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Cracker Box celebrates 50 years in operation with party Saturday

January 17, 2012
Melissa Schneider - Editor ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Our fabulous little community has several historic hot spots and destinations that has been established for decades. One of those little gems is celebrating its golden anniversary this weekend, going on 50 years in operation. The Cracker Box Restaurant, 16910 McGregor Boulevard, has been family-owned and operated by the Welker family for the last 38 years, never sitting vacant and always the place to have a grand 'ol time.

Celebrating its half-century-old birthday, the Welker family is proud to host an all-day Old-Hollywood-themed party, complete with all the glitz and glam, Saturday, Jan. 21, from noon to midnight.

"We are so proud to be celebrating the Cracker Box being open for 50 years," said Jody Jones, manager of the Cracker Box and daughter of owners Jim and Judy Welker. "We are going all-out to celebrate Jan. 21, with an Old-Hollywood inside/outside party. We're going to have three to four bands playing throughout the day and evening, we'll be smoking and grilling pork and chicken, homemade chowder, horseshoes, an inside/outside bar, plenty of games and so much more maybe even some fried green tomatoes and special appetizers!"

Article Photos

The Cracker Box is proud to celebrate 50 years in operation with an Old-Hollywood-styled theme party Saturday, Jan. 21, from noon to midnight. Above, the Welker family. Restaurant owner Judy Welker (center) and daughter Jody Jones have run the business for nearly 40 years. Photo by MELISSA SCHNEIDER

Keeping with the classic, Old Hollywood feel, guests of the party will enjoy paparazzi flashing around the party all night, capturing all of the fun and excitement of the day, with the photos later uploaded to the Cracker Box Facebook page.

Photos of glam stars like Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Gene Kelly will deck the place out, along with other big-bang classic celebrities.

Plenty of games will keep party-goers entertained for hours at a time, from tossing horseshoes to the decks of cards at each of the tables try your hand at some pinochle or rummy or really get your hands dirty with some blackjack or Texas hold 'em poker!

Fact Box

The Cracker Box's

50th anniversary party

Sunday, Jan. 21, from noon to midnight

Where: 16910 McGregor Blvd., near FMB

What: All-day Old-Hollywood celebration with plenty of live music, fresh homemade food, games, and even paparazzi snapping pics!

Enjoy live music from the Jesse Allen Band, Slow Deal, and, of course, Jim Welker and the Cracker Box Band. There is no charge to attend the party, and dress code is casual (but feel free to dress up like Old Hollywood if you'd like).

"Come on down, enjoy our all-day party, celebrate with us, and play some games with me!" Jody said.

About the Cracker Box

"This is our 38th year since my parents have bought the place (1975), but the restaurant itself is 50 years old (1962)," Jody said. "We never changed the name, and the place only had three owners. The second only had the place for six months, and she was married to one of Collier's sons (as in the founder of Collier County). We believe this is the last piece of the Collier property from this area."

The restaurant specializes in fresh seafood and homemade recipes.

"What we're known for is our crab cakes," Jody said. "People go absolutely crazy over our crab cakes. And the next thing is our catfish, but we also carry grouper and plenty of shrimp."

The Cracker Box often offers house specials, which is another hot commodity regulars are "crazy over." And, "they love my coleslaw and tartar sauce. We make everything from scratch: our own blue cheese, crab cakes, you name it."

The restaurant is equipped with beer, wine and wine-based liquor, and live music reigns six nights a week (for every day the establishment is open). Hear the likes of some great local bands, including the restaurant's very own Jim Welker and the Cracker Box Band.

Hours are Monday to Friday for lunch, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and Monday to Saturday for dinner, from 5 p.m. to close.

Our motto is, "If you don't have fun, it's not our fault," Jody joked. But, as she concluded, "We have so much fun with our customers, that's why they come back time, after time, after time again. They don't just come for dinner. They come, they have dinner, they have some coffee, they sit back and listen to the band (or join in). They come for a true experience, and we're thankful for every one of them."

The restaurant has tons of other fun events coming up, too, including a 75th birthday party for Jim in February and an "Iona Social Meet Your Neighbor Cook-Off" in May. Stay tuned for further details.

Be sure to find this little historic gem on Facebook or visit its own website:

Restaurant/2. Or, for more information on the Cracker Box, call 466-4344.



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