Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Musings, opinions, observations, questions, and random thoughts on island life, Fernandina Beach and more

Where’s Amelia Island’s Best Burger? Is It Main Beach’s Putt Putt, T-Ray’s, Or ?

Woman holding hamburger. Isolated.There are some really good hamburgers on Amelia island with South 8th Street’s T-Ray’s being named the best in all of Florida by USA Today, and I’ve got to admit I’ve eaten my share and find it hard to argue with that paper’s verdict.

Running a close second or possibly tied for first is a place none of us would expect – the Putt Putt at Main Beach, which serves one of the juiciest and tastiest burgers under the sun, and that’s where you’ll have to eat it too as Putt-Putt only has three outdoor picnic tables where diners can sit to enjoy their meal.

However, the benches are shaded, provide a great view of the ocean, and it’s fun to watch the Putt Putt players on a course little changed from its 1959 construction and folks still playing the game the way it was designed to be played since 1954. You can enjoy a soft summer breeze and one of the island’s best and juiciest hamburgers, where the highest price for its one-third pounder specialty burgers is only $6.50 with the same size Beach Bum Burgers with less toppings ranging from $5.00 to $6.00.

If you’re lucky the delightful, personable and pretty Megan Womble, a Furman University student and member of its cheerleading team, who is summer jobbing at Putt Putt, will assist you and your family or friends. New owners Janet and Frank Blake have done a suburb job with Putt Putt also adding bike and beach chair and umbrella rentals all under the supervision of their affable GM Justin Reeves.

You can also order your burgers to go as many did the day Linda and I stopped by or you can take them to one of the many covered picnic areas scattered around Main Beach including on the boardwalk. Call ’em at 904/261-4443.

Other island places that serve burgers I’ve tried and like are South 8th Street’s Halftime Sports Bar & Grill, particularly if you smother it in cook Joe Kelley’s “best chili on the island,” and the South 3rd St. Florida House’s Leddy’s Porch, which offers a very generous one-half pound slab of delicious ground beef called the Leddy Burger. Tasty’s, at the corner of Centre St. and South 8th specializes in burgers but I’ve never tried one, but those that have tell me they are, well – tasty.

And speaking of burgers I’ve noticed a rash of Facebook postings recently with photos of slaughter houses, etc. by some local liberal vegan folks. Is it just me or have others also observed that conservative folks that choose not to eat meat, just don’t eat it, while the vegan lefties scream and holler and want all meat products banned for everyone? Go figure.


Can Voters Say “No” To Storms? Instead of making the decisions they were elected to make the Fernandina Beach City Commissioners led by Moe, Curley and Larry want to jam all of their responsibilities onto a straw poll ballot including everything from a downtown parking garage and the golf course to the water front park and storm water issues. So if the public tells them to vote “no” on dealing with storm water how does the community propose to handle that?  Hey, people just because  you vote “no” doesn’t mean it won’t rain. Dave Lott, who acted as interim city manager before Joe Geritty got the job,  responded to a Fernandina Observer article on the issue with a logical response saying: Rather than reinvent the wheel and rely on non-expert citizen’s research the City had a study done in 2010 on establishing a storm water assessment and that report contained a list of all the storm water projects totaling $18 million with two of the projects in excess of $4 million each. Due to the economic recession being felt at the time, my recollection is that the Commission established a minimal charge that the 2013-14 budget shows will bring in an estimated $260,000. This will cover about $3.5 million in capital improvements (assuming 4.5% over 20 years); not enough for either of the larger projects.” The report is available on the City website. It’s issues like this that prove what an asset Dave Lott was to the community and make the upcoming election more and more critical to the citizens of Fernandina Beach. Voters need to seriously consider casting their ballots for Robin Lentz and Tim Poynter for the seats currently held by Larry & Moe (Sarah Pelican and Charlie Corbett) respectively or we’ll be facing three more years of Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.


