Fort Lauderdale's Shooters Waterfront is back in business after having its walls, floors, bars and kitchen torn down for a complete makeover seeking to revitalize the landmark restaurant.
Shooters Waterfront — formerly Shooters Waterfront Café — and what used to be a bar next door popular among Spring Breakers, Bootlegger, have retired their previous personas and taken on new, classier styles.
The waterfront restaurant reopened for dinner Monday, welcoming guests for the first time following months-long renovations under new ownership. Bootlegger, now a private events venue called Events by Grateful Palate, reopened in December. Operators say they're booking four to five events per week at the facility, ranging from corporate events to birthday parties.
Many of Monday's visitors had been to Shooters at least once before. The restaurant has been around for more than 30 years. Silvya St-Cyr and her husband, Phil, first visited in the 1980s.
"This is much better than before," said Silvya St-Cyr, 63. "It's beautiful, elegant."
The upgraded Shooters is spacious, touting a "beachy-chic," resort-like appearance with driftwood floors and earth-tone furnishings and décor. It has an elevated bar area near the main entrance and a lower bar closer to the Intracoastal Waterway. Flat-screen TVs surround the room. There's also a tiki bar outdoors and seating near the water's edge.
Fort Lauderdale resident Katrina Makarounas said the restaurant surpassed her expectations.
"The décor is refreshing. It's light, simple, but still interesting," said Makarounas, 25.
Shooters' new, uncluttered layout also offers every guest a view of the water, said Meghan Leckey, owner of Shooters Waterfront and Events by Grateful Palate. Leckey took over the properties last year after the previous owners filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Leckey and her team went back and forth on the name, she said, trying to decide whether to keep the Shooters' name or to dub it something completely different.
The name stuck, for nostalgia's sake, Leckey said.
"Everyone has a Shooters story," she said. "We want to breathe life back into the name and give it a second chance."
Aside from the name, everything else is new, including the menu.
New selections include appetizers such as Thai mussels and crab cakes, lemongrass salmon entrees and spicy roast pork flatbreads. There's vegetarian and gluten-free dishes, too. Beer, wine and specialty cocktails are also on the menu. Shooters is open for dinner this week and will begin serving lunch Feb. 17. Brunch starts Feb. 23.
The revamped waterfront restaurant employs nearly 200 people and can accommodate more than 400 guests. It welcomes customers who get there by land or by sea — it has 340-feet of dockage and is a stop along the Water Taxi route.
LaRue Credle, who lives near Shooters, said she had been looking forward to the restaurant's reopening, checking its progress every time she walked by.
"It's just beautiful," said Credle, 69. "I'll be back."
Shooters Waterfront is at 3033 NE 32 Ave., Fort Lauderdale.
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