Pelican Alley in Nokomis has finally risen from the muck left by Hurricane Irma.
After 17 months of delays and a battle for well-deserved historical significance, the site that dates back to 1904 soft-opened last Monday, with three seatings serving more than 150 guests.
“Single file! Single file!” 22-year co-owner Renee Adorna told the eager crowd waiting for the doors to open for the first seating. “But please, unless you’ve got rave reviews, do not write anything on social media! Please be patient with us. We’ve had to be patient for 17 months now!”
Much of the staff —including bartender Jordon Moran (Renee’s son), server Jami Scala (co-owner Tommy Adorna’s sister) and head chef Darvin Carter — are Alley oldtimers who’ve worked there from five to 20 years. Carter started at age 14.
But Monday was their first time cooking in a brand-new kitchen, using a new computer system and waiting on a new crowd.
“We’ve not been able to train in a normal environment because of all the construction,” explained Renee. “So if you come this week please fill out our comment cards with things we can improve on and correct.”
A week later, Renee explained, “I just want to thank all the people giving us a little slack. We have had a rough go, but are breaking records in numbers that we’ve never done in 38 years of being Pelican Alley. All I know is we are all working 16 hours a day with limited staff busting their tails to make sure we stay alive. It’s unfortunate that we had to throw all these new people into this at height of season. But we had to open when we could open.”
Regulars will recognize the layout of Pelican Alley, whose dining room and bar still overlook the Intracoastal Waterway, but it has all new flooring, bright new walls, freshened décor and a dramatic bar top by local craftsman Dustin Nichols, who captured the length of the Intracoastal in laminate. An entire wall honors the past with historic photos and memorabilia.
The menu still serves favorites like The Alley’s Seafood Chowder, along with more tips of the hat to the past: Chadwick’s Chips and Fish, named for the Chadwick brothers whose 1904 fish house is the core of today’s Pelican Alley; The Wardroom Platter and The Admiral’s Seafood Sauté, for the Alley’s past life as the 1970s Admiral’s Wardroom; and The Foreman House Steak, in honor of friends Aaron and Karen Foreman, who fought for the Alley’s eligibility in the National Register of Historic Places.
And tucked behind the hostess stand is Renee’s dream “she-shed”—Sunken Treasures Gift Shop, filled with jewelry, candles, clothing and beachy décor.
Renee and Tommy will continue regular performances with Gas House Gorillas and return for weekly Friday Take2 performances from 7 to 10 p.m. at Pelican Alley. For up-to-date information and Friday theme nights, like and follow them on Facebook @pelicanalleyflorida.
Pelican Alley ($-$$), 941-786-3616, 1009 Albee Road West, Nokomis, is normally open daily 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., but please call or check their Facebook page to double-check hours during these early days. They continue to need servers, prep people, cooks and dishwashers.
Send restaurant and bar news and recommendations to columnist Sue Wade at email@example.com.
Average price ranges are $ = inexpensive (under $10), $$ = moderate ($11-$30), and $$$ = pricey (over $30), including tip and beverage.