Sunday, November 13, 2016

Sentimental Sunday: Corpus Christi's Floating Restaurant, Then (1982-84-85) and Now (2009-2016)

Sometime before December 1980, a new restaurant opened in the Corpus Christi Marina, on a floating barge docked at the Peoples Street T-Head.  My husband and I think it might have been that very month, because Hurricane Allen inflicted huge damage on the Marina in August 1980, so the area was ripe for development.  I have a photograph of the restaurant with Christmas lights (not as sharp as the two below) taken in December 1980, and the first review in Texas Monthly shows up in January 1981 (page 28):

"First let's talk about the food, ignoring the stunning setting for a moment.  The fare you'll find here is ordinary beef and reef - a little boring.... Now, the atmosphere. Floating in the water with a view of city lights on one side and Corpus Christi Bay on the other, the boat has an absolutely mesmerizing quality.  A warning to landlubbers: the place bobs with the bay so watch those martinis and get your sea legs under you." 

Reviews didn't get any better over the next year and a half.  This one from the September 1981 Texas Monthly (page 46) was particularly harsh:

"A reasonably apt comparison can be made between this restaurant and the proverbial dumb blonde: terrific looks, fun to be around, but not much substance when you get down to basics - in this case the food.  But it doesn't make much difference; the spectacular location and proximity to the new convention center keep the decks filled with conventioneers and atmosphere-starved locals."

By June 1982 (Texas Monthly, page 43), though, "Local aficionados go elsewhere to find serious seafood."  By January 1987, Captain Boomer's closed.

Above: Captain Boomer's barge restaurant at People's Street T-head. 1982.  Kenneth L. Anthony Photographic Collection, Item 212-32. Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  Used with permission of Kenneth L. Anthony.

Below: Captain Boomers, taken circa 1985 / Jay Phagan / CC BY 2.0 

You'll note in the photo above a sailboat docked next to the restaurant.  I had to look closely to make sure it wasn't my husband's boat!  He tells a story of sailing one day with his best friend, a co-worker, and stopping there for a drink and dinner.  He also remembers going there once and the restaurant being called by his boss, the city manager, who was looking for him!

I only remember eating at Captain Boomer's once. I know my youngest sister Mary was with me, and I only remember her visiting with our mother in March 1981, so it must have been then.  I remember a guy who claimed to be a son of millionaire Sam Walton was at a nearby table, and he flirted with my sister, who was only 16 at the time.

Captain Boomer's was taken over by new management and reopened as C. C. Dockside in early 1987.  Based on a profile I found for a general manager / operating partner, it went under that name until at least January 1992.  In late 1990, the owners added a "long, narrow deck along the water" next to the barge, still moored on the leeward far side of the Peoples Street T-Head, according to a review on page 199 of the October 1990 Texas Monthly.  By August 1994, the site had become part of the Landry's Seafood chain.

Above: Aerial view of city [of Corpus Christi] looking northwest from [Corpus Christi] bay, ca. 1984. (Dated by construction of Corpus Christi Central Library building.)  Professional photograph by unidentified photographer furnished to KZTV-10 for use in advertising.  Kenneth L. Anthony Photographic Collection, Item 212-118. Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  Used with permission of Kenneth L. Anthony.  Click on the photo to enlarge it.

Below:  Detail from above photo of the Marina area, showing Captain Boomer's floating barge restaurant at the top, and the Marina office / Lighthouse restaurant at the bottom.  The large white boat to the left is the Flagship, a tour boat that operated out of the Corpus Christi marina, likely with the Gulf Clipper, another tour boat, next to it.  All are docked at the Peoples Street T-Head, the uppermost of the three Marina heads in the photo above.  The Lighthouse / Marina office was on the Lawrence Street T-Head. Kenneth L. Anthony Photographic Collection, Item 212-118 (detail). Special Collections and Archives, Mary and Jeff Bell Library, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.  Used with permission of Kenneth L. Anthony.

You can see where Captain Boomer's was located in the detail image above from about 1984.  Another restaurant had opened in the Marina by that point.  Hurricane Allen destroyed the Marina office on the Lawrence Street T-Head in August 1980.  In 1982, four local businessmen offered to construct a new building that would do double-duty as an office and a restaurant, leasing the land from the City of Corpus Christi.  The Lighthouse Restaurant opened in 1985 and closed on Halloween 2000.  It later reopened as a Joe's Crab Shack.  A new Marina Boaters Facility was completed in March 2006, separating the office from the restaurant.

The picture below shows the floating barge restaurant (now Landry's) in 2009 at approximately the same angle as the first photo in this post, from 1982.  Barely visible in the background on the left is the Harbor Bridge, which is clearly visible in the first picture.  Numerous boat slips (some of them floating) were added to the Peoples Street T-Head between 1982 and 2009.

Above:  Corpus Christi Marina [7 September 2009] / Matt Malone / CC BY-NC 2.0

Below:  Image from the map I bought when I moved to Corpus Christi in 1979.  The Marina is the green extensions into Corpus Christi Bay on the right (click on this image to enlarge it).  

When we visited Corpus Christi in June 2016, I took some photos of the Marina from the balcony of our hotel room.  In the photo below, you can see Joe's Crab Shack (the former Lighthouse restaurant) on the far upper right, at the corner of the Lawrence Street T-Head.  Almost all of the Peoples Street T-Head is visible in the photograph, with the Landry's Seafood House floating barge restaurant in the lower left quadrant of the photo.  (Click on the photo to enlarge it.)

Above:  Peoples Street T-Head, Corpus Christi (Texas) Marina, 20 June 2016.

Below:  Landry's Seafood House floating barge restaurant, Corpus Christi, Texas, 20 June 2016.

Above:  Joe's Crab Shack (the former Lighthouse Restaurant), Corpus Christi Marina, 20 June 2016.

Below:  Harrison's Landing, Corpus Christi Marina, 20 June 2016.

New in the Marina since our 2006 visit to Corpus Christi is Harrison's Landingbetween Landry's and Joe's in the Marina photo above.  It includes a restaurant that is mostly outdoors, the areas with the colored lights in the photograph above.  It's operated by the same Harrison family that ran the Lighthouse and Cooper's Alley.

© Amanda Pape - 2016 - click here to e-mail me.


  1. Howdy Amanda. Excellent recollections and research. About that time I was a regular CC visitor. Oh, the days of old.