In a blue Guy Harvey long sleeve, Keith Overton faced a sea of hard hats at the Guy Harvey Outpost on Wednesday, April 9. The TradeWinds Island Resort president stood on what will become an outside bar, with a 4,500-square-foot deck and stage for live music, at the outpost’s new restaurant, the RumFish Grill & Bar.
Marine artist and conservationist Guy Harvey, as well as Wayde King and Brett Raymer of Animal Planet’s “Tanked,” a series that follows the duo’s aquarium manufacturing business, stood nearby. King and Raymer built the 33,500-gallon aquarium located in the restaurant’s main dining area.
Slated to open soon after its episode of “Tanked” airs on May 16, RumFish will be “the draw of Tampa Bay,” Overton said, calling it “a high-end dining experience.”
The restaurant will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, with seating to accommodate 310 people — 150 in the main dining room, and 160 in outdoor and indoor bar areas. Artwork by local marine artists will adorn RumFish’s walls.
An array of sustainable seafood will be featured on the ocean-themed restaurant’s menu through the Gulf Wild program, including smoked mackerel and eggs, Caribbean conch chowder, grilled swordfish and mahi mahi with lemon-thyme glaze.
Other fare includes duck confit flatbread, veggie curry and dry-rubbed rib-eye.
According to Overton, Harvey’s “conservation message resonates with people in the Tampa Bay area.”
Overton said RumFish provides diners with “real fish caught right here in our waters,” adding that there’s a huge effort to harvest lionfish, an invasive species threatening saltwater fish in Florida and other locations. RumFish plans to serve up lionfish when it can.
King and Raymer said it was important that the aquarium matched the region’s underwater environment. The pair replicated mangroves and coral reef habitats for the tank, modeling each after below-the-surface photographs they took of the Bay area.
Unsurprisingly, King and Raymer’s tank will be the dining room’s centerpiece, giving diners the opportunity to observe indigenous fish, such as tarpon, redfish, snook, grouper and more, even small sharks and Moray eels.
With permits from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Overton said RumFish has begun acquiring species for the aquarium. He mentioned how Harvey recently caught a 29-inch trout that weighed 8 pounds, which will be placed in the tank.
Overton said one-third of the tank’s fish will be purchased, and another third will come from aquariums in the community like the Florida Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Diners and non-diners, who are guests at the Guy Harvey Outpost or just visitors passing through, may view the tank from its underwater viewing area. In the viewing area’s gallery, 26 illustrations of fish species, with descriptions, will supplement the experience.
While taking in a panoramic view atop the tank, outpost guests will have access to snorkeling and a behind-the-scenes tour that highlights eco-initiatives and tank management at RumFish.
Two other 1,000-gallon tanks will be installed in different parts of the restaurant, and so will an additional stage, allowing diners to enjoy live entertainment while grubbing inside.
At least one tank plans to feature juvenile fish that will be relocated into the larger aquarium once they’ve matured.
RumFish will also house a retail store, selling “Tanked” and Harvey merchandise along with artwork, videos and more. Overton expects that 80 percent of the shop’s sales will be from T-shirts.