It has been a little over five years since my bride and I first enjoyed the warmth and hospitality of the historic Desert Inn and Restaurant situated on one of the four corners of Jackass Crossing in Yeehaw Junction. The crossing is a few blocks from the intersection of State Road 60 and the Florida Turnpike.
When we drove past the Desert Inn on our way to the east coast of Florida we noted that the restaurant and motel looked pretty much the same as it did back in 2011. This time, though, we didn't see a big herd of Harleys out front or a plethora of battered pickups. We were on a mission so we kept going. On our return trip we again came upon the Inn and since we were hungry and thirsty we decided to bravely enter this ancient establishment.
My, oh my, has the place changed! The screen door has been replaced by a dandy glass door. The booths are gone, so is the whiskey. Nothing harder than a limited selection of beer and wine is available to thirsty travelers. The steaks and swamp foods have been replaced by a very limited menu of sandwiches. The Belle and I bellied up to the bar choosing to sit where we once sat before.
My bride ordered a beer and a rather ordinary burger while I chose the rather ordinary sounding Crispy Fish Sandwich. Holy crap, I hope that wasn't the child's sandwich!
That delicious, crispy fried monster was a hand-full, but made me forget my disappointment in not getting the frog legs I had been craving.
I wish the new owners of this property well, but it certainly lacks some of the charm of years past. I am not sure what the former owner and recently deceased Beverly Zichex (of Zichex's, corner Dale Mabry and Gandy in Tampa) would have thought of the changes. The new owners want to turn the Inn into a tourist friendly destination. They seem to be succeeding since the clientele included a family with a screeching child and a slew of older folks in requisite touristy attire.
I see some good but a lot of sad with the passing of a piece of old Florida. The only Indians we saw on this visit were the three sitting off by themselves in a corner of the dining room.
If you care to take a trip back in time, click on this link: The Desert Inn and Restaurant 2011.