“People have to feel welcome when they walk in the door,” said Fred Sullivan (“Sully”), bar manager for both Eat Here SRQ and the Beach Bistro. Originally from the Berkshires in Western Massachusetts, Sullivan left the colder climate in his early 20s, soon after earning his degree in political science. Taking time to travel after college, he settled in New Orleans and began working for the Royal Sonesta hotel on Bourbon Street. Having worked in the hospitality industry since he was 16 years old, it was a natural choice for him.