Salvaging wood in Fiddler's Green.
Fiddler's Green in its heyday.
VILANO BEACH, Fla. -- The old Fiddler's Green restaurant is being torn apart from the inside out.
Ricky Frazier is part of the demolition and salvage crew, contracted by St. Johns County.
He has a connection to the place that the rest of the crew does not have.
"Oh yeah, we ate here as kids," Frazier smiled. "I used to come here on dates in high school."
Frazier graduated from St. Augustine High School in 2003.
During a break, he walked around the shell of a building, reminiscing.
"This is the original wallpaper," he said as he pointed to a colorful floral wall covering. "These are the original doors still at Fiddler's Green, and there's the old kitchen."
Nothing is left but the kitchen sink.
"It was awesome. Good food!," said Frazier.
Fiddler's Green, built in the 1980's, welcomed guests to a view of Vilano Beach.
"This was the place to go for the older kids when I was in school," he told a colleague. "And then when I was old enough and cool enough to come, we'd come!"
Meanwhile, just across the bridge in St. Augustine, Nancy Gardner remembers working at Fiddler's Green. She pulled photos and memorabilia from a giant envelope.
"This was our original menu. Oh my gosh, look how cheap things were! New York strip was $13.95. I think it's 20.95 now," she said.
She continues to work for the former Fiddler's Green owners, who still have Saltwater Cowboys and Creekside Dinery in St. Augustine.
Former owner Scott Singleton said around 2006, he and his partners planned to sell Fiddler's Green and its beachfront property to developers because the land was worth more as condominiums than a restaurant.
But then St. Johns County and the state offered about the same amount of money, $5.5 million for it, and Singleton said they were thrilled to sell it to the county.
It was going to be a community center, but the economy tanked, the county struggled with a smaller budget, and the restaurant building sat empty and it deteriorated.
Now the county is demolishing it, because Wil Smith with St. Johns County's Park and Recreation Department said it's not cost effective to renovate the building.
However, the county wants to salvage valuable and meaningful items inside.
And that's what Frazier and the company he works for is doing.
The contractor confirms that St. Johns County has asked to salvage the bar top full of coastal themed tiles, the wooded beams in the ceiling, and the cypress wood throughout the lounge.
"Cypress is a specialty wood," contractor Randal DeZiel explained. "I'm surprised this place contains as much as it does."
Frazier admits this project is "a little" sad, but he's glad to salvage the valuable materials and all those memories, one last time.
"It's unique to come back and demo it," he nodded. "And to be able to take away what was here for so long."
First Coast News