PUNTA GORDA — Reports of its demise are a bit premature.
In fact, March 1 will mark Village Fish Market’s 42nd anniversary serving New England-style seafood in Fishermen’s Village.
But after two decades owning the iconic waterfront restaurant, Nick and Sue Randall will lock its doors the evening of April 23, shifting all operations to the Fish Market’s sister establishment, Tamiami Tavern, south of Punta Gorda on the Tamiami Trail.
“The reason why we’re leaving the Village is irrelevant at this point,” Sue Randall said. “What’s important is that we’ve preserved all our staff’s jobs, and we’re blending our two families —the Village Fish Market family and the Tamiami Tavern family — down at the Tamiami Tavern. We’ll continue to serve you, and you can still visit all your favorite bartenders and servers, just at a different location.”
Meanwhile, the Fish Market is still open seven days a week, serving customers just like it has for the last four decades.
Bob Carpenter, Fishermen’s Village general manager from 1979 to 1991, remembered the tourist spot’s February 1980 opening.
“The Village Oyster Bar was the first to open. Village Fish Market was later,” Carpenter said. “That Unit 4 on the end by the water was leased by a Harbour Heights fisherman who called it Village Fish Market because that is all they sold: fresh fish and shellfish.”
He’d cook it for you if you wanted.
The following year, Nino and Gloria DiNunno of Brockton, Massachusetts, bought the fishmonger’s and an adjacent unit, and cooked fish all the time — for 22 years. With their son, Chris, and his wife, CC, they catered to fellow New Englanders who hungered for chowder, whole-belly fried clams and cod.
The Randalls moved to the United States from England, fell in love with Punta Gorda and bought the restaurant in 2001. They preserved the DiNunno recipe book, steadily expanding both it and the restaurant over the years.
Now they want guests to know that, through April 23, they’ll continue running two restaurants.
“I’m actually looking forward to April 23,” Sue said, laughing. “It’ll be so much easier to have only one restaurant again.”
Village Fish Market($$, O), 941-639-7959, is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.
Tamiami Tavern($$-$$$, O), 941-639-6500, 10361 Tamiami Trail, Punta Gorda, is open Tuesday to Saturday 4 to 9 p.m. It will serve breakfast again and open daily starting in May.
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