Owner of Conchy Joe’s proposes new establishment on site of long-abandoned Admiral’s Table
JENSEN BEACH – The owner of two of this area’s popular waterfront restaurants plans to carry on the legacy of his family by reviving the building of the long abandoned Admiral’s Table at 4,000 Jensen Beach Boulevard, a stone’s throw from the icon that started the culinary empire, Conchy Joe’s.
The Local Planning Agency voted 3-0 June 20 to recommend a zoning change on the 2.29-acre parcel located about 1,000 feet northwest of the Jensen Beach Causeway roundabout. Growth Management Department Principal Planner Catherine Riiska told LPA members that developing the site required a mandatory rezoning as the current CR-3A liberal multiple family zoning district was inconsistent with the underlying Commercial Limited future land use designation on the property.
“There is one Category A standard zoning district available to implement the Commercial Limited future land use policies of the Comp Plan, which is the Limited Commercial District,” she said. “The applicant is seeking to redevelop this site and requesting approval to rezone the property to the standard Limited Commercial District. The portion of the site located on the west side of N.E. Indian River Drive contains a structure formerly known as the Admiral’s Table restaurant that was originally developed in the 1970s and has been unused and abandoned for approximately 20 years at this point.”
The Stuart-based land planner for the project, Morris Crady, told the three Agency members present he didn’t have a presentation but was excited that the owner of Conchy Joe’s Seafood Restaurant and Bar just across the street at 3945 N.E. Indian River Drive had decided to purchase this parcel that had sat abandoned for two decades.
“We are redeveloping both sites in combination, and we are in for site plan approval,” he said. “We are very excited: Everybody that I’ve talked to in the area that we’ve noticed is excited about seeing something happen at Admiral’s Table.”
Rather than build his own competition, Fritz Ayres, the son of Conchy Joe’s founder Fred Ayres who died in 2016, plans to divide up his current clientele to create two separate dining environments overlooking the Indian River.
“On that side of the road, we’re going to open up a restaurant as more of a sports bar and microbrewery and have the more elegant dining on the waterfront,” Mr. Crady explained. “So we’re getting rid of the parking, we’re expanding the waterfront opportunity and moving all the parking on the west side in combination with the Admiral’s Table. It’s going to be a great project and hopefully you guys will support it.”
Agency Member William Flanagan wanted assurances the change wouldn’t affect the Jensen Beach landmark, open since the elder Ayres build it in 1983 on the site of the old Seymour’s Dine & Dance begun in the 1930s.
“Is it the intent to keep Conchy Joe’s where it is and just expand this into another facility?” he asked.
“Yes,” Mr. Crady replied. “It’ll be two separate restaurants.”
“It makes sense,” Mr. Flanagan continued, right before he made the motion to recommend approval to the Board of County Commissioners. “I remember the Admiral’s Table from way back when. It was a good place to eat, and I look forward to having something equally as good there.”
Agency Member Donald Foley III seconded the motion.
“I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since I’ve been there,” he said reminiscing about the Admiral’s Table.
The motion passed 3-0, with Chairman James Moir and Agency Member Cindy Hall absent.
If the County Commission chooses to accept the LPA’s recommendation, it won’t be the first time the Ayres family has resurrected a Martin County landmark and brought it back to new life. In addition to Conchy Joe’s perch atop the Seymour’s legacy – which some old-timers hinted was actually a prohibition-era speakeasy – the late restauranteur also resurrected the defunct Outrigger of Frances Langford fame, who originally built The Outrigger Restaurant & Resort in the 1960s in ode to her beloved Polynesia where she performed during World War II. The elder Ayres restored the historic eatery and rebaptized it the Dolphin Bar & Shrimp House in 2000, this time in ode to one of Martin County’s most famous residents. Both establishments, along with the planned third restaurant to carry the Jensen Beach gastronomic legacy of the Admiral’s Table, will remain firmly in the control of the second generation Ayres family.