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Skipper's Smokehouse: A Brief History

Greetings from Skipper’s Smokehouse Restaurant & Oyster Bar, “the club that washed ashore,” to quote guitar legend Lonnie Mack. This long-running live music venue, restaurant, oyster bar, caterer and talent agency is located in subtropical Tampa, Florida.
Now celebrating 32 smokin’ years, this venerable Tampa Bay landmark was purchased by three Air Force buddies in 1980 who met while stationed in Alaska and presumably sought to get as far away from the frozen tundra as possible. In the years since, Skipper’s has grown from a small smokehouse takeout operation with a casual Sunday jam to a full-service restaurant and much-loved purveyor of world-class music. The architecture is a smorgasbord of “cracker” and islandy-Key West styles with overturned boats, wooden walkways, large murals dot the landscape while artfully rusted walls contain the sounds of revelry. In the Oyster Bar, a vintage moonshine still hangs over the bar while in the dining room, weathered posters tinted by neon lights add varying hues of color and atmosphere. Here's owner Tom White, telling a bit more about Skipper's:
The menu focuses on Florida cuisine with tastes of the Caribbean and Louisiana; the mix is dubbed “Florribean.” In addition to award-winning Black Bean Gator Chili, Skipper’s serves alligator ribs and fried gator tail. Other Florida favorites include farm-raised catfish, grouper, oysters, clams, conch and shrimp, prepared grilled, fried (in rice bran oil) steamed, smoked, or sautéed as the customer desires. Fresh catches vary and can include amberjack, shark, basa, salmon, swordfish, tuna, or wahoo. Mudbugs (crawfish) are on the menu almost year round. Over the years, Skipper’s has been honored as Best Outdoor Restaurant, Best Grouper Sandwich, Best Alligator, Hottest Wings in Tampa, and Best Key Lime Pie.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, Skipper’s presents a near-nightly parade of top-tier live music. Click here for a panaoramic view of the "Skipperdome," unoccupied during the daylight hours. The music has grown and diversified from a locals-onlty jam to a world class operation featuring legends and soon-to-be legends in blues, reggae, Zydeco, rock, bluegrass, jazz, folk and worldbeat. Performers come from around the corner, across the United States as well as from points as far-flung as the British Isles, Russia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Nigeria, Madagascar, Kenya, Zaire, South Africa and Australia. You'll find the calendar of our upcoming shows here.
Skipper’s has been recognized many times in reader and critic polls as one of the best concert venues in the Tampa Bay area. The live music venue sits under huge nundred-year-old oaks. Accordingly, locals have fondly dubbed the backyard concert area the Skipperdome. Seating is provided via a collection of benches, chairs and picnic tables while a large covered tiki deck offers shelter from the summer and winter extremes. Fans (the electric rotating kind) create pleasant breezes in the long summer months while radiant propane heaters take the chill off on the rare cold evenings.



Click here
to see a list of artists that have played at Skipper's Smokehouse over the years.
It's kinda awesome.
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