Skinny's celebrates 10 years
Louise Bolger | Sun
From left, Clark Freeman, Janice "Grandma" Freeman and
Jan Freeman in front of their classic restaurant.
One of the reasons everyone loves the beach is its timeless quality changing daily, but never really changing. Just steps from one of Anna Maria’s classic beaches is another classic, Skinny’s Place in a building which looks exactly the same as the day it was built in 1952.
It’s unlikely when Janice Freeman honeymooned on Anna Maria Island in 1936 she would have believed that she would still be here at age 95, or would she? The couple's love of the Island was so strong that they arranged their lives around it, splitting their time between two restaurants, one in Holmes Beach and one in Illinois.
The Mid-Island Drive In was built in 1952 and served as the Freeman’s business and home for many years, until their decision to lease out the property when staying all winter conflicted with their other business and children’s commitments. However, when it came time to retire, this is where Janice and Skinny Freeman returned, bringing with them their daughter and three grandchildren.
Ten years ago, after Skinny Freeman’s death, the Freeman family decided it was time to honor Janice and Skinny Freeman’s dream of reopening a restaurant in their original location and established Skinny’s Place. Today one of their grandchildren, Clark Freeman, runs the restaurant with his mother Jan, their great staff and the support of his sisters and extended California family.
Skinny’s Place hasn’t changed much since Skinny Freeman’s original Mid-Island Drive In opened its doors; it still has an open air beach vibe, outside tables, picnic benches and the ever present smell of the surf and sand. Old Florida, laid-back, toes in the sand whatever name you give it; Skinny’s is one of a kind on Anna Maria.
The menu hasn’t changed much either, with burgers called Skinny’s and Mid-Island Pounder and chili called Grandma’s Homemade. There are also chili cogs, corn dogs, chicken pieces, fries, onion rings and a kids’ menu, but Skinny’s is really all about the burgers. Beer and wine is available as well as soda, lemonade and other beverages. You can grab a table or eat at the bar where you will place your order, and bring cash no credit cards accepted.
To celebrate their 10 years as Skinny’s Place there will be a party on Dec. 22 in Skinny’s parking lot with a tent and music starting at 11 a.m. and running to 9 p.m. There will be prizes given away and you can get a burger outside. Bring along a chair if you’re staying for the music.
The Freemans’ goal is to keep Skinny’s the way it was originally when the original Skinny fell in love with it. Clark Freeman says his grandmother still likes to tell stories about the early days on Anna Maria when this little piece of paradise didn’t have much to offer except the sun, surf and timeless burgers.
We’re comfortable with the familiar and are drawn to classics that represent a certain place in time. Skinny’s Place is the quintessential Florida beach pub and for those of us who want to slow things down a little, it’s simply classic.
Across from the Manatee Public Beach
3901 Gulf Drive
Tuesday through Sunday
11a.m. to 8 p.m.