Friday, May 27, 2011

Singleton's Seafood Shack

On my visits back to see family in Jacksonville, Florida, I never miss an opportunity for lunch at Singleton’s Seafood Shack.  Located near the mouth of the St. John’s River in the village of Mayport, Florida, this restaurant’s name aptly describes its character. As you inter the dingy, creaky “shack” there is a small counter of fresh seafood for purchase and I usually check to see if they have their fresh oysters on display.  Then I proceed across the sagging plywood floor directly to the bar to enjoy one of their ice cold beers while I wait for my lunch order.  My meal at Singletons will always consist of at least one, maybe two, dozen raw oysters on the half shell, with maybe an order of gator tail or calamari for good measure.

During my most recent visit, I wanted to capture a few images of this unique restaurant that was opened in 1969 by Capt. Ray Singleton and his wife.   Decades before he began building scale model shrimp boats and came to display them in a cement block annex of the restaurant.  Although Ray Singleton died in 1996, the restaurant is still owned and run by other members of the family, and the models remain on display. 

Display on front of restuarant

Anchor on restuarant facade

Shrimp boat detail

Local resident 

Commercial fishing boats moored behind the "Shack"
While taking pictures of the restaurant and its surroundings, a gentleman approached me and wanted to engage in conversation.  He looked like he was a local, probably in his late 50’s, and I quickly realized he was deaf and he communicated with a combination of sign, gestures, and oral sounds.  He was telling me about the shrimp boat models and also referred to another model of a light house, which either he had done or that he had at his home.  He pulled out his driver’s license to show that he was a Singleton, I believe maybe a son of Ray’s.  After a few minutes he said good bye and went on his way.  He was clearly proud of his family’s restaurant and I only wish I would have thought to ask permission to take a few pictures of him to go with the other images I captured at Singleton’s.
Mural on side of restuarant housing shrimp boat models
Mural on restuarant annex

Capt. Ray Singleton's shrimp boats models 

Back addition  to the restuarant and moored commercial vessels

Singleton’s Seafood Shack is a unique spot and one I will always place on my schedule when in the Jacksonville area.

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