OKALOOSA ISLAND — Though its owners have said nothing about what’s happening at Okaloosa Island’s Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar and Grill, word has slipped out that what was announced as a “major remodeling” has become a “transition.”
Public records indicate that developer Jay Odom, a business associate of Fudpuckers’ executives Tim Edwards and Chester Kroeger, has become a big player in whatever changes are afoot.
Edwards told a reporter in late December, when Fudpucker’s announced it was closing its doors, that major remodeling was being done and the restaurant/bar/arcade would open come spring.
As the days have gotten longer, and spring breakers have come and gone, the building remains locked down, though workers have been spotted entering and leaving, and the many Bayside Marina activities available behind the restaurant continue to draw customers.
Though neither Edwards, Kroeger nor Odom would return phone calls to discuss what “transition” – a property manager’s term – is occurring at the island Fudpucker’s, the Jay Odom Group website provides some clues.
“In partnership with local restaurateurs, Chester Kroeger (‘Father Fud’) and Tim Edwards, The Jay Odom Group invested in this local’s favorite (and very popular tourist destination) restaurant and marina,” the website says. “The Jay Odom Group permitted and constructed a 500′ long, 50 slip dock extension at the existing marina on this site, which is open to public docking for restaurant patrons and leases space for local water sports.
“With 20,000 square feet of prime bay front space on beautiful Okaloosa Island, and a gorgeous view of Choctawhatchee Bay, this venue features 2 spectacular dining rooms, a private party room, a dinner theater, a sports and oyster bar ‘Fudshuckers’, ‘Fat Daddy’s arcade’, a ‘Fudpucker Trading Company’ retail store, and photo opportunities with live baby alligators,” the site said.
It is unclear whether the Fudpucker’s name will survive whatever transition Odom has in mind, but Fudpucker’s Management Co. LLC now lists 4652 Gulfstarr Drive, the Jay Odom Group address, as its mailing address. State documents indicate the address was changed March 28.
Odom himself is listed simply as registered agent of Fudpucker’s on the Island LLC. Fudpucker’s Management Company is listed as manager of the Fudpucker’s on the Island LLC.
Kroeger founded Fudpucker’s in 1983, and the restaurant has had a location on Okaloosa Island since 1986. It was moved from a location on Santa Rosa Boulevard to the current address at U.S. Highway 98 on the Choctawhatchee Bay in 2012.
“We have a long history on the island, and we’re looking forward to what 2018 brings, both in the community and at Fudpucker’s,” Edwards said late last year when announcing the closing of the business.
If, as it appears, Kroeger and Edwards will have some hand in whatever the Okaloosa Island Fudpucker’s is becoming, it won’t be the first time Odom has collaborated with them.
The three were founding partners of Sterling Diversified LLC, a company that in 2014 moved to consolidate two fixed base wing operator businesses at the Destin Executive Airport. Odom owned Destin Jet, one of the fixed base wing operator businesses, at the time the consolidation was being considered by Okaloosa County.
A Fudpucker’s Destin location remains open.