. It is so good to see the look on peoples' faces when they bite into a mullet sandwich or some grouper. It makes me happy that they are happy," said Fred Lodsin. "I know we are keeping the prices reasonable. I think that is important because some places are costly, I don't know how people can afford to eat out anymore."
Customer Tammy Snyder agrees. "I believe the locals in summer need this. People do not have a lot of income quite often in summer. So this fresh food at good prices is great," she told WINK News.
So far, business at Mel and Fred's is booming. They are serving a lot of meals for take-out, and they also have an area where people can eat in the shade, next to the boat harbor.
"We stress home-made foods, very fresh, and we use some old family recipes. My mullet fritters are famous!", says Meo.
The couple hopes to continue in the restaurant for as long as the owner of the place will have them. They're located on the main street through Matlacha, just west of the bridge.