A Beacon in Lighthouse Point
PHOTO: Papa's Raw Bar owners Cassie and Troy Ganter
By Wayne Koss
Upon its 2014 entry, Papa’s Raw Bar of Lighthouse Point greets with an immediate impression of a simple longtime nurtured laid back place that has been standing for many years. A plethora of local people and business ornaments adorn almost every available space within these walls—including the ceiling providing a flavoring of the local community in this very casual atmosphere. A nautical theme throughout with humorous quotes of paint brush strokes, interesting signs and memorabilia, chalk board messages, old license plates, vintage posters keep our eyes casting about. Come as your are for no patron seems misplaced here. No matter what attire you wear or amount of fame you have acquired—you are simply part of the mix here.
No brief intro could properly describe this particular route one dwelling of such high attraction. Like some strange paradox beneath it all, ‘the ones that didn’t get away at sea are present for others to catch, enjoy and help find escape.’
The snow birds have left and the stone crabs too on these days, yet there is very little slowdown in this South Florida off-season locale. Some say good times may not last long—but they do here more and more with a fresh source of cultivation daily. Tonight again, added parking is needed to accommodate the loyal following nestled in this boutique mall, therefore the complimentary valet and parking host Ricardo Ferreira and company are in full swing.
Welcome to Papa’s Raw Bar where ambiance sets the tone for relaxation from life’s contraries.
“They don’t feel they have to dress up—its very casual, we’ve also done things to sound proof the rooms, very little phones are ringing here,” voices owner Troy Ganter, the latter 30-something gent owner among wife Cassie, his mother Joy and father Hugh. Yet this is known as Troys place with his wife Cassie in hand at almost all times.
Acclaimed to have super fresh food that’s out of this world... the rustic establishment seems to be the ideal place to harbor such delectable food offerings alongside a hundred plus craft beers, fine wines, live music joined by people from all walks of life and ages to mingle with out a pretentious front.
We originally built the place “as a hangout because we were so busy at Seafood World when the place was vacated with multiple Thai restaurants,” Ganter expresses.
Seafood World in the local sphere universe is ‘World Famous’. Started by Troy’s father in 1976, legend has it, Hugh Ganter (along with his wife Joy) rarely sleeps and for decades worked, cultivated, and educated the area about the vast array of ocean netted creatures he brought in from his boat catches in Bimini. Serving the intrigued masses with quality healthy food before it was labeled as such. From docks to the dish, repeat customers with the constant evolving new patrons—the establishment resonates as Lighthouse Point landmark and benchmark for others to follow.
Looking to provide a waiting area and captivate a bit with things to do during this wait time became a wait in itself. “It was slow for the first few months than it just hit the floor running and its continued to grow setting records each season...” Ganter expressed.
Thus, for Troy who informed he was deterred from getting into the business by seeing all the hard work that his father had to put in when he was a kid is now deeply seeded into a thriving business just like Papa.
Originally Troy divulged, on this recent occasion that he chose a different path. Yet while helping out his father busing tables, or whatever needed to be done, the ambitious young Ganter found himself in a scenario much like George Bailey in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” with always looking to get out of town and later discovering within is quite wonderful.
These days Troy is immersed with a true passion in the the restaurant business with a solid success of his own that is deepened by his knowledgeable father’s direct influence. Papa Hughie—as his dad is also known, is quick to acknowledge high respect to his sons own acumen. “Troy is a visionary, what I did was a lot of hard work and more simple. He expands everything around it and makes a more enjoyable experience for everyone.”
And So The Story Goes
Troy Ganter describes this Papa’s port as a “Floribbean style gastro pub, consisting of fresh-caught seafood, locally grown tropical fruits, a fusion of island inspired fare, Caribbean, Asian, New Orleans, Mexican and Florida influences.”
This joined with 125-plus craft beers, 70-plus wines (serving a fine wine list) Sake and other liquids of human interest.
Music is another elevated entity here–perhaps a bit loud for some. Yet artistic offerings are of quality and fine taste too. The renderings of various compositions are without question more than a backdrop as patrons often gather to the tables nearest the artists often providing an applause of appreciation for their individual performance renderings.
“We added music to branch out our business and support the local musicians. Right now we have about 40 musicians that rotate in the schedule that perform 6 nights a week,” he expresses.
The Team Are All Aboard.
“Our staff is not considered managers, but team leaders that lead by example. My wife Cassie works a lot behind the scenes, sometimes at the front of the house, handling tables... no job is to little for us—our hands are everywhere. I coach people from my own experiences as do others with the team. You get on board or you don’t,” Ganter voiced.
