The minute they shut the dining rooms, a whirlwind of creativity, enough to make your head spin, burst from local restaurant and brewery owners, as if their very business lives depended on it.

And it did.

We can only hope they keep some of this inventiveness going after life returns to normal.

They Deliver Dockside

It’s one thing to escape housebound-ness for a drive, pull up to the takeout window and treat yourself to a fast bag of grub.

It’s a way different trip if you’ve got the freedom of a boat, the salt on your skin, wind in your hair, sun on your face.

While you’re enjoying all that, here are some local waterfront restaurants that, called ahead, will jog right down the dock, bag in hand, to serve you afloat.

Alligator Creek Bar & Grill ($$), 941-639-2633, 5500 Deltona Drive, Riviera Marina, Punta Gorda, Tuesday to Saturday 2 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The Backyard at Skip’s Marina ($-$$), 941-343-7341, ICW Marker 21A, Englewood, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call first; they were planning float-out meals as this column was being written.

Cabbage Key Inn & Restaurant ($$), 239-283-2278. Your Cheeseburger in Paradise and other Cabbage Key specialties are accessible only by boat, between Cayo Costa and Pine Island.

Casey Key Fish House ($$), 941-966-1901, Marker 32, Osprey, noon to 6 p.m.

Cass Cay Restaurant & Bar ($$), 941-347-7148, Burnt Store Marina, Punta Gorda, noon to 8 p.m.. Cass Cay deserves extra points for thinking outside the docks with their adult take on Capri Sun sipper pouches. Their $7 “Capri Funs” hold 16-ounce umbrella drinks, prepared, sanitized, and served chilled. These Blue Hawaiians and Rum Runners are definitely not for the kids.

Farlow’s on the Water ($$), 941-474-5343, Ainger Creek, Englewood, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., to 8 p.m. on Sunday, now has carryout for kayakers.

Laishley Crab House ($$), 941-205-5566, Laishley Marina, Punta Gorda, doesn’t deliver but does offer takeout, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, to everyone including the marina.

Lighthouse Grill at Stump Pass ($$), 941-828-1368, ICW Marker 17A, Englewood, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., curbside or dockside delivery.

Miller’s Dockside ($$), 941-964-8000, Boca Grande Marina, noon to 6 p.m.

Nav-A-Gator Grill ($$), 941-625-4407, latitude 27° 03’ 42” N, longitude 82° 00’ 10” W, on the Peace River, Monday to Friday noon to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.

Nokomo’s Sunset Hut ($$), 941-488-1324, Dona Bay, Nokomis, noon to 8 p.m. Curbside or boatside, 25% off all orders.

SandBar Tiki and Grille ($$), Manasota Key off Lemon Bay, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday and Saturday to 11 p.m. Call 941-460-8280 or use the SandBar Tiki & Grille app on your smartphone with code Help25 at checkout. You’ll get 25% off and delivery to your docked boat.

Snook Haven ($-$$), 941-485-7221, Myakka River, Venice, noon to 7 p.m.

Snook’s Bayside Restaurant & Tiki Bar ($-$$), 941-475-6882, Royal Palm Marina, ICW Marker 30, Englewood, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Village Brewhouse ($$), 941-621-8329, Fishermen’s Village, Punta Gorda, with dockside contactless pickup noon to 6 p.m.

Boat Does Housecalls

Well, not exactly.

But Briana Caniff and Jaymz Michaud, Port Charlotte owners of Ice Cream Social Boat, are leaving their pontoon ice cream boat behind when they start making personal deliveries in a neighborhood near you, with free delivery for orders over $10.

Favorite prepackaged frozen goodies include SpongeBob SquarePants Popsicles, Magnum Double Caramel bars and chocolate chip cookie sandwiches. Among their two dozen kinds of treats they also have chocolate eclairs, strawberry shortcakes, nutty cones, and coconut and fruit ices.

Ice Cream Social Boat ($), 941-413-6911, posts its land and sea locations on Facebook @icecreamsocialboat.

They Deliver ... Doughnuts?

In other words, we are in so much trouble now. This means you, too, John Hackworth.

Why didn’t Abbe’s Donuts think of this before?

Facebook followers went wild.

“This is even better than Good Humor trucks!” posted one.

“My stress eating is about to go to the next level,” wrote another desperate fan. “Could you post a menu please? I don’t wanna resort to one of everything.”

Starting April 7, Abbe’s Donuts for the first time in its history announced “The Sweetest Treats on the Streets”— prepaid, no-contact, residential and commercial Donut Drops everywhere from North Port to Port Charlotte and Englewood.

Deliveries are available between 7 and 11 a.m., with a minimum order of $10 and delivery fees starting at $3 based on location. Minimum delivery time is 30 minutes from the Port Charlotte Abbe’s location.

To schedule a delivery, call 941-979-5086 or 941-421-2471.

Who Knew?

Rules change on the fly in our crazy new coronavirus world. Bet you didn’t know, for instance:

• After being granted the exhilarating new privilege of selling booze to cruise, restaurants only narrowly escaped a ban on mixed-drinks-to-go. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation initially quarantined the likes of Bahama Mamas and Bloody Marys. DBPR soon came to its senses and reversed the ban, making creative packages like Cass Cay’s Capri Funs possible.

• Restaurants with alcohol licenses may even send sealed alcoholic beverages out for delivery by third-party services. Can you say Sip Squad and BlubHub?

• Millennial Brewing Company of Fort Myers has expanded its $30-minimum delivery service of growlers, six-packs, merch and beer soap to Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda. Customers must place orders at 239-271-2255 by 3 p.m. for same-day delivery between 4 and 6 p.m. For $5 you can add a Pay It Forward Pint for a local health care professional to redeem when the taproom reopens to the public.

• If you’re jonesing for sit-down dining, you can still have it in an airport terminal, exempted from on-site dining bans as long as vendors adhere to “enhanced precautionary measures.” They needn’t worry. Most airport eateries are empty anyway.

Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at suewade47@aol.com.

Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.

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