The new Barfly Saltwater Grill opened over the 2017 Fourth of July holiday in the former Crispers spot at 100 Main Street in downtown Safety Harbor.
When Barfly Saltwater Grill owner Jeff Harrell announced in March that he was moving his downtown Safety Harbor bar and restaurant into the old Crispers space three doors down at 100 Main Street, he promised the new place would have the same feel the old one, just on a larger scale.
Barfly Saltwater Grill owners Jeff and Celeste Harrell.
After the new Barfly’s debut over the Fourth of July holiday, it’s safe to say Harrell and his team pulled off the feat.
By utilizing familiar elements from the old place to reproduce the bar’s laid-back, island vibe, including the original hand-painted bar, several taps and fixtures and fly-fishing ties embedded in the ceiling tiles, and incorporating new touches including custom artwork, a bigger stage and, of course, more space, and putting it all together in a highly visible location, the new Barfly Saltwater Grill is poised to become a focal point of the rapidly growing downtown district.
“The biggest concern I heard from everyone throughout this whole thing was if the new place was going to be the same Barfly,” Harrell said during a busy soft-opening on Monday, July 3.
“So we did things to make sure we had as much of the old Barfly as possible in the new place. We wanted the old Barfly, just blown up on a bigger level, and I feel pretty confident we did it.”
The original Barfly bar is one of the many touches that give the new place a familiar feel.
Based on comments we heard during the opening night—a private-invite, friends and family affair that also accommodated groups of more than 120 party-happy pub crawlers—Harrell, his wife, Celeste, and their staff succeeded in their mission.
“I was afraid it was going to be too Crispers-ish,” local resident Lorraine Duffy Suarez said, noting she wasn’t knocking the fast-casual eatery. “But I was down here last night and I peeked in the window, and I saw that it wasn’t that at all!”
“They really did a great job capturing the atmosphere and feel of the original Barfly,” she added.
“This is going to be another great spot and a great anchor for the downtown district.”
According to Harrell, an avid fly-fisherman and graphic artist who opened the bar in March 2012, one of the main drawbacks of the old Barfly was a lack of space necessary to accommodate what was often an overflow crowd, especially on weekends and during one of the city’s many special events.
Barfly Saltwater Grill recently moved a few doors down at 100 Main Street in downtown Safety Harbor.
“Locals have voiced to us they can’t get in at peak times,” Harrell told Safety Harbor Connect when he announced the move in March.
“I know it’s frustrating to the community and to the new people who come here. It’s frustrating to us, too, that we can’t accommodate everybody.”
When he got word Crispers was closing, he decided to make the move in order to gain extra space and do some new things, creatively and cuisine-wise.
But the relocation effort definitely wasn’t easy; Harrell said he and his crew worked around the clock for 90 days straight, culminating with an all-night moving session prior to opening night.
“We took possession of the building April 1, and we worked night and day, sometimes from 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 a.m., to get it done,” he said. “Then we moved everything from the old Barfly down here last night.”
When asked for clarification, Harrell said simply, “We did it all in one day.”
By incorporating familiar items of the old Barfly, such as the original bar and similar decor, with new touches, including more space, the new Barfly Saltwater Grill looks to be a hit with patrons.
By transitioning from a pair of conjoined spaces totaling 1,700 square feet sandwiched between a coffee shop and a pizzeria, the new 5,400-square-foot Barfly Saltwater Grill boasts spacious bar and dining areas, outdoor seating facing South Bayshore Boulevard and a separate patio that Harrell plans to use to showcase live music during special events, there is now more than enough room for everyone to eat, drink and listen in comfort.
A group of pub crawlers, including City Commissioner Scott Long (front, hot dog costume) at the new Barfly’s opening night.
“I’m definitely loving this,” local musician and longtime Barfly performer Chase Harvey said as he watched fellow local musician Sean Delong baptize the new stage.
“No more being crowded behind the door, with people bumping into everyone all the time,” he added, noting the notoriously tight quarters of the old stage. “This is pretty sweet. They really did a great job.”
“It’s beautiful,” Largo resident Meredith Justice said. “It looks like Margaritaville in here.”
“The old place was way too crowded, but this is great.”
Her husband, Don, concurred.
“I loved the old Barfly and so far this one is great, and I think it’s going to be great,” he said.
“It sure beats the heck out of Crispers!”
Enjoy this gallery of sights from the new Barfly Saltwater Grill’s opening night: