U-Turn For Breakfast!
Last January, Don and I left our hotel in St. Pete Beach and headed north. We were planning to grab coffee and eat granola bars in the car, but the sight of this diner made me giddy. I grinned as we drove by, then told Don to turn around. He did... happily.
The pink pig certainly lured me, but the yellow sign below, made us both curious. Any place that serves $3.99 breakfast specials from 5 to 8am, must be full of character!
The upper part of the sign, was what truly delighted me. I didn't know who Jack was, but I was eager to find out what the connection was with that special bridge!
I have fond memories of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, from when I was a kid. We crossed the original 2-lane bridge for the first time in 1968, when a hurricane was brewing in the gulf. It was creepy and thrilling, even without knowing the bridge would collapse about 10 years later.
The crowded parking lot was a good sign. Would it be filled with children? What kid wouldn't beg Mommy or Daddy to pull over to the restaurant, with Humpty Dumpty and a piggy bench. The motorcycle on the pole might have excited some older kids.
There were cartoon images, too. I wasn't quite sure what to think about the ethnically diverse pig officers... eating bacon. Yikes.
I posed next to the chicken and painted windows. Since 1976? Really? It seemed a whole lot older than that.
Crowded at the Counter
The place was hopping on a drizzly morning. Almost every stool was taken at the counter.
The tables near the windows didn't open up, till a little later. The corner looked pretty darn cozy, below the sheer curtains and shelves of piggy knickknacks. I forced myself not to laugh.
Table With a View
Actually our table had a fine view. We could keep an eye on all the men, dining at the counter and the servers, rushing about. It felt like we'd stepped back in time, when I noticed a few men reading newspapers. I didn't see a single person staring at a cell phone.
Our server Amy, let us know how the restaurant got its name. Jack, the original owner, opened the diner at a location near the Sunshine Skyway. He had been a Navy cook and knew how to cook for hungry crowds. Fishermen from the nearby marinas were a big part of his business. But the Skyway was destroyed in 1980, when a freighter collided with a support column, killing 35.
Business changed and Jack moved his restaurant north, to 34th street. Evidently, a lot of business still comes from the fishermen at the marina.
Coffee and Christmas
Amy brought us our coffee in Christmas mugs. We studied our menus and peeked around at some of the decor.
So Many Pigs
When Amy came back for our order, I just had to ask. "Has anyone ever counted, to know how many pigs are in this place?" She shook her head and laughed. "A lot!"
She said there used to be a lot more pigs than now. "The new owner took over 4 years ago. He's been gradually taking some of the stuff down." Then she added, "He's from New York." As if that explained it.
Don ordered the Ham Hash, which was a blend of grilled potatoes & onions, topped with 2 poached eggs and served with a biscuit and Hollandaise.
Amy said she would be happy to put the "Holly sauce" on the side. That gave me a little chuckle.
My big order was two slices of raisin toast, which came with homemade, green tomato jelly! I figured I could save the "Real He-Mans" order for next time. That would be, two 8-ounce steaks, 4 eggs, potatoes, sausage, gravy, baked apples and 2 biscuits!
Wash Up Time
It's always nice to wash up before you hit the road. Some of our most iconic diners have had the most memorable restrooms. I headed for the sows and Don headed for the boars.
Off We Go
We headed off down the road feeling pretty pleased with our stop. I couldn't help sharing the experience with a quick Instagram post. It wasn't long, before I got 2 comments. Who would have guessed that I would know 2 people who have been to Skyway Jack's. Yay, for the friendly staff and crazy pigs and chickens at breakfast!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.