Sea Monkey Tavern & Grill came out swinging when it launched Thursday in Old Naples. The new venue was off to a strong start with a bustling business.
“We had hundreds of people there last night. It was standing room only,” said Sea Monkey owner Massimo “Max” Puglielli. “People were just really looking forward to this opening.”
The local restaurant and bar build upon the come-as-you-are vibe and a Key West state of mind that permeated its predecessor, The Parrot Bar & Grill, which had more than a 10-year run at Dockside Boardwalk. The laid-back place operates with the after-hours mentality that it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere. Similar to The Parrot, the new venue complements the well-worn atmosphere of the rustic Shoppes at Dockside, a wooden boardwalk lined with shops and eateries near Tin City in Old Naples.
The Sea Monkey name is a nostalgic popular culture throwback, harkening back to the 1960s when hatching kits for sea monkeys—actually hybrid brine shrimp—were advertised for sale in the back of comic books as novelty aquarium pets. The local venue’s logo features a monkey with fins and a fishtail that is wearing sunglasses, flip-flops and a tropical shirt while sipping an umbrella drink beneath swaying palms.
Puglielli, who has owned and operated Mino Italian restaurant and pizzeria in the same commercial strip since 2016, veered from his Italian heritage in creating Sea Monkey’s menu. “I put together what I felt was an awesome menu, something that’s just fun,“ he said. “It’s a fun place.”
Sea Monkey’s menu promotes an island theme with starters such as conch fritters, coconut shrimp and ahi tuna nachos, and soups such as clam chowder and seafood gumbo. Entrees include shrimp tacos, steamed crab legs, quesadillas, a hatch green chile burger and deep-fried hogfish topped with mango and roasted corn salsa.
The 150-seat destination has a full bar separated from an indoor dining room with covered outdoor seating. Live music is planned from 7 to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
Sea Monkey, 1100 Sixth Ave. S., Unit 6, is open for lunch and dinner every day except Monday. Hours are 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Tuesday through Thursday; and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.