The original American homesteaders started arriving in the area in the early 1800’s. Back in those days, there was one family each on Estero Island, Black Island, Mound Key and Dog Key. Due to the year round growing season and abundant marine life on which to feast, homesteaders continued to move to the area. In those days, white and brown shrimp were discovered in waters off of Sanibel and Estero Islands. Then by chance in 1950, “Pink Gold” was discovered. Legend has it that a local shrimp boat was having trouble with their nets. They pulled up the nets to work on them and the day started slipping into night. Shortly after sunset, they dropped the nets back in the water to test them. When they pulled them up, they were full of Pink Shrimp (as Pink Shrimp are nocturnal). So began the boom of the Florida Shrimp Fleet.
Since then, Florida Pink Shrimp have become famous as a culinary delicacy around the globe, with Fort Myers being one of, if not the largest shrimp ports in the world.
The building you are in now was erected in 1950 as the Island Packing Company and was one of the first modern shrimp warehouses on the island. They had an ice production system that would pump ice through long tubes out to the waiting shrimp boats on the dock. They also had another long tube that ran parallel that would “suck” shrimp off the boats like a giant vacuum. They transformed pickle sorting machines into shrimp sorting machines that would sort the shrimp by size for packing. As you enjoy our restaurant, you can see many historical pictures and maps of the island, the shrimp fleet and the Island Packing Company’s revolutionary process.
The packing facility became part of the Salty Sam’s family of business in 1999. Since then, this property has grown into a multi-venue destination with 2 restaurants (The Original Shrimp Dock Bar & Grill and its sister restaurant Parrot Key Caribbean Grill), a full service marina and two distinct cruise lines offering entertainment, sight-seeing and wildlife explorations.