The Course is Set
“In our Sushi Bar showcase we display our daily fresh fish so when customers walk in they see lots of fish everywhere they look. Someone cutting fish on the bar and kitchen, someone cutting items for plates... they get to see the freshness and quality before the taste,” Ganter said.
Fish among other numerous other ocean dwellers arrive fresh daily from the salt water boasting their intrinsic flavors that are hanging out at Papa’s Raw Bar—just for a short while. Soon after doors open hundreds of orders will ensue and the sensory pleasures of patrons will be in full bloom.
With such a vast array of different food entries on the menu with options, theirs always plenty of quality choices to keep one satisfied on each and every occasion.
The five Chefs on board led by Executive Chef Chad Wyrosdick are undoubtedly very serious about their work here and it shows. Tasteful in preparation, cooking and final plate displays portray passion that exudes. This is a business that customers don’t eat mistakes. Therefore, everyday, every plate serving requires a top performance with a discriminating clientele at the front line.
“Where always open to running certain specials incorporating our mentality and our chef’s creativity,” Ganter said.
On A Roll – Honor Rolls
A bit obscure is part of the lure for sure here where creativity is abundant. Most of the delectable concoctions are spearheaded by infusion of customers food preferences and some reflect their personality as they appear in print on the copious Papa’s Raw Bar menu. Indeed—these team players are listening to the calls and honoring their notable patrons.
Former Miami Dolphin great Zack Thomas visits regularly and remains on the menu under ‘Zach Attack #54’. Among numerous notables loyal patrons who are part of the ingredients that breathe excitement into Papa’s Raw Bar surfacing it well beyond the norm for palate pleasing.
Sushi choices here seem mathematically incalculable to newbies. Yet relax and enjoy the plethora of quality choices. You may wish to opt for the Sashimi and Sushi Platters for a culinary get acquainted adventure that’s a well chef planned pleasure feast.
Healthier substitute ingredients are also offered if desired so customers can make slight alterations from the menu entries to better suit their taste preference and diet.
High on The List
In the words of Bob Dylan ‘Everybody Must Get Stoned’ and at Papa’s Raw Bar it happens in a big way with humongous clawed Stone Crabs full of succulent pleasure.
A huge house favorite is Lenny’s Lobster Bomb. Masterfully created with: Lobster tempura, lettuce, cucumber, avocado, and topped with bomb sauces. Paired with a martini glass filled with lobster tempura bites. All signature rolls are inside out with sesame seeds and masago and served with soy sauce, ginger, and wasabi. The plate presentation simply looks too good to eat without some guilt. Yet I choose to side with the fact that it looks too good not to eat.
Oysters, Clams & Conch
“We do several different things with oysters,” Ganter expresses.
Notable they are fresh shucked providing a more resilient flavor and texture. Badger’s Char Grilled Oysters are a favorite rave (6 char grilled oysters topped with garlic seasoned butter and parmesan cheese) with none going without strong attention. The Beer Oyster Shooter boast a menu claim of “Works better than viagra.” I guess time will tell.
The clams get some beer treatment here too among other select and usual preparations. Conch flavors are also are heightened with great crafted recipes. “Everything sells well here,” Ganter reveals.
Blue Oyster Cult ?
Former NFL players from Pompano Beach, brothers Zach and Henri Crockett touch down here in all seasons and they too have gained further recognition having their name displayed as ‘Black & Blues’ by the Crockett Bros. For the serving of 6 grilled oysters topped with bacon and crumbled bleu cheese. This entity may usher in a whole new Blue Oyster Cult. The brothers local charity—the Crockett Foundation also hosted one of their charity events here recently.
Enter: Sushi & Sum Dis, Sum Dat / Martinis of Van Buskirk
(AKA Lighthouse Point Commissioner Kyle Van Buskirk)
Call it the pre-course, appetizers or a light meal in itself. A variety fare from chowder, spring rolls, clam strips, stone crab dragoons, steak & shrimp quesadilla, chili, wahoo bites, seared scallops, fish n’ chips, spare ribs, alligator bites, crab, tuna salmon, and lobster bites offer a wide sphere of early options that will tantalize the senses. Fresh Asian styled healthy ingredient salads, ceviche plate offerings are markedly wonderful selections too. The Hibachi grill adds steak and chicken to the menu along with the seafood choices of lobster, scallops, shrimp, tuna, mahi mahi, swordfish. “Everything that’s cooked here is in the kitchen so you don’t smell smoke on you like at Benihana,” Ganter said.