Doggone-It: You could see this one coming once the Fernandina Beach City Commission said it was OK for dogs to dine with their owners on restaurant patios if the eatery purchased the required permit. I wrote recently that I would avoid those places since dogs bark; fight with each other; are hazards to servers and patrons; emit dog odors; have fleas and ticks; and bite folks. In a recent letter to the editor in the Fernandina Beach News-Leader, the writer, Steven Counce, recalls a conversation he had with a relative of a restaurant owner who told him that one of the restaurant’s customers was bitten by a canine guest resulting in the dog owner and restaurant both being sued. I also avoid hotels and motels that advertise they are “pet friendly” for the same reasons I avoid restaurant’s with canine customers. I like dogs but have no desire to share a hotel or dining room with them even though they won’t ignore you by poking at their iPhones throughout a meal. If the law suit story is indeed true I think we’ll be seeing fewer doggie diners in public places and that’s a good thing. Speaking of animals, friend, island resident and not the governor, Rick Scott, observes that the City Commission voted to allow dogs on restaurant patios but are considering booting horses off the beach, a move instigated in Rick’s opinion, by the fact that the dogs obviously have a better PR agency than the horses.


Statutory Criminals? There are some folks out there that know who snatched the trident along with the arm from the very expensive marble landmark statue of King Neptune about 4 am August 5 that sits in front of the 9,000 square-foot “Paradiso” ocean-front home of Paul Krom and Daniel Todd Ward at 3036 South Fletcher. If they come forward and spill the beans they could stand to pick up a substantial reward that is being offered by friends of the home owners and other island residents who are disgusted with the felony vandalism that has taken place on the statue for the third time since February. The gorgeous statue of hand-carved marble, was imported from Italy and this time the cretins left it beyond repair. From video of the crime it appears to be the same two adult men, about 19-21 years old, who his time left a note stating, “Dear Poseidon, No time to explain. I need this more than you do. I love u. XOXO. Love Zeus.” The only possible reason to commit such a mindless act would be to brag about it to others and it is exactly this motive that will lead to the arrest of these two mental midgets, who have seriously underestimated the seriousness of their crime and the financial impact of their thefts. When — not if — these bozos are arrested, they will be made aware that they are facing felony charges, jail time, fines and legal costs of certainly more than $10,000. Or maybe they can plea bargain if they commission a new statue in Italy, pay all shipping and setup costs, and then stand out front of the statue in daily four hour shifts for a month holding signs saying “I’m the idiot who vandalized this statue.” Anyone with information is asked to call Fernandina Beach Detective Mike Mazurky at 904/310-3217 and that includes any possible fraternity brothers of these two dim-wits. And if you want to donate to the reward fund drop you check off to Deborah Gold at the Hoyt House, the corner of South 8th St. and Atlantic or email me at and I’ll tell you where to go to contribute.


Climate Change? How About Attitude Change? Friend Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, says that as she was getting ready to go to downtown Atlanta to testify at an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hearing she got a message from an acquaintance who is a former EPA employee and she shared her upcoming testimony with him. He responded: “It is well written and accurate. However it is the type of stuff they hear on a regular basis. They are driven by pure left wing politics. No matter how good your material and the similar material of your counterparts across the country they have no intention of listening.” Another example of how this administration’s liberal agenda is driving the country off a cliff.


I Still Don’t Get It Department: Steve Kelley and George Spicer, candidates for the Nassau County Board of Commissioners refused to respond to the Fernandina Observer’s request for them to answer one simple question: How would your election to the Board of County Commissioners be of benefit to people who live in the City of Fernandina Beach?  Kelley’s opponents for his District 2 seat, Mike Boyle and write-in candidate Eugene Alley, both answered it as did Barry Holloway, the incumbent District 4 candidate who is being challenged by Spicer. Even though Kelley and Spicer refused to respond to the Observer, they took the time to answer almost 20 questions posed to them by the Amelia Island-Fernandina Beach-Yulee Chamber of Commerce as did their opponents. I’m suspicious of candidates that ignore the media and even more suspicious of Kelley and Spicer, whose campaign signs appear throughout the county side-by-side and it begs another simple question: Why did you two refuse to respond to the Observer?


Obamacare By The Nmbers: 42: This is the number of significant changes that have been made to the Affordable Care Act since its passage: two by the Supreme Court, 16 by Congress, and 24 by President Obama himself, unilaterally. Source: Galen Institute via Georgia Public Policy Foundation.


