'Local' is what HarborWalk's East Pass Seafood and Oyster House restaurant is all about
It’s all local, from the fish on the plate to the wood on the walls, that’s what East Pass Seafood and Oyster House is all about.
Located in HarborWalk Village at the site of the old Jackacuda’s Seafood and Sushi Restaurant, East Pass Seafood and Oyster House has been open since mid-March.
“East Pass was supposed to open last March, then the COVID hit, so things got delayed,” said co-owner Tyler Jarvis.
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However, they did manage to open in July of 2020 and stayed open through October and then closed back down to make more renovations, Jarvis said.
East Pass is about paying “homage” to the area, Jarvis said, noting it is perched right on Destin harbor overlooking East Pass.
“We wanted to have an oyster bar down here at HarborWalk. That’s what people are here for, local seafood and oysters. So here we are,” Jarvis said.
East Pass is the newest in the line of restaurants owned by Jarvis and business partner Christopher Ruyan. They also have Brotula’s Seafood House and Steamer, also located on Destin harbor, and Jackacuda’s which has moved out to Emerald Coast Parkway, as well as a catering business.
East Pass' specialties are fish and oysters
They serve up fresh fish “right here from Destin,” Jarvis said. As for the oysters, they come in regionally from Alabama to Louisiana and some from Florida.
“Most of our specialties are featured around the seafood,” he said.
“But oysters are our thing,” Jarvis said, noting they have five different baked oysters on the menu as well as grilled oysters.
And the oysters are $1 per oyster.
“You can order just one or by the 100. But we do them year-round at $1.
As for the baked oysters, Jarvis has a few favorites.
Topping the list is one called “The Mayor,” named after his dad, Destin Mayor Gary Jarvis. This oyster has a bit of bacon, jalapeno and smoked gouda.
There is even the Jam Oyster, which is served up with bacon jam and bourbon cream.
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“We make all the sauces in house,” Jarvis said.
Another house special and a Jarvis favorite is the snapper and grits.
“It’s kind of a play on shrimp and grits, but we do it with snapper,” he said, noting it has a New Orleans creole sauce plus smoked gouda on the grits.
As for the bar at East Pass, they have several local drafts on tap from Destin Brewery. And all the cocktails are served up with fresh squeezed juice.
“We have a wide variety … it’s just a great place to hang out and have a drink,” Jarvis said.
East Pass is open seven days a week starting at 11 a.m. Closing time Monday through Thursday is 9 p.m., and 10 p.m. Friday through Sunday.
Happy hour is 3-6 p.m. every day, plus locals get a discount.
If these walls could talk
When they remodeled the restaurant from Jackacuda’s to East Pass, they opened up the floor plan. Instead of the bar in the front of the restaurant, they moved it to the back.
“Now we have an open-air bar that sits right on the water. It’s got a cool little feel, got that rustic local vibe,” Jarvis said.
By making the switch, it left the dining room wide open.
“So right when you walk into the restaurant you can see all the way out to the water. See all the boats, all the activity that the harbor brings,” he said.
Not only did the renovations open things up, but it brought in some local history.
“All the wood on the walls that is rustic looking is all from docks that were torn up during the renovation of HarborWalk itself,” Jarvis said.
For example, some of the wood is from the old Marina Point and local docks around the area. Jarvis’ dad, Capt. Gary Jarvis, used to dock his boat at Marina Point.
“If these walls could talk … it’s pretty cool,” Jarvis said.
All the bricks on the wall came from an old factory in Chicago to help add to the rustic look.
“We’ve got a lot of character in here,” he said.
East Pass ready for season ahead
East Pass can seat about 275 in the restaurant and another 30-40 at the bar.
“It’s a pretty fun vibe here,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis and Ruyan are still adding to East Pass, but it should be in full swing by the season.
As for the spring, "It’s been a crazy spring,” Jarvis said.
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“Spring break was great. Last year at this time we didn’t know if we were going to be able to open again in this town,” he said.
“We’re just blessed. We can’t complain,” Jarvis said, noting it’s been the best spring break across the board for all their businesses.
"People are happy to be out and enjoying life. That's what it is all about,” he said.
Jarvis said they are in need of help for East Pass, including bartenders, support staff and hostesses.
“We need people out here making memories with the folks," Jarvis said. "We’re ready for the season. I think it’s going to be a great year.”