Original owners of Blue Heron restaurant on Capri are special guests at 40th year celebration

Capri, Blue Heron,

Ann Hall
Deitrich Zimmerman, left, former owner of the Blue Heron Inn with his restaurant partner and chef Dennis Kilcoyne, right, flank current owner Alex Alexander as they arrive for the 40th-year celebration of the Blue Heron Restaurant on the Isles of Capri.

Under cloudy skies and cool breezes, a large white limo donated by Tom Moore, Isles of Capri resident and owner of Moore's Metal Roofing, pulled into the two time Zagat-award winning restaurant that overlooks beautiful Johnson Bay on the Isles of Capri.

Out stepped the two original owners of this well-known historical fine-dining establishment, along with its current owner.

The original owners, Dietrich Zimmerman and Denny Kilcoyne were guests of current owner Alex Alexander and her husband John Rogers to celebrate the restaurant's 40th year in business on Isles of Capri. The guests were greeted by a champagne reception attended by many of the locals as well as some of the tourists that have been frequenting the restaurant for many years.

Zimmerman and Kilcoyne originated and owned the Blue Heron for 18 years before selling it to Peter and Cookie Thorpe, who eventually sold it to Alex Alexander in 2002. Zimmerman, sometimes referred to as the "front man," and Kilcoyne, the "chef," brought with them more than 40 years of experience in the food service business when they opened the doors of the Blue Heron Inn as it was first called on Feb. 5, 1975.

"Most people would ask me if I could cook," said Zimmerman, laughing during a conversation at the reception. "I told them, 'I can't do what Kilcoyne does, which is cook, and he can't do what I do which is manage,'" Zimmerman said.

As the two tell their story, Kilcoyne, a Miami native, and Dietrich E. Zimmerman, born in Germany, knew and worked together for a long period of time. They worked in some of the better inns, restaurants and clubs in this country and abroad prior to opening the Blue Heron Inn on Capri. Zimmerman is so proud of Kilcoyne that he couldn't stop telling about the training and accolades Kilcoyne had earned. "Kilcoyne is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and is a member of the Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs Ltd., a most exclusive organization which is the oldest gourmet society in the world, having been founded in 1248 AD," said Zimmerman.

Kilcoyne came from a hotel restaurant family where he learned much of the trade from his grandparents who owned and operated the Opalocka Hotel in Miami for a number of years. Kilcoyne began baking at the early age of 13 and his apprenticeship chef positions found him at such spots as the Mayflower Hotel in Plymouth, Mass., Tafl Hotel in New York City, Mt. Washington Resort Hotel in New Hampshire. He was also in charge of food service at the Downingtown Inn in Downington, Pa., which is where Kilcoyne and Zimmerman met.

Zimmerman was born in Germany. He had extensive food service experience in European hotels and restaurants, including Switzerland, Germany and Paris, and France. Zimmerman's ability to speak four languages greatly assisted him in the food service business. He came to the United States after serving in the Armed Forces to work as an assistant restaurant manager at the Downingtown Inn in Downingtown, Pa. The meeting of the two food service entrepreneurs at this point led to their opening of their restaurant, which became known for offering some of the finest food available anywhere.

The tradition of offering the best has continued with the current owner Alex Alexander. Alex, owner of the restaurant for 13 years, adds her individual flair derived from years of 5-star restaurant management in New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas. She also owned and managed a restaurant in Virginia Beach, Alexander's on the Bay, one of the most popular restaurants in the area.

Alex has added a beautiful new deck, landscaping and boat slips to the Blue Heron. The new slips can accommodate boats up to 70' with electric service available for an overnight stay. Alex is proud that the same chef and staff continue to serve The Blue Heron patrons, and every menu selection is prepared to order. Special attention is given to preparing meals obliging those with food allergies or for those on vegetarian or gluten-free diets.

The Blue Heron owners and staff are proud of their heritage of 40 years and look forward to a long and bright future. This fine dining experience is a culinary jewel located at the water's edge on the Isles of Capri known for its sunsets, Old Florida comfortable atmosphere, and superb service.

The Blue Heron is open Monday through Saturday with the traditional 5-course inclusive dinner menu served from 5 pm nightly until July 31. The restaurant reopens the third week in September, when a Light Fare three course menu is available from 5 to 7 pm until Oct. 31. Call 239-394-6248 for reservations. The Blue Heron is located at 387 Capri Blvd. on the Isles of Capri.

Contact Ann Hall at ahall7911@comcast.net