Bountiful rice dishes, with made to order accompaniments are handled with care satisfy the grain field.
The exterior covered patio is as casual as it gets providing nightly entertainment, great service an a funky outdoor feel on US 1 in Lighthouse Point.
The Bimini Room serves as part of the restaurants overflow and utilized for private parties and events
Taco’s Without Borders – Take It To The Limit
Its difficult to make anything but a tasty taco with the super fresh main ingredients choices of shrimp, pork belly, conch, alligator and lobster to share the corn tortilla with shredded cabbage, chipotle mayo, Georgia peach salsa, crusted or beer battered or blackened with Pico de Gallo. If you can’t make the choice to make a super taco with these options than there are some house favorites on the menu including some Hippie creations.
Papa’s Raw Bar also captured acclaim with their land dweller Menu. Besides the hibachi grill offerings of steak and chicken, land foods host several Bimini bun selections from hearty burger plates to alligator. A Lobster BLT and fish sandwiches are also available with chips or fries Weekend only offerings include select delicacies of octopus and toro tuna.
The only course where choices are not plentiful is the dessert menu. Here two items, Key Lime Pie and Patty’s Banana Cheesecake Chonga—both good and popular yet for most of us—where not here to eat dessert.
Fresh seafood food establishments are without question a much more volatile and demanding operation than the standard restaurant with the challenge to keep the creatures fresh within their short shelf life.
“We shop around for over a thousand items on a daily basis seeking the best product,the best price so its a lot of work and trust with our vendors. My Dad’s up at 4 in the morning almost everyday ordering seafood. We’re buying, sourcing whole fish—we like to see the bloodline and the eye color, we have our stone crab operation with a catalog where we feature the best of snow crabs, lobster, conch and other seafoods that we ship all over. My brother is down in Miami everyday picking up fish. We sell over 3,000 pounds of fresh fish a week between the two restaurants, this management is our biggest task and challenge all the time.” Ganter said.
Knocking on Heaven’s Door
“We are fortunate that people come from all over South Florida on top of our strong very local area residents that come two to three nights a week. Some every night of the week.
We take reservations for five or more yet a lot of people don’t mind waiting here in line where they meet someone they know and haven’t seen in a long time. Patrons like to go the patio and meet some new friends or somebody who knows somebody,” Ganter said.
However during the prime months both restaurants here can be challenging to get into within an hour in prime times that could leave you feeling like your knocking on Heaven’s Door.
Papa’s Raw bar is open weekdays from 4:00P.M. to close. Closing varies on the staff’s read of the room which provides them with their phrase ‘We close when the conch shell blows’. On weekends from noon when Papa’s provides lunch. They are rarely closed all day except on Christmas day in respect for the great Fisherman and beyond...
Your Ship Has Come In – Gather the Mates
The Bimini Room is a popular catering place serving group gatherings fresh menu offering buffets or dinner selection delicacies and more. The square shaped room can hold approximately 67 people and boast a big screen TV. The less adorned room serves almost nightly as a overflow room to the elongated bar room of Papa’s Raw Bar. The room is host to numerous events, private parties, birthdays, business luncheons and meetings, wedding receptions..
“We are not open for lunch so we host a lot of parties and events during the afternoons on weekdays. With our catering no job to is small, Here and off-premise we are catering for yachts, weddings, charity events that are top-notch with a variety of menus from seafood to barbecues, Ganter describes.
Eat, Drink and Be Local
Eat, Drink And Be Local are not just mere words here. its a phase in motion of everyday action that speaks volumes. During the inception of Papa’s Raw Bar, Troy Ganter introduced this devout working motto and credo into the establishment’s early mission.
“Its about creating a synergy with the community, helping other businesses in the community while benefiting local business and people—its a win win situation,” Ganter expresses.
Papa’s Raw Bar’s reaches out to local events. Especially charity driven such as the Pompano Fishing Rodeo, Pompano Seafood Festival, Florida Volley Bowl, Las Olas Food & Wine, Jimmy Johnson’s Fishing Tournament, SOBE Seafood Festival, Broward Children’s Center, among others with support dollars and direct help involvement.
“We get to work with many of our customers with community projects besides getting to know them better with these events,” Ganter adds.
Troy’s latestest adventure is a Podcast (internet broadcast) from the establishment where local company’s join in and promote their services and interesting happenings to followers in the community networks.