Civilization Versus Barbarism: Dr. Arieh Eldad an M.D. at Hadassah Hospital in Israel  was instrumental in establishing the “Israeli National Skin Bank”, which is the largest in the world. The National Skin Bank stores skin for every day needs as well as for war time or mass casualty situations. The skin bank is hosted at the Hadassah Ein Kerem University hospital in Jerusalem where he was the chairman of plastic surgery. During his tenure he was asked to supply skin for an Arab woman from Gaza , who was hospitalized in Soroka Hospital in Beersheva, after suffering severe burns in from a gas canister explosion while cooking. Dr. Eldad and his staff supplied all the needed Homo-grafts for her treatment. She was successfully treated by Dr. Eldad’s colleague, Prof. Lior Rosenberg and discharged to return to Gaza but was invited for regular follow-up visits to the outpatient clinic in Beersheva. On a return visit she was caught at a border crossing wearing a suicide belt. She meant to explode herself in the outpatient clinic of the hospital where they saved her life.  Dr. Eldad says, and I wholeheartedly agree, that her action is an example of the war between Jews and Muslims in the Land of Israel. It is not a territorial conflict. As Dr. Eldad says “This is a civilization conflict, or rather a war between civilization & barbarism.”


Thinking Out Loud: How can voter ID laws be racist as the Justice Department, the Democrat Party and many liberals claim? Isn’t it racist to assume that only white people are capable of getting an ID? *** Listening to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi recently I was reminded of a comment that former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards made about one of his opponents while running for office some 20 years ago: “Dave Treen is so slow, it takes him an hour-and-a-half to watch 60 Minutes.” *** I get requests from people to “like” them on Facebook even though I have no idea who some of these folks are. It reminds me of my high school days when kids I didn’t know would stick their yearbook under my nose and ask me to sign it and write a message. It was irrational then and even more so now. *** The poorest cities in the country and those with both the highest crime rates and highest unemployment rates are all controlled by Democrats so if I was a desperately poor person living in one of those hell holes, I’d be pleading with the Democrat Party to please stop helping me.*** In the “Well, what do you expect department,” folks in Jacksonville attending their friend’s “Welcome Home From Jail” party this week watched as an attendee was arrested for critically stabbing the guest of honor’s brother reports the Jacksonville Times-Union.


Attention Jacksonville Commuters: Did you know that you can get a round trip ride from Fernandina Beach ,Yulee, Callahan or Hilliard to Jacksonville for just two bucks? I didn’t either until Fernandina City Commissioner Johnny Miller told me that folks can just sit back, read the newspaper or a magazine, play with their iPhone, take a nap, or work on that morning’s presentation until they reach their destination, in a comfortable air conditioned van provided by the Council on Aging. And you can be any age to board if you can cough up a buck each way. The service, which started May 1, picks up folks on Amelia Island at Wal Mart at 6:30 am and the Yulee Publix at 6:45 and drops everybody off at the Rosa Parks Station in downtown Jacksonville by 7:15 am. Passengers are picked up for the return trip at the Rosa Parks Station at 5:15 pm and dropped off at Publix at 5:45 pm and Wall Mart at 6 pm. Trips to and from Hilliard and Callahan are also available with pickup times of 6:30 a.m. at the Hilliard Winn Dixie and 6:45 am at the Callahan Winn Dixie, arriving at Rosa Parks at 7:15 am. Passengers are picked up for the return trip at 5:15 pm and dropped off at the Hilliard and Callahan Winn Dixie’s at 5:15 pm and 5:45 pm respectively. For more information call the Council on Aging at 904/262-0701, Nassau Transit 904/261-0701 or the Hilliard West Side Senior Center 904/845-3331.


Boats & Booze: Wines by Steve (Steve Raszkin) and Amelia River Cruises have teamed up to offer a special wine tasting aboard one of Kevin McCarthy’s cruise boats October 10, beginning at 5 pm and lasting about one-and-a-half or two hours. For $50 a person you get to taste four different wines and snack on yet to be determined  food items. This will sell out fast so call Steve at 904/557-1506 or Amelia River Cruises at 904/261-9972.

