Longleaf Stories

full circle in the hundred acre wood

Anytime we get hungry for fresh fried mullet and cole slaw, we drive in from the woods to Bayou Chico and the Marina Oyster Barn, home of Rooks Marina here in Pensacola, Florida. It’s a local joint and you kind of have to know about it to know about it. We’ve been going there for years. Recently, a friend has been trying to lure us out of the woods to have dinner with him. He felt like he had enjoyed the hospitality of the Longleaf Bar & Grill too often (not so) and seemed determined to take us to dinner. He suggested the Irish Politician’s Club at Maguire’s, whose claim to fame is their thick, prime steaks, (but we’ve both kind of had our fill of beef for life), or Steelwood, a fine private club just over the line in Alabama, (but it requires wearing something snazzier than shorts and jogging shoes and besides, being in Alabama makes it seem far away and we didn’t want to leave the pup home alone over-long).

So when we suggested the Marina Oyster Barn, he said “Sure, how about Saturday?”


We met up there for an early supper. They have measurements on one wall showing how high the water came into the restaurant during various hurricanes over the years. Probably why the floor tilts and sags a bit, just enough to make me feel like I’m on a floating boat.

A mangy old ginger cat took up residence at the restaurant some years ago.  Buck and I noticed him hanging around the small porch by the front door. Next visit we saw him sporting a flea collar. Winter came and a fleece-lined cat bed appeared. The ginger cat began looking a bit more prosperous. But this time, we discovered he has gone into comfortable retirement indoors and been replaced by a feline with a different personality.


He wasn’t on post when we went in, but when we came out and were standing in the parking lot talking with our friend, I spotted him. Most of the folks entering would stop to kibbutz with the cat or even reach out to stroke him.


He looked a lot bigger than the old cat. Tougher, too, so I decided to walk around to the other side and get a couple of close-ups.


He was in mid-yawn and didn’t notice me at first.


But then he got me in his sights and it became clear to me that he doesn’t truck with paparazzi, so I took my little camera and went around the corner to take a shot or two of the water on this pretty afternoon instead.

View of Bayou Chico from Marina Oyster Barn, Pensacola, Florida P1050022 P1050025 Public boat ramp near Marina Oyster Barn, Pensacola, Florida

Picture perfect Pensacola afternoon.

10 thoughts on “New Watch Cat at the Local Fish Joint

  1. David C. Bailey says:

    I love cats and this one looked as if it had plenty of personality, but I kept waiting for the Main Course. Pray tell, what did you eat? Smoked mullet, fried mullet, mullet with grits. Each day at 5 sharp when I worked at Cocoa TODAY with Richard Gilbert, the Dixie Bar and Grill across the street from the newspaper would put out fresh-caught and fried mullet to help us journos soak up some of the beer we drank by the gallon.


    1. Beth says:

      Mullet, cheese grits and cole slaw for Buck, fried shrimp for our friend, and mullet with (oh God I’m embarrassed to say a double order of steamed broccoli) for me. The best memories I have in this little place are in cool months (with an R) scarfing down raw oysters. Used to live in Tallahassee (a hundred years ago in my first marriage) and spent 3 days with a bunch of capitol reporters at a house we all rented in Sopchoppy — one of those drinking, poker playing, walk to the river deals — actually was under mandatory evacuation for a hurricane but none of us left just stagger walked to the river singing “Shall We Gather.” I just remember one guy, Jim, who did all the cooking at breakfast, making biscuits and drinking beer. Big grin, and saying “Beer! Breakfast of champions!”


      1. dclaud says:

        Well told and thanks. It reminds me of rising before dawn, fishing for trout on the Indian River with a newspaper buddy, releasing all the trout we caught and then throwing a cast net for mullet, which Anne would fry and serve with grits for breakfast. I love my home state of NC but that doesn’t mean I don’t miss Fla. every day of my life.


  2. Wally Jones says:

    Mullet and BROCCOLL??????

    I’m pretty sure there is a state law against that combination. If not, there oughta be!

    Looks like a great place to enjoy a meal and a view, even if there is a c-a-t on the porch.


    1. Wally Jones says:

      See – I can’t even spell the stuff!


  3. Jeanne says:

    Isn’t there something suspicious about a watch cat at a fish cafe? Or has politics made me too paranoid?


  4. wordstrumpet says:

    Now that is a cat deserving of a great fish joint–or vice versa. He reminds me a bit of my two spoiled, coddled boys (who my husband calls thugs because of their behavior). And I love the story about how the ginger cat appeared, a bit mangy, then the next time he sported a flea collar, and then the next time he had a fluffy bed…and now he’s living the good life inside.


    1. Beth says:

      (This is weird — pretty sure I didn’t dream I replied, Charlotte, but I clearly did something or didn’t do something to make it disappear!) I love how your husband calls your cat boys “thugs” — we happily get out-maneuvered by our pup all the time, and wouldn’t have it any other way. That new marina cat definitely has presence.


  5. nnaatnif says:

    Really interesting!


    1. Beth says:

      Thanks! And thanks for reading . . .I’ve been away from posting for a bit, but will resume shortly.


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