Five star reviews is what motivates Tyler Hipsley and the staff at Rick’s Reef in St. Pete Beach, “Where old world Florida meets new world taste!”
“I push my staff, and I make sure they are given a little incentive to give perfect service, I make sure my kitchen staff is giving 100 percent and food comes out perfect every time,” says Tyler, the general manager.
It seems to be working. While there are some critical reviews particularly when they first took over in 2016, as of press time they were rated 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor, 4 stars on Yelp and 4.6 stars on Facebook.
And he engages with reviewers. “I always I try to respond, as best as I can, to every comment, whether it’s positive or negative.”
Why Rick’s Reef? “For something different; we wanted something more local … more laid-back, more casual,” he responds.
“FRESH FOOD NOT FAST FOOD” jumps off a sign on the wall. “Everything is made fresh here–we don’t have microwaves; we don’t have heat lamps,” he says. What he does promise is “phenomenal burgers,” “fish tacos which are amaz- ing” and “great lobster mac & cheese.”
They have redecorated, upgraded some recipes and added other menu items for more variety. “We get a lot of great feedback.”
Getting locals in initially was a challenge and they are often surprised by the food. “One guy told me, ‘I lived here 10 years and walked by every day. I thought it was a bar and never realizer they had food.’ We have breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Tyler says, “and they are amazed at our breakfast.”
That menu includes 11 types of “Eggs Ben-Addiction” and 8 different omelettes. On the week- ends patrons may wash it down with endless mimosas or Sangria, or something from the Bloody Mary Bar with more than 20 different mixes, 20 toppings and a pick of any vodka including their own infused vodkas.
He credits Hurricane Irma for some of their local following. “We were one of the only spots open on the beach, so everybody came here… And they’ve been coming back ever since. It’s nice.”
They want to be considered family friendly too. They’ve added a number of games including Wallhooky®, giant jenga and corn toss. “I want this to be for families. We’ve got games out there and would love to have kids; it’s definitely enjoyable for everybody.” Pets are also welcome on their covered outdoor deck.
He is effervescent in his praise for the staff and says they do a great job of handling parties as large as 40 people while taking equally good care of everyone else.
“Our food is outstanding, our reviews are great, our service is great, and we’ve got some great folks back there,” he says nodding toward the kitchen. “We have a clean restaurant, and we also have a very fun staff.”
For more information go to www.ricksreefstpete- beach.com or stop by at 6712 Gulf Blvd.
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