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  • In day to day life, the well known football players are becoming a role model to motivate the
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  • Thanks so much for the burger tip, Dave. I’m going to go get that putt putt burger right now. I must have all burgers on this island and recently appointed myself the Official Amelia Island Burger Judge, so it’s kind of my job. Look, I don’t have a problem. People have hobbies; this is mine, that’s all. I can handle it. I can quit any time I want. Mom? Why are you and my friends in my living room looking all serious and who is this guy with the clipboard? I DON’T HAVE A PROBLEM.

    Anyway I’ve got some others for you. My reigning #1 island champ is the burger at Bright Mornings. Why is it so good? I have no idea. I asked head honcho Dale Jr. why it was so good and whether there was there anything special or specific going on there. But it sounds pretty much just like basic meat and basic seasoning. So I don’t know why and I don’t care, I just want it. It’s easy to miss Bright Mornings tucked back there or not realize they do more than breakfast based on the name of the place, but go get you that burger. You won’t be sorry.

    Another good one I haven’t had in a while is the one at Horizons. Very nice. Haven’t had it since they moved and don’t know if anything has changed.

    My most recent exciting find was the burger at the Falcon’s Nest. I’ve lived here for years and had never once ventured down there because going south of Sadler feels like driving to Tierra del Fuego, but I resolved to remedy that. And the burger is my first litmus test of any place. This one passed with flying colors. They grind their meat in house from three cuts that I can’t remember, but I think they say one of them was a wagyu cut. Good char, nice toasted bun. Really a great burger. Nice onion rings too boot and a few good craft beers.

    I’ve had a few T-Ray’s burgers because I kept hearing how great they were, but they just never resonated with me. Maybe the seasoning? Maybe the char level? The meat? I don’t know, but I feel like the odd man out. My friends love that burger. Best in Florida, etc. I love that place, but just not the burger. I may need to revisit it to reevaluate in light of wider island burger experience context.

    For some reason I thought Tasty’s was going to be a fancy burger boutique back before it opened. Instead it’s an old school indy burger counter that uses the popular smashburger style, where they squish it flat so more surface area gets that lovely Maillard-reaction crust. It’s basically a fast food burger, but just done better than at fast food places, with so much more flavor. I believe the meat is a higher quality and also the buns. It hits the spot for me every few weeks but is just a different animal than the big juicy kind of steakhouse burger. It has a great hometown/family feel though, and is run and staffed by nice people who aren’t generified by uniforms. Seriously, everybody there is so nice and so conscientious about good service and good cheer. What a win. It has that community hub feel that I think makes it worth it by itself. Not quite to T-Ray’s level of rich local texture but getting there. I don’t think T-Ray’s can be beat in that regard. Tasty’s is a little more expensive than it seems like it ought to be but that prime corner lot can’t be cheap, and you won’t care when you get that first bite that scratches the itch. You’re a local fixture – go grace them. Check out the daily specials calendar and the surprising craft beer options.

    Honorable mention to the burger at 29 South. I haven’t had it in several years or I’d have more to say about it, but I remember it being good. I think they used to call it the Kobe beef burger but everybody had to stop saying Kobe, so now maybe it’s called wagyu, not sure.

    The only other place I can think of right now that I need to try is Eight Burger Bar & Sports Lounge down at the Ritz, which I’ve only just heard of. I’m having a hard time convincing myself to go somewhere where I have to do valet parking to have a burger at a sports bar, but as the official Judge, I’ll have to get it done here soon.

    Thanks again and keep us updated on important burger matters.

  • Dave, I’m embarrassed by my wall of text comment, but this stingy comment box tosses out my paragraph breaks! Don’t think poorly of me, o journalist.

  • OK just had the putt putt burger and it was indeed a good one. Why doesn’t everyone toast their buns this way? Toast your buns, burgermakers! Its makes such a difference. An extra layer of texture and flavor. For science, I will need to test this burger again and then probably again. I asked them what their off-season hours were going to be and they said they’re in discussions about that right now.


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