Hammerheads Begins Dockside Delivery

Courtesy of Hammerheads Dockside

The restaurant at Indian River Marina began delivering to slips in early June.

After a long day on the water, one of the last things on the pleasure boater’s agenda is cooking. But where slip holders at Indian River Marina could, under normal circumstances, count on a visit to Hammerheads Dockside to solve that problem, the COVID-19 pandemic eliminated that option.

Once stay-at-home orders were announced in March, all First State restaurants shut down their dine in operations and pivoted to a delivery/curbside pick up model. And with the summer boating season now in full swing, the respected bayside restaurant and bar did the same by offering take-out for pick up from the restaurant itself. However, the weekend of June 4, Hammerheads Dockside took a surprise step and launched dockside delivery to Indian River Marina slip holders.

The change has made quite a splash.

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As soon as the announcement of dockside delivery went live on Instagram and other social media platforms on June 5, “the phone was ringing off the hook all weekend,” says Erin Bendler, social media manager and bartender at Hammerheads Dockside (she’s also the wife of co-owner George Bendler).

Courtesy of Hammerheads Dockside

“It was a really big hit. People really enjoyed it, and their biggest question was, ‘Will it continue?’” says bartender and server Ellie Lord, who was making the dockside deliveries during the first weekend of delivery. “All the locals really enjoyed it and they’ve been asking for it for years, so they were really willing to do just about anything to make sure it continues for the rest of the summer and next year, as well.”

Customers can order from Hammerheads’ abbreviated to-go menu, which includes 11 styles of wings, classic and embellished tater tots, seafood, soups, salads, sandwiches and burgers. Also available for delivery are wine by the bottle, beer by the can and individual servings and half-gallon jugs of Hammerheads’ signature cocktails. Thursday through Sunday deliveries begin June 11, running from noon to 8 p.m.

Bendler says she gives credit to her husband, George, for initiating the new delivery service as both a convenience for slip holders and a way to minimize crowding and maintain social distancing at the restaurant itself. “We want to start this opening process with just take out to give us time to rehire our staff and figure out operational logistics,” she says. “This is kind of a no-brainer. We actually created a new position to just handle the boat deliveries now. We plan on keeping it as long as we can continue the alcohol to go and as long as the kitchen can handle the extra capacity.”

Courtesy of Hammerheads Dockside

“We wanted to provide the boaters with an opportunity to enjoy Dockside while dockside,” George says.

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Considering wait times for sit-down dining can average two hours on normal summer weekends, giving customers an expanded delivery option—plus a dedicated server to take orders and make deliveries—is a significant added convenience for those who want to dine from Hammerheads’ menu but not hang out at the restaurant. Lord estimates that 60 percent of her deliveries over the opening weekend—made on foot (the farthest slip is about a half-mile from the restaurant)—were to people she’d never seen in four years of working at Hammerheads.

And while having food delivered to your boat so you can focus on buttoning up from the day’s voyage or preparing for another is a plus, there’s no underestimating the value of having a half-gallon of orange crush dropped off boat side. Fortunately, both Lord and Bendler say, the customers are so far enjoying the beer, wine and cocktail service responsibly.

“We’d like to see it continue,” Bendler says. “It would be a game-changer.”

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