Labor shortage causes temporary closure of The Fat Snook in Cocoa Beach

Owners hope to reopen in July

A sign hanging in the window of The Fat Snook in Cocoa Beach
A sign hanging in the window of The Fat Snook in Cocoa Beach (MALCOM DENMARK/FLORIDA TODAY)

COCOA BEACH, Fla. – When Marc Claycomb of Indian Harbour Beach dined at Crush XI in downtown Melbourne on Tuesday, he was surprised to see his server wearing an apron from The Fat Snook in Cocoa Beach.

A few weeks ago, Mona and John Foy, owners of both restaurants decided to temporarily close the award-winning beachside restaurant because of staffing issues, according to News 6 partners Florida Today. Workers from The Fat Snook have been transferred to Crush XI to bolster that staff.

“We have literally spent thousands on Indeed ads, to no avail,” Mona Foy said. “So, we have tried once again to turn lemons into lemonade and do some updating in our kitchen while we have this opportunity.”

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They hope to reopen in July.

The Foys pay dishwashers $13-$15 an hour, and line cooks make $15-$17 an hour. Pay for servers varies. Florida’s minimum wage is $8.65, and will rise to $10 on Sept. 30.

Foy said she is not offering signing bonuses or other incentives because new hires aren’t staying long enough to collect them.

“We’re trying to create an environment that is a positive environment, a teaching and learning environment,” she said. “We try to be flexible with days off, flexible with schedules. Try to be entice them and reward them in that way.”

A sign on the door of the Cocoa Beach restaurant dated May 16 reads:

“Due to the unprecedented labor shortage, we will be closed until further notice.

Thank you to the staff that has stayed with us, we appreciate you.

Please visit us at our sister restaurant:

Crush XI, 923 East New Haven Ave. in downtown Melbourne. 321-312-6067″

Sign on the door of The Fat Snook

Both restaurants are busier than they’ve been since they opened, Foy said.

“The business is here,” she said. “People are ready to go out. They’re ready to spend money. They’re ready to celebrate.”

But she doesn’t have the staff to handle all the reservations.

Staffs at both restaurants are exhausted, Foy said.

“These guys are doing the best that they can to keep up,” she said, “but you can only do so much.”

The Foys opened The Fat Snook in 2007 in a small space on State Road A1A in north Cocoa Beach. In 2016, they bought a 1930s bungalow in downtown Cocoa Beach that once housed the Mango Tree, with plans to give The Fat Snook a bigger home.

After attempting to renovate the building, they eventually razed it with plans to rebuild a similar structure but with modern electricity and plumbing. After struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, the Foys decided to sell the Mango Tree property and concentrate on their restaurant’s existing location.

They’ve added outdoor seating and now plan to update the kitchen.

The restaurant has earned a reputation for inventive seafood dishes and counts astronaut Buzz Aldrin among its fans. In 2020, the restaurant earned its third Golden Spoon from Florida Trend magazine, a statewide awards program started by the magazine more than 50 years ago as a guide for executives traveling around the state.

Foy said by July, she hopes to have a staff in place that’s ready to be creative and inspired by the food they’re making and serving.

“Our customers, the support that they give us has been incredible,” she said. “It gives me even more drive to make sure that we figure this out and that we find a group of people that are ready to work and develop a career, not just bounce around from restaurant to restaurant.”