The U.S. portion of the Gulf of Mexico coastline spans more than 1,680 miles, and the entirety of its shoreline triples that number. For Michael Bacon, that expanse is a culinary dream like no other.
“I’ve had this idea in my head of a coastal seafood concept,” says Michael, who is the owner of BrewBurgers, Brew-Za-Bagels and American Comfort. “If you were to trace your finger along a map of the Gulf of Mexico, you’d find that many different cuisines live along its shores. Why not offer them all in one place,” he further explains.
The concept was just there, in his head, until a confluence of forces combined to create the right opportunity. First, he knew it would be unique to the area. “There are a lot of seafood options around, but they all do the same kind of thing. This was a different approach,” he says.
Then, after Michael noticed that a great location had become available across the street from another new project he was developing, the wheels kept going round, until one morning he woke up, turned to his wife and said, ‘honey, what do you think about this…’”
Michael admits that when Shuck N’ Ale: A Seafood Joint first opened in January of 2022 the public got the (mistaken) impression that it offered primarily New Orleans fare. But that’s not the case.
Of course, Louisiana is represented by a selection of classic New Orleans dishes such as jambalaya, gumbo, and blackened catfish. However, it's the South Carolina coast that's the origin point for Shuck N’ Ale’s low county boils – although, with names like “The Circus Bridge” and “The South Jetty,” he’s turned them into local favorites.
The restauranteur has always envisioned Shuck N’ Ale as a “come-as-you-are, family restaurant,” he says. However, when you’ve launched as many places as he has, you learn that incremental changes are sometimes needed. So, when feedback from diners indicated that the price-point was “a little high” he revamped the menu to include “a few more approachable items
Today, casual diners can enjoy fish tacos with flavors inspired by the Yucatan, red beans and rice with a Cuban flair, and a southern fried-chicken sandwich, y’all. Florida is represented by swamp bites (hand battered and deep-fried gator tail), and conch chowder. Did you know that natives of Key West via the Bahamas proudly refer to themselves as conches?
Now, let’s talk about beer!
“When I took over the space there was no beverage system. I have a real thing for craft beer, so I installed a top-of-the-line operation which refrigerates all the way from cooler to tap,” says Michael.
The system handles 14 drafts. But that’s not all – wine selections and four cocktails are pumped through the system too. Hello, voodoo margarita and bayou zinger.
Shuck N’ Ale’s brightly colored outdoor patio features an expanded deck fitted with a comfort sail shade. “It’s a fun and inviting place to listen to music," says Michael.
“We have live entertainment outdoors every weekend,” he adds. Regular acts feature the steel drum band Trinidudes, with reggae, calypso, and Island tunes. There’s also Joe Lawhorne, who plays a variety of upbeat tunes from the 50’s up to today, Steve Haines with his genre-hopping acoustic covers, and Bradley Hoskins offers a modern approach to island and rock favorites.
Adding to the fun is that, by now, the restaurant will most likely be done fitting out another outdoor area dedicated as “a big cookout/party zone. It will have a mobile grill and kitchen area where people can walk up and buy grilled oysters and more right there.”
648 South Tamiami Trail, Venice. 941.499.7200