On the Menu: Eaton’s Beach, Ocala
Boardwalks, open-air bars, live music and tremendous food, all set to a soundtrack of boaters and rolling waves. Sounds like the perfect setting for your next get-a-way, right? Well, now you don’t have to leave home to enjoy a beachfront experience or the Coney Island nightlife.
STORY BY: Kelli Fuqua Hart
PHOTOGRAPHY BY: CHRIS REDD
Much like Jay Eaton’s vision in 1924, Randy and Sue Keuntjes had a similar vision to revive Eaton’s Beach and provide a family-friendly atmosphere with great food, great entertainment and a coastal experience. And they hit the nail on the head with Eaton’s Beach Sandbar and Grill.
There is so much history to Eaton’s Beach, told through black and white photos and locals who were lucky enough to enjoy it. From sunbathing beauties to the gents who spent their days playing pinball or billiards, Eaton’s Beach has been remembered as a place where memories were created. Today, it’s a place where they are being created, once again.
Overwhelmed with enjoyment, guests will experience purposeful detail from floor to ceiling, including some original Eaton Beach artifacts that have been integrated in to the decor. Pecky Cypress walls, a hand painted mural of Jay Eaton, a water ski covered bar and an upside down billiard table are just a few of the quirky, yet brilliant details of the new eatery.
Surrounded by bay doors, on any given day, the entire dining area can be opened up and filled with a gentle breeze or the sounds of the lake. Colorful support beams have been hand painted and distressed and are lettered and numbered with hidden meanings for the Keuntjes clan. From birth years to old motor cross numbers, each beam represents something special to their family.
Eaton’s Beach Sandbar and Grill comes equipped with a state of the art kitchen, handicap accessibility leading all the way to the shoreline, two large bars with a near 180-degree accessibility, flat screen TVs, ceiling fans, a floating boat dock, event space for private parties and the list goes on and on.
And although it seems the atmosphere is unbeatable, out comes the cuisine!
Keuntjes, through divine intervention, was aligned with Chef Dave Del Rio of Tampa Florida. Del Rio won Keuntjes and Co. over with his signature dishes and his trademarked Florisiana favorites. Called the “Spice Guy,” by manager Gary Giberson, Chef Del Rio puts a mouth-watering twist on our favorite foods, making them even more irresistible and pleasing to the palate.
Chef Del Rio has turned some of our favorite comfort foods in to delicacies. For example, his version of Macaroni and Cheese includes a made-to-order recipe of Cavatappi noodles, Andouille sausage, smoked ham, diced tomato and seasoned Tasso, all smothered in a home-made four-cheese sauce. It’s a helping large enough to share, but one you may not want to.
The burger options are so unique and so delicious, that deciding will be the hardest part. From Del Rio’s Low Country Burger, made with USDA Choice ground steak and topped with a creamy, home-made pimento cheese, sweet pickles and thick Applewood bacon, to his infamous Jazz Burger that comes topped with melted cheddar cheese, Applewood bacon and rich peanut butter, both served on a soft Brioche roll, you can’t go wrong. His burgers are so juicy and flavorful that he insists, “you don’t even need condiments.”
Each menu items oozes with flavor. Chef Del Rio uses the perfect blend of herbs and spices, special seasoning and mystery ingredients that sets his entrees apart from any other. No burger is juicer. No crust is crispier. No fish is fresher. His award-winning culinary excellence has driven this menu to a higher standard in both Keuntjes’ and Del Rio’s efforts to make Eaton’s Beach “a favorite amongst the people they serve.”
According to Chef Del Rio, “Every dish is done with a purpose.” And that promise is evident in not only the main course dishes, but in the sides, desserts and the signature sauces.
Chef Del Rio has turned common sides in to scrumptious and savory delights. His coleslaw is infused with honey, giving it a sweet twist in every bite. His barbeque shrimp appetizer is a New Orleans’s classic made using large seasoned shrimp, sautéed in tantalizing garlic, lemon butter ale sauces. Topped with freshly chopped herbs and glazed using his secret ingredient, this dish is already a patron favorite.
And no one south of New York makes Pastrami the way Chef Del Rio does, hand-rubbing his own brisket with coarse mustard and sweet brown sugar, then slow smoking it to perfection. Just one of the many menu items you won’t find anywhere else in town or maybe the state!
Keuntjes and Del Rio are excited to finally introduce this menu to the public. From novelty items such as chicken ‘n waffles or shrimp and grits to garden fresh salads and all of their many tender surf and turf items in between, Keuntjes and Co. are confident that every guest will have a positive reaction to foods they are already familiar with – now, just done better.
Guests with a sweet tooth will also leave, smiling, after indulging in one of Chef Del Rio’s signature desserts. His Sunset Orange Cake is made from 100% Florida orange juice that he hand squeezes in to each layer of fresh orange mousse and slathers with a luscious butter cream frosting. This is the local dessert that you will want to treat your out-of-town guest to.
And Eaton’s Beach hasn’t forgotten about those who like to tip back a few cold ones. Two large bars are tended by top-notch “concoctionists,” mixing and blending your favorite cocktails. So, whether you come out to watch a game or celebrate a special occasion, you’ll be able to raise a toast, deliciously.
Now open and making mouths happy, Eaton’s Beach is alive again. Families are making memories again. Friends are gathering again. Lake Weir is buzzing again. And we promise, once you’ve enjoyed Eaton’s Beach, you’ll be back again – and again.
About the Chef
Chef Del Rio began his culinary career in 1978 and instrumental in opening over 100 restaurants. Accomplishments include being Executive Chef & Director of Culinary Research and Development for Lee Roy Selmon’s and a corporate R&D chef for OSI Restaurant Partners. Awards include the Maitre du Gout, the Master of Taste distinction, awarded by Corporate Chefs of America.
If You Go:
15790 SE 134th Ave,
Weirsdale, FL 32195
Hours: Mon-Thurs 10:30am – 9:30pm
Fri-Sat 10:30am – 10:30pm,
Sun 10:30am – 9:30pm