INDIAN ROCKS BEACH – Michael Alfaro thinks there is a bit of irony in the opening of his new restaurant, Groupers on the Gulf.
Until now, the former executive of a catering equipment company has never worked in a restaurant.
Not that he hasn’t tried.
“I was 14, 15 and applied for a job at Burger King,” he said. “My brother was the manager. But I didn’t get the job.
It was as close as he came to catering until he and his wife, Betty, opened Groupers on the Gulf, at 1401 Gulf Blvd., Indian Rocks Beach. But during his life Alfaro learned to cook.
Really good food.
And despite a lack of catering experience, the Alfaros have teamed up to create great food in a friendly atmosphere.
“We have a great atmosphere,” said Michael. “People come here dressed or in swimsuits. We try to be discreet. “
Betty, on the other hand, helps establish those good vibes by working up front. Although she also had no experience in catering, she quickly learned to serve tables while chatting with customers.
“I love meeting people,” she said. “It’s so much fun getting to know them.
Meanwhile, Michael is back using the cooking skills he has learned over the years.
“I’ve always loved to cook,” said Alfaro, who will be the chef. “Coming from the corporate world, I am process-oriented. Everything has to have a process, and you stick to the process. This is how you always have good food. You have to maintain a standard of quality and you do it through process.
Although the Gulf Groupers had a ‘soft opening’ on Labor Day last year, the Alfaro family – Michael, Betty and their sons Michael, Marcus and Matthew – celebrated the official opening of the restaurant. with an inauguration ceremony on July 10. Gulf is now open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily. It is closed on Wednesdays.
Guests can eat in the nautical-themed dining room or shop for take-out curbside.
The cuisine at Groupers on the Gulf includes appetizers like Fish Spread (Smoked Mahi) with crackers, wings and potato skins. Main courses include Cajun shrimp, snow crab and, of course, grouper sandwiches, Reubens grouper, salmon, shrimp and mussels.
Grouper, salmon, and shrimp salads are also available, as are soups like clam chowder, lobster bisque, or shrimp and corn chowder. Finish it off with a slice of homemade lime pie, Island Girl rum cake or Tres Leches.
Michael and Betty both credited locals for keeping the restaurant afloat during the pandemic.
“We have the best people around,” Betty said. “They really supported us and we are very grateful to them. “
But now that Groupers on the Gulf is officially open, the Alfaro family are hopeful that everyone in Pinellas County and beyond, not just the locals, will check out the menu.
“Come in,” said Michael Alfaro. “I’m going to do something really nice for you.”