Papas Raw Bar has a strong presence on top internet sites with very favorable feedback from the serious minded respondents.
Getting Out There
With the high success of Papa’s Raw Bar and its unique experience it seems inevitable that this exciting local gathering place take-out the long drive for many of its customers and get a little closer to them.
”We plan on opening up about 3or more between Miami and Jupiter with some not so far away. We are being patient about it to have the right things in place,” Ganter informs.
The key ingredient of the Papa’s Raw Bar’s distinction and success seems to be the meshing several things well that create the whole experience. Its a place that native Floridians like Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffet would call home. For Troy, his family, and team members ‘its always good to feel that you don’t have to wish you were someplace else’ when your passion already breathes in a paradise found.
Healthy: Quality seafood is some of the healthiest food you can eat. Mainly the preparation can make it unhealthy. However, there are seafoods you should not eat if your pregnant. Papa’s Raw Bar & Seafood World have a helpful list on their websites.
Papa’s Raw Bar merchandise is available online and on location with various hats, t-shirts, tank tops, coozies, stickers with more in the makings.
Check out this great video of Papa's Raw Bar Scene
Papa’s Raw Bar
Particulars: Hundreds of items to choose from. Expedient friendly service, Eat in, Pick up or Delivered to your favorite off premise table, Wine pairings, Beer parties. Price range hovers in the mid price of fine seafood establishments. A great value, especially alongside enjoyment of good people, music and atmosphere.
Gift certificates available. Got Sake—Ya Mon’
Where: 4610 N. Federal Hwy. (Route 1) Lighthouse Point, FL
Land line: 754-307-5034
Take out website: menufromtherestaurant.com/papas/menu
Take It Away: If this isn’t enough of a good thing Papa’s Raw Bar has hooked up with the Delivery Dudes to enjoy the menu experience in the comforts of your own chosen environment—be it a family gatherings or a big party, Yacht excursion, a corporate Jet getaway... Delivery Dudes service: 954-671-0108
Monday: Bobby from Pure Mutt – Every 2nd, 3rd & 4th Monday.
Tuesday: Bill Cerny every 1st, 3rd & 5th Tues., Baron Sisters every 4th Tues., Folk artists Brian Bolen from Uproot Hootenanny every 2nd Tues.
Wednesday & Thursday: Walt Rooney from 6:00 – 9:00pm
Thursday: Mojo Ike – “Rockin Blues with MoJo” Every 1st Thurs., Emelee – every 2nd & 3rd, Bill Hartmann every 4th Thurs. Music 6:00 – 7:00pm
Friday: Marc Claus (Folk light rock) from 7:00 –10:00pm
Saturday: Sax on the Patio with Randy Corithian from 7:00 –10:00pm
*A detailed entertainment schedule resides on their website for artists fans.
Papa’s Raw Bar has no need to bait customers...
Yet some specials certainly reel more of us in with entertaining themes from the kitchen and Beverage Specialties that greet the days of the week.
Happy Hour: Everyday until 7:00 & 9:00pm until Close
$2 off all draft beer, $1 off beer cans & bottles, $3 off glass of wine, $2 off sake
A Notable Bucket List (5 Beers per Bucket)
“The Redneck Bucket” $10
Bud, Bud Light, Miller Light, Coors Light, or Yeungling
“The Mexican Bucket” $15
Corona, Corona Light, Dos Equis, Pacifico, Modelo Negra, or Modelo
“The Ya Mon Bucket” $15
Carib, Red Stripe, Banks, or Kalik
“The Cigar City Bucket” $20
Florida Cracker White Ale, Invasion Pale Ale, Hotter Than Helles Lager, or Maduro Brown Ale
Week Day Specials
Wine Down Monday: 1/2 off ALL bottles of their extensive wine list including Bubbles and Kapetan’s List.
1/2 off all Sake, $4 off Hibachi
Taco Tuesdays: $4 Fish or Shrimp Tacos, Loco Beer Buckets $12, Ladies’ Night Wednesday, 1/2 off wines by the glass for ladies all night
(Excludes happy hour prices)
Motha Shuckin’ Thursday: 1/2 off oysters grilled or raw, Local beer
Fancy Fridays: $25 off Kapetan’s List & Veuve Clicquot
Sexy Saturday: $25 off Kapetan’s List
Every 3rd Sunday is Goombay Sunday with live reggae music from Chucka Riddim! Come out for $3 Caribbean beers and Papa’s Famous Conch Stew. Plus 1/2 off all retail apparel and Papa’s hot sauce