RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — Riviera Beach officials on Oct. 20 approved a developer’s plan to build a restaurant on the site of the once-beloved Crab Pot. But the family who owned the Crab Pot is not happy.
It epitomized old Florida. The Crab Pot restaurant opened in Riviera Beach in the 1960s by world-class cliff diver and showman Wayne Cordero.
"It was accessible, it was affordable, it was family friendly," said Ryan Cordero, the late founder’s son.
But hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 destroyed the Crab Pot. Developer Seven Kings Holdings recently bought the land and got the green light to build a new eatery.
A community group called "Bring Back The Crab Pot" billed it as the return of the iconic restaurant.
"They used our great name. We put blood, sweat, and tears into the restaurant for many, many, years, just so they could get their way," Cordero said.
Cordero is angry at the group for using the Crab Pot name on the Facebook page and handing out t-shirts with the original Crab Pot logo to lobby support for a new restaurant.
"I don’t think it was deceptive at all because we were happy to name it the Crab Pot, because that’s what the community wanted," said Tamra FitzGerald, who helped developer Seven Kings Holdings build support for the project. "If they don’t want us to name it the Crab Pot, we won’t name it the Crab Pot."
The Cordero family now owns the Old Key Lime House in Lantana. Cordero registered the Crab Pot name with the state on Thursday, the same day Riviera Beach council approved the new restaurant.
"What they’re trying to do is not a Crab Pot. It will never be a Crab Pot, period," Cordero said at an Oct. 20 council meeting.
FitzGerald said developers would like to work with the Cordero family and pay tribute to the old restaurant by naming it the Crab Pot and having memorabilia on site. But the two sides aren’t talking.
Nearby residents at the Marina Grand Condominium pushed back on building. Other critics worry the restaurant will be upscale and unrecognizable to those who remember the old Crab Pot.
"Let’s bring people to our city," said lifelong Riviera Beach resident Artie Williams.
Williams said he and his neighbors don’t care what the restaurant is named. Developers originally called the project The Salty Mermaid.
"It’s not so much as the name that they want. It’s a restaurant in Riviera Beach that they can call their own," Williams said.