Devastation on Crab Island: Popular boater’s restaurant demolished by storm

Savannah Chastain
Employees of Crab Island Online scavenge for equipment Tuesday morning after the storm subsided.

When Mike Depass, of Crab Island Online, headed out to work Tuesday morning he did not expect to find his famed 24-foot barge restaurant underwater.

“What happened was Monday night into Tuesday morning there was a big storm, and it just destroyed the restaurant; it’s flipped over on Crab Island, it’s gone,” said Depass.

Depass told The Log that he and his crew had just finished refurbishing the floating restaurant, in preparation for this year’s tourist season when the fluke storm blew in.

“It’s been through several storms and the microburst, but nothing compared to what happened Monday.” Depass said that he usually anchors the barge close to shore near the Destin Coast Guard Station during storms, but this time he was not expecting such strong winds.

“We only had it set up for two days before the storm wiped it out,” he said.

Damage to the barge itself was minimal, as the foam-filled pontoons kept it afloat; however, the back stage was completely destroyed. Depass said that the real devastation was the loss of expensive restaurant appliances.

“It’s mainly the kitchen equipment like grills, fryers, and fridges are nowhere to be found,” he said. “We managed to find some of the pieces of equipment, but they were buried three feet under the sand.”

The disappearance of such large equipment is what truly baffled Depass as he said, “You wouldn’t think that a six foot Sandwich line (A refrigerator unit that weighs a couple hundred pounds) would disappear that quickly.”

Crab Island Online is a staple on Destin’s favorite sand bar. During the summer season, the company offers food and beverages, equipment rentals and live entertainment. Depass said he plans to open the rental side of business this coming Saturday, but with the great cost of repairs and kitchen equipment, and the wait for approval to serve food, the restaurant will have to come later.

“Hopefully we can get done by Memorial Day weekend,” he said. “We’re just trying to get re-open like we have for the past nine years.”


Crab Island Online has set up a PayPal donation account to help off-set the cost of rebuilding the damaged barge restaurant. To donate, email