In the Know: What happened to Randy at Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant?

TIM ATEN
Randy Essig in 2005 with his famous key lime pie. Daily News file

Randy Essig in 2005 with his famous key lime pie. Daily News file

Q: I'm a longtime fan of Randy’s Fishmarket on U.S. 41 at 104th Street. I've always enjoyed his friendly hello and care for his customers. On the last couple of visits, there's been no Randy. I've asked a few times "Where's Randy?" and the responses are always vague and evasive. It seems the "landlord" has taken over? I was there last week and the key lime pie was different. The waitress said they were now adding gelatin. Can you find out what happened?

— Nancee, Naples and Chicago

Q: What is going on at Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant?

— Paul, Naples

A: A decade after creating his popular local restaurant, seafood market and key lime pie brand, Randy Essig’s namesake locations in North Naples and Bonita Springs will carry on with his name, but without him at the helm.

“Randy is no longer with us. He sort of retired,” said Lloyd Bowein, a Naples real estate broker and licensed attorney who has co-owned the company with Essig and owns the business property.

Bowein, who said he has always been the landlord for the local properties, is now sole owner of Randy’s Fishmarket Restaurant in North Naples and Randy’s Paradise Shrimp Co. in Bonita, as of the end of March. But, he is not new to the local business.

“I’ve been here since Day 1. I did the initial purchase,” Bowein said. “I’ve been in all aspects of the business. I’ve always been hands on. I live around the corner and am here every day.”

Although Essig did not return telephone calls or email messages for reaction this past week, he called a colleague earlier this month to report that he was out of the company he began in September 2003 because of a loophole in the contract. Essig, 65, said he plans to remain in this area and the local restaurant business.

Meanwhile, Bowein said it will be business as usual at Randy’s restaurant and seafood market.

“Nothing is going to change, the quality of the food, the fish market,” he said. “Everything will be the same. The quality will be the same and everything. If anything, it’s going to get better.”

The famous key lime pie at Randy's Fishmarket Restaurant. Daily News file

The famous key lime pie at Randy's Fishmarket Restaurant. Daily News file

When specifically asked about possible changes to Randy’s key lime pie, Bowein said the formula has always been tweaked for better taste, better consistency or better appearance, but that the ingredients have been the same for two or three years. He said one of the suppliers to the Bonita manufacturing plant changed one of the ingredients about six months ago.

“Sometimes adjustments are made for consistency reasons,” he said. “Randy’s departure had no effect on how the pies were made.”

The popular pie’s simple recipe lists only Randy’s key lime pie juice, sweetened condensed milk, non-dairy whipped topping and a graham cracker pie crust. Randy’s key lime pie is so well known that it has become synonymous with Florida’s official dessert. This famous pie has its own Facebook page and had its own segment on QVC home shopping network.

■ KNOW MORE: When is The Local restaurant planning to open in Naples? CLICK HERE for the answer and the latest local dining news.

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Have a local question? Email it with your name and city of residence to intheknow@naplesnews.com.

"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.

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