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"Rodbenders Raw Bar & Grill a Local Favorite"

Last updated 5 years ago

In case you missed it, Charlie Hudson wrote an article for the South Dade News Leader featuring Rodbenders. We're reposting it, thanks to the paper:

I passed Rodbenders one day when I was in Cutler Bay and was struck by the name, but I was in a hurry and didn’t stop in. When I heard they had been voted as Community Bank’s 2012 Outstanding Local Business, it gave me a good reason to make the drive up. For those who are old enough to recall, stepping into Rodbenders is likely to take you back to the time before there were franchise restaurants with their standard décor. Everything about the place speaks to a family-owned, locals’ establishment with the flavor of Old Florida and a love of sports fishing as the name implies. Rods and reels, photographs displaying trophy fish, nautical-inspired furniture, mounted game fish, and the trio of aquariums leave no doubt as to what you’ll find on the menu.


“We cook everything to order,” Kathy Kappes McMillian assured me. “We always have dolphin (mahi) and snapper, but other fish specials depend on what we get.”

Conch, frog legs, oysters, and lobster are additional favorites and wings may not be seafood, but they are most definitely popular whether grilled, fried, or honey-blackened. I have to admit that coconut grouper bites and tuna nachos caught my attention, too. There is a lineup of hot and cold subs as well as burgers and fish sandwiches and the mound of sweet potato fries in a basket that went past me looked good.

“We love this place. Barbara (the bartender), is a jewel,” one couple called out to me when they found out why I was there. Another gentleman said, “There are a lot of loyal customers because of the atmosphere and food. It’s a great place to come to.”

It would appear that many of the customers agree with the, “One Bite, You’re Hooked” inscription on the tee shirts that the waitresses wear. McMillian, who worked as a bartender for 11 years when the restaurant was Joan’s Galley, acknowledges that customers and the staff seem like extended family. “I mean, I’m here more than I’m at home,” she says with a smile. Her daughter, Candis, is usually working alongside her, but she’s taken some time off to be with her infant daughter; McMillan’s third grandchild. McMillan, a native of Miami, is no stranger to the maritime environment. Her father, John Kappes, is a retired marine biology teacher and his recent non-fiction book, The Florida Spiny Lobster, is a popular seller.

“I was really surprised when we were nominated for the Community Bank award,” McMillan said. “It never occurred to me that we would win being up here where not everyone knows about us.”

McMillan credits her boyfriend, Bruce Preshong, her parents, staff, and customers with making Rodbenders a success, but as I watched people beginning to flow in for a Friday evening, I suspect they would happily give a great deal of credit to McMillan as well.

This also happens to be the season for the annual Dolphin Tournament they sponsor; another sports fishing aspect of Rodbenders. This year it will be held Saturday, June 23, 2012, with $4,000 worth of prize money available. “It’s something that Joan started and I’ve kept up,” McMillan explained. “Everyone has a good time.”

To sample their food or just to drop by for a cold beverage, you can check them out at 20400 Old Cutler Road in Cutler Bay, Telephone (305) 253-9360.

Image by Charlie Hudson


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