Rhumcay Island Grille in HarborWalk Village offers up Floribbean flavor seven days a week
They opened their doors almost eight months ago and haven’t slowed down.
Rhumcay Island Grille in HarborWalk Village, at the foot of the Emerald Grande in Destin, serves up seafood and more with a Floribbean flavor for the whole family.
The open-air restaurant overlooking Destin harbor is open seven days a week from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday. It opens at 8 a.m. on the weekends for brunch with live music offered up nightly.
Rhumcay didn’t just happen to come to Destin, it was “destiny,” according to owner Rob Cvetkovski.
Cvetkovski said Rhumcay got its start in Islamorada in the Florida Keys, then grew over to Hutchison Island and then to the Bahamas. Most of the restaurants were connected to resorts or marinas.
Just before the pandemic, Cvetkovski sold all his assets and took a nine-month hiatus.
“We took a trip up to Destin, and when we got here I fell in love with the whole Panhandle,” said Cvetkovski, who never had been to the area before.
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“When I got up here, I had never seen anything like this beauty in my life,” he said. “It’s really the Bahamas in heaven.”
After seeing the area, Cvetkovski wanted to bring a Rhumcay concept to Destin.
“I wanted to give the area an opportunity to try the Floribbean flavor,” he said like they do in the Keys with Key lime and Caribbean infusions.
But Cvetkovski wasn’t sure where to open a restaurant. He visited areas along the Emerald Coast, and then decided to take an Uber just to look around. He asked the driver to take him where he picks up and drops off people.
The driver asked, "Have you been to HarborWalk?"
Cvetkovski had never heard of the place, but the minute he stepped out of the car he was hooked.
“When I got here, I was in heaven,” he said.
“I had never seen such a heartbeat to a community anywhere in the world like you guys have here,” he said. “From the harbor to the attractions on the harbor, to the boats going in and out of the harbor to the socialization that happens at Crab Island, there’s no place I’ve ever seen the abundance of this and the happiness. This is amazing."
He eventually found the leasing office and was showed the space in HarborWalk on the waterfront.
“I immediately fell in love with it. In all my previous properties the soul fits the operation. And when I walked in, you could just feel the energy level. … This is who I am. … I know I can make this because it’s part of me,” he said.
“I tell people I came to Destin because it was my destiny,” Cvetkovski added.
He met with HarborWalk developer Peter Bos, and the rest is history.
“He went over and beyond what I expected from a landlord to accommodate my needs and to assist getting us open,” he said of Bos.
Rhumcay opened its doors Nov. 11, 2020, at 11:11 a.m.
“My openings are usually big. I usually like to give it a numerical value and when I saw 11-11 at 11:11 a.m., I opened up with nobody in the kitchen but myself and the chef,” Cvetkovski said.
It was a soft opening in the offseason, so they didn’t expect a big crowd.
“At 11:11 we had 400 people in line and it’s been the busiest day since we opened,” he said.
“We had people backed up to Harry T’s waiting to get in,” Cvetkovski said.
“We didn’t expect it …. but it went all the way through 11 that night. I’ve never seen anything like it, it was great. But it wasn’t great because I was in the kitchen and I like to be out meeting the people,” he said, noting he was cooking.
And it’s been busy ever since.
“People have accepted us with open arms,” Cvetkovski said, noting 80% of the restaurant's guests are locals.
“We’re thankful for how they have supported us since day one,” he said.
Rhumcay’s specialty is its Key lime South Florida-style infused fresh seafood and fresh entrees.
The appetizers include mahi fingers to fried lobster bites to Caribbean crabsicles, the island way to eat crab meat served fried with Rhumcay's signature Louie Limey dipping sauce.
The restaurant serves up a variety of island sandwiches to tequila lime fish tacos to soups and salads. Rhumcay also has lobster grilled cheese.
As for entrees, how about grilled mahi mahi, island kebabs, island fajitas and churrasco steak topped with mango pineapple salsa?
Rhumcay has a few specials for brunch, including coconut infused French toast and lobster.
“Everything has an islandy twist to it,” Cvetkovski said.
Even the cocktails and drinks.
Rhumcay has Mermaid Water made with Calypso Spiced Rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice and Blue Curacao. It also has Goombay smash made with three kinds of rum plus fruit juice.
“Anything you could get in the Caribbean we tend to promote here,” he said. “We want to promote the laid-back lifestyle of the Caribbean. You come to sit back and enjoy the view.”
Rhumcay also has handmade covered glider booths to enjoy your meal in as well.
“Our philosophy here is we want to feed you awesome food and great service, but we want you to come experience something,” Cvetkovski said.