New generation shakes it up at Duffy's
Pat Geyer's campaign manager, Bill
Warren, celebrates a victory with her.
Pat was a mayor and commissioner.
HOLMES BEACH – A couple of years ago, if you went into Duffy's Tavern in Holmes Beach and ordered anything but a burger, a dog or some bean soup or chili, you would have been greeted with the famous raised eyebrow.
But in the last two years, things have changed, and Duffy's, which celebrated 40 years of operation by the Geyer family this year, is moving into a new era under the guidance of the daughters of the late Pat and Ed Geyer – Peggi Davenport and Polli Stroup, and Peggi's husband, Bruce Davenport.
"Mom took over the business in July 1, 1971," Peggi said, and as Pat had recalled in a 2002 interview, she and Ed "wanted to give their daughters, Peggi, Polli, Penni, Pam and Patti something to do to keep them out of trouble."
They operated the restaurant in a rustic building across from the Manatee County Public Beach for 31 years until the owners decided to take back the property. Undeterred, they found a location at 5808 Marina Drive in Holmes Beach and opened their new Duffy's Tavern there on March 5, 2003.
"Everything was the same, but in a new building," Polli said.
"We were trying to continue to put out good burgers and keep it the same," Peggi added.
But it was a couple of years ago that things got more interesting.
"Bruce got laid off at Tropicana and started helping out here," Peggi explained. "We had offered some specials, but Bruce took it to a new level.
"He always liked cooking at home and watching Food Network, so he started introducing a lot of new specials. It's been a really good thing for Duffy's."
"I started doing the pulled pork two years ago to have something different on the weekends, and it snowballed into this," Bruce added.
Bruce's specialties include pulled pork, beef brisket and pastrami sandwiches, a variety of burger options and his famous soups such as smoked portabella mushroom soup and stone crab bisque. He has also added sides such as cole slaw and potato salad.
Two of his burger options – the crumbled blue cheese burger and the fresh jalapeno and havarti burger have been added to the regular menu, and the mushroom Swiss and Tex burgers will be next for permanent status.
"I got my culinary degree from the Food Network," Bruce said with a laugh. "I go online, find recipes, tweak them and put my signature on them.
"I like to keep things simple so you know what you're eating. The pork is the most popular, but the pastrami is coming on strong. Everything is homemade."
Polli said people now call to find out what the specials will be that day, and Peggi noted, "People are loving the specials. They like having something different, but there are still some who can't get past their traditional burger fix."
The one menu item you won't find at Duffy's is French fries, but Bruce admitted, "I'm trying to get them so we can turn the corner and get wings."