945 N. Collier Blvd., Marco
Familiar lyrics start off with “Aruba, Jamaica, ooo, I wanna take you.” You can sing along, as almost everyone knows the first verse to the famous Beach Boy’s song, “Kokomo.” But at Cocomo’s Grill in Marco Island, the essence remains, “We’ll get there fast and then take it slow.”
A Marco Island fixture since 2003, Cocomo’s Grill has a luring atmosphere with a Tommy Bahama-style. The tropical décor consists of curious monkeys perched amid bananas and coconuts, and a full-service oasis tiki-hut bar adorned with a hula girl. A coconut monkey and banquette-booths nestled in alcoves with lush plants, provide ample seating for 153 guests.
The tabletop dining area lends a perfect arrangement for rehearsal dinners, club meetings and large groups.
The restaurant success is attributed to owners Scott and Bonnie Gibbs, who in 1994 were enticed to settle here by Florida’s beaches. The couple now embrace Marco, which Scott boasts as being “a perfect place to golf and a safe community.”
Cocomo’s biggest influence comes from the couple’s frequent visits to Islamorada and the Florida Keys and its relaxed latitude-attitude. However, it is founded on Scott’s more than 20 years of diverse experience in the restaurant industry, a loyal long-term staff and family members, whose daily hands-on input keep the restaurant running. Even daughter Shayna, who is a straight A student at Charter Middle School, assists as a hostess extraordinaire.
“As an owner you have to be willing to do just about anything to keep the doors open,” explained Scott. On one occasion, Scott recalled a dishwasher who quit in the middle of an in-season dinner rush forcing him to jump in. A valuable learning experience, Scott admitted. “I have now done every duty here.”
If planning to stop in for live entertainment or to toss a coin in the fountain, change your itinerary. When asked about entertainment and remnant wishes decaying in the former fountain, Scott replied, “entertainment was trendy for awhile and isn’t what our clients come here for. The fountain was too much and we don’t have (it) anymore.”
Although live entertainment isn’t offered, Shayna’s family-friendly arcade room with a huge mascot monkey that’s “got game,” offers fun for all. You’re challenged to snag a stuffed animal or candy prize from a crane, take a virtual NASCAR ride, be a pinball wizard, a basketball pro, an Arctic Thunder or Galaga champ or even take a photo sticker home.
Cocomo’s offers souvenir shirts, visors or drink cozy’s to help you reminisce your warm island experience should you find yourself far away, dreaming of Marco while in a snowstorm.
At Cocomo’s Grill the only snow allowed is in frozen concoctions with exotic names, such as Blue Voodoo, that melts your worries away. A no-worries mind-set is very much at play here. Order a Chocolate Monkey, of course, and you’ll “be happy.”
A quaint nuance are the hard-cover journals provided to each table allowing candid feedback and reflections on just about anything “censored” that diners commit to pen and paper for all to read. Journal entries from the bar prove Cocomo’s is worthy of your visit.
Literary inspiration noted in a special beverage menu, may come from a signature libation called “The Mojo Marcorita” — a 42-ounce margarita with strawberry Schnapps splashed on top; or from an array of martinis, frozen drinks or modestly priced wines available by the glass and bottle.
Expert mixologist Jerry Parker enjoys an entourage of guests, thanks to perhaps one of the Island’s best happy hours — $2 drinks available daily from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 to 11 p.m. Sunday to Wednesday. Specials all-day, everyday, include domestic drafts at $1.99 and margaritas at $3.99.
As the slogan says “get here fast!”
Nicole Rodriguez said, “anyone can feel safe here even if you’re a single lady, man or traveling alone — you can have a good time.”
Despite a low-key pace, sports events or tracking hurricane-himicanes can be viewed from five TVs at multiple dining areas or from a flat screen at the bar, while sipping a seriously iced cold brew and enjoying the colloquial camaraderie.
The main menu presents an array of fresh daily made-to-order lunch and dinner options with an average tab of $10 to $20 per person. Children have their own menu with fun foods.
Hearty soup and sandwich combos are offered as well as several persuasive appetizers. Chefs preps range from Pan-Asian Mongolian Beef, pot stickers, Vietnamese salad roll, Tex-Mex Carnitas Egg Rolls and Salsa, Greek falafel and hummus or calamari, to Jamaican Jerk Pasta. Classic items include beef, pork, chicken as well as beef sirloin or ribeye steaks, pork chops with teriyaki, chicken marsala or smothered in aged Parmesan, spinach and roasted coulis.
Fish and seafood fans can satisfy their appetite with grouper fingers, sandwiches or entrees, promoted as “the best on the Island,” cooked any way desired. They can also enjoy shrimp scampi or coconut battered, fresh cobia grilled and tuna as a tartar or seared.
Scott proudly stated that charter captains send lucky anglers to Cocomo’s for their fish to become a family meal. Chef Luis Sotelo makes the fishing trip a tasty tale by searing fresh fillets local-style in a house-secret key lime burre blanc or franchais.
Cocomo’s praises are worth singing as People’s Choice Award winners — voted a Top 10 Restaurant, Best Burger, and Best Grouper Sandwich, with bragging rights akin to their tuna.
An “oo-aah” accolade is the Ahi tuna seared and infused with fresh wasabi, glazed in teriyaki and blended with seaweed salad over virgin olive oil crispy wontons. Bonnie advises diners that this dish should be served with fireworks. Acclaimed also is Cocomo’s sourdough bread — only a first-hand taste reveals why this is such a popular request.
As a fitting finale to dining or just a sweet treat interlude, desserts offer a wow factor with a house specialty — Fried Cheesecake A la Mode. Any attempt at describing it falls short, therefore one must order it and let the perfectly caramelized brown sugar and savory gooey center slowly melt in the mouth, while defending the last yummy bite, armed with a fork to prevent sharing even a smidgen of it. Other tasty treats include a Reese’s peanut butter pie, a malted chocolate pie, a caramel fudge pecan pie, a traditional key lime pie and ice cream.
The entire menu is available for carry out and Scott says his staff can accommodate any dining needs. If you are seeking catering for any occasion, you’re invited to rely on innovative culinary menu planning as well.
No reservations are needed yet calls are appreciated for 10 or more at 394-3600. Lunch is served 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday with dinner 4 to 11 p.m. and 4 to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
With so many tasty options served island-style go on down to Cocomo’s Grill often.