Skyway Jacks 2795 34th St. - St. Petersburg, FL 33711 (727)866-3217 March 20, 2010
The original Skyway Jacks opened in 1976. That was back when the old Skyway bridge was in service. Back then Jacks was located at the marina a mile or two north of the bridge. A couple of things may have contributed to Jacks move farther north to 34th street. For one thing, the restaurant had to share limited parking with the marina. Also, when the bridge was struck by the freighter Capricorn and collapsed in 1980, the roadway was for local and construction traffic only. The replacement bridge was not opened until 1987.
It had been a clear sunny day. There was a slight breeze that helped to keep some of the seemingl
y ever present marine haze away. Tom and I had been waiting for such a day to go and try for some spectacular photos of the bridge. It is a beautiful bridge. When constructed, it was the world’s longest cable stay bridge. At the right time of day the towers and the suspension cables catch the light and look like giant sails upon the sea. We got some shots from both the north and the south side of the bridge and worked up quite an appetite in the process. Driving home Tom told me about Skyway Jacks. He remembered how popular it was back when it was located at the marina. People often had to stand in line waiting to get in. It had been a long time since he visited Jacks. We decided to revisit some of old-time St. Petersburg and get lunch to boot.
Skyway Jacks is open for the breakfast and lunch crowd. They offer dinner style meals but you had better be finished eating by 2:00PM. True to Tom’s description of the old Jacks, the clientele is eclectic. There are the locals, some retired some service people. There are fishermen in still wet clothing and businessmen in their suits. No one would notice Tom and I. We fit right in. The décor of the restaurant is a longtime ongoing collection of local artifacts, mostly fishing and marine related. Interesting, to say the least.
estaurant was about half full when we entered with lots of activity. We seated ourselves at a convenient booth. Our server was promptly at the table when we sat down. With glasses of water, menus and a note pad, she just had the look of a long time waitress. She was wearing, as were the rest of the staff, one of the souvenir Skyway Jacks Restaurant T-shirts.
It was to be a lunch instead of a breakfast so we ordered soft drinks to slake our thirst from a day in the sun. Sipping and reading the menu, we came across some interesting selections. Scrambled brains, for one; pork brains scrambled with eggs and served with a biscuit, potatoes or grits. How does on stock for that dish? I also noticed it was one of the few places in town where you could get liver and onions or chili-mac. The breakfast menu features the usual eggs, omelets, pancakes and waffles. But they also offer eggs Benedict or egg Florentine.
The lunch portion of the menu includes hot dishes featuring fish, beef, veal, and pork cuts. There is
a selection of cold and hot sandwiches to choose from. It is a full menu including a number of selections in the children’s section; something for everyone in this community restaurant.
My choice was the fried clam strips with French fries ($5.25 on the hot lunch and dinner menu). A sizeable and adequate serving of both clams and crispy fries, it was well prepared. It was good but with one slight complaint. There were several smaller pieces of breaded clam in the batch and they cook faster than the rest making for a few pieces of overly cooked clam. A small complaint for an otherwise well prepared meal.
Tom ordered the tuna salad platter ($5.85 on the salad menu). The menu lists it as a “generous portion of tuna salad on lettuce with tomatoes and hard-boiled egg.” Generous was an apt word. When it was placed before him, Tom said, “Oh, my Lord,” suitably impressed by the salad’s generous nature. He said t was well season and not too much mayonnaise. He enjoyed his meal.
A side of corn muffins ($2.00) was shared. Large and surprisingly light, they were very good with a gob of melted butter.
The server was always nearby and was quick to refill the drink glasses. It was a lunch filled with gab about the day’s activities, light and shadows, f-stops and shutter speeds. By the time we had finished our leisurely meal we suddenly realized that we were the only remaining customers. The staff had quietly gone about their close-up routine allowing us an interrupted lunch. We thank them for that courtesy.
A favorite with locals especially boaters and fishermen on the way to the marina and the fishing piers, Skyway Jacks has been fixture for many years. It serves good food at reasonable prices. It should be around for many more years. If you are on 34th heading for the Skyway Bridge, stop in for a nice breakfast or lunch.