A quality product at a reasonable price that’s coming fresh off the dock.
That’s what patrons will experience when they come to relax and enjoy the food at Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Café at MM 99.5.
Jack Hill and his family started Jack Hill Bait and Seafood in 1972, as a place for Jack to sell his bait and seafood catches. In 1976, it became Key Largo Fisheries and has evolved into a retail market and restaurant.
The restaurant, Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Café, opened in 2011 as the Hill family expanded to include fresh, high-quality seafood products for the public’s enjoyment.
Start with conch fritters or Dottie’s Infamous Lobster Bites for appetizers. The establishment also offers an array of salads and seaside soups to enjoy.
Then move on to Dottie’s Conch Salad, Seaside Caesar Lobster Wrap, smoked fish dip or lobster sliders. For dessert, patrons can enjoy a variety of cakes to satisfy their sweet tooth.
Tom Hill, co-owner of Key Largo Fisheries with his brother Rick, said his mother, Dottie, would cook lobster bites and conch fritters under a pop-up tent on Saturdays as customers arrived to get fresh seafood. While the store would be busy selling fish, she’d be selling some of her own homemade goods.
“She just had a good time doing that,” he said. “She had a lot of fun and she saw a lot of people.”
Hill said the kitchen got started making salads for a company that sold to Costco. Hill said he started adding kitchen equipment.
“When that contract with the customer ran out, and we had equipment there, we just started cooking and doing the Saturday routine. Then we started making lunch for ourselves and then other people came along and said, ‘That’s really good.’”
For Hill, one of the things he enjoys most is seeing the smiles on the people who enjoy what they’re eating.
“These cooks do a really good job with the food,” Hill said. “We get a lot of compliments. It’s a unique destination that’s more than a storefront.”
Key Largo Fisheries services restaurants and bait stores from Key West to Fort Lauderdale, and products coming off the docks are shipped nationally and internationally to places in Europe and Asia.
The whole process evolved naturally, Hill said.
“We were already cooking lobsters for overseas so it made sense to offer that at a good price to our other guests,” he said.
Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Café has received a number of TripAdvisor awards for its food and service. Carrie Pino, marketing director and restaurant manager, said it’s a testament to a number of things.
“We try to work really hard on our customer service as well making sure our food is pretty much the same every time you order it,” she said.
Key Largo Fisheries Backyard Café, located at 1313 Ocean Bay Dr., is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.keylargofisheries.com.
Dottie and Jack Hill started Jack Hill Bait and Seafood in 1972, and it evolved in 1976 to the Key Largo Fisheries that we all know and love today.