New food boat is back serving sandbar crowd

Donations help get food boat back on the water

Donations from friends and loyal customers has brought a popular floating eatery back to Fort Lauderdale’s party-hungry boaters.

Since Jan. 21, Jay’s Sandbar Food Boat has once again been serving up oysters, alligator bites, chicken wings and more, delivering food to boats anchored in the sandbar located where the ICW and the New River meet. The area is known for its weekend social scene.

“The whole thing was the community came together,” said owner Jeremy “Jay” Lycke, who first started his operation in 2017. “They wanted me back. It was a big did deal to everybody I knew, but I just I didn’t realize just how big of a deal it was.”

Last May, a wake from a passing boat caused Jay’s stabilizer pontoon to snap, causing the craft to capsize and partly sink. In the following days boaters carted out remaining debris.

Next came a GoFundMe campaign that raised $13,000. Private donors and friends also came forward as news of Lycke’s plight circulated on social media and news outlets.

But staging a comeback was a hard sell for Lycke who was disheartened after the accident. Ultimately, he was buoyed by all the help being offered.

He said he received 1,000 phone calls from people across the country wanting to donate things, including necessities like a deep fryer, to get him back in business.

“It’s hard to stay down when people are picking you up and helping you ... trying to get you back on your feet, even though you don’t want to be,” Lycke said. Supporters told him, “We need you out there. Please, please don’t give up.”

Nonprofit groups also donated money and equipment while Lycke put up his own private money, which included selling his motorcycle and borrowing from friends.

Last July he scoured the state of Florida searching for weeks in his car for a used vessel, but not many were available.

He looked at about 30 makes and models until finding a 1971, 32-foot fiberglass trojan houseboat in Hobe Sound. It took 10 hours for him to bring it back to Fort Lauderdale along the Intracoastal.

Lycke said the boat looked a lot different then, thanks to all the improvements he’s made including installing a custom kitchen, plumbing, electricity and air conditioning. So far that’s taken $70,000 as the project is ongoing.

Weather permitting, the floating eatery is on the ICW every weekend. He’s able to operate as a mobile food service vehicle under a license that includes food trucks.

“The experience is like a theme park out there; you got the water and you got the boats,” Lycke said.