Lazy Days South, a Marathon incarnation of the popular Islamorada restaurant, opened its doors Friday at Marathon Marina on 11th Street Ocean.
Lazy Days’ owners, Chef Lupe and Michelle Ledesma, have been preparing the location for about three months. The menu will be virtually identical to their restaurant in Islamorada, with the same emphasis on local seafood.
Islamorada residents Phillip Sena, owner of the Caribbean Resort, and longtime friend Robert Leef bought the Marathon Marina property in October. Previously, the restaurant there operated as Frosty’s.
Since the October purchase, the restaurant facility has been revamped with air-conditioning and plumbing work, as well as a top-to-bottom makeover, Chef Lupe said.
Fresh yellow and bright white paint now greet guests, who can relax under new lighting and fans. In keeping with the seafood theme, there are tasteful works of fish art scattered about the walls.
The chef said he’s excited about the large kitchen, the potential of 200 seats and the wonderful view.
The Ledesmas have hired about 40 people to work in the new restaurant.
The “cook-your-catch” option is a popular one at the Islamorada location, and Chef Lupe’s offering the same family-style deal in Marathon.
He said fresh food is one of Lazy Day’s signatures, with everything cooked to order. Sauces are another specialty, as is the banana bread that guests will get as soon as they’re seated.
Appetizers range from $6.95 for mozzarella sticks with homemade marinara sauce to $17.95 for a pound of peel-and-eat shrimp. Entrees range from $14.95 for chicken marsala to $27.95 for filet mignon, with a variety of other meat, seafood and pasta dishes priced in between. There are also soups, including conch chowder and French onion, sandwiches and salads.
The Ledesmas aim for a relaxed meal, giving people plenty of time to dine and enjoy the view. “You don’t want to be rushed,” he said, particularly with a sunset view like the one from the deck at Lazy Days South.
Chef Lupe got his start in the restaurant business as a dishwasher in 1986. He says he was lucky to work with chefs and cooks willing to teach, as he progressed up the ladder to prep and to cook and then to chef. His wife, Michelle, who he met at work 20 years ago, runs the floor.
The Ledesmas will split their time between the two restaurants, with help in both places from key experienced staff.
New co-owner Sena and the Ledesmas go way back; they were partners in Lazy Days when it originally opened in Islamorada.
The Marathon Marina property includes a 118-slip marina, boatyard, ship’s store and the restaurant. It had been in the hands of a receiver, Andrew Bolnick, who was appointed to manage the property during foreclosure.
Once part of Cay Clubs’ plans to remake several Keys properties as luxury waterfront resorts, the marina complex reverted to backer SunVest Communities USA LLC of Hallandale. SunVest ran into problems of its own in the moribund real estate market.
The waterfront restaurant was most recently home to Frosty’s, which shut down in July; before that, it was the popular eatery Cabots, which Cay Clubs shuttered when the developer’s businesses started to falter.
Sena and Leef have some ideas on how to improve the overall property, but getting the restaurant open was number one on the list.
Both said Marathon Marina will get a gradual makeover, with the addition of landscaping, pavers, better lighting, and maybe a pool.
"This isn’t going to happen overnight," Sena said at the time of the purchase. "This is a long-term investment."
Lazy Days South is open 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Happy hour, featuring drink and appetizer deals, is 4 to 6 p.m. Get a sneak peek at the menu on the Web site for the Islamorada location: www.lazydaysrestaurant.com. The Marathon restaurant can be reached at 289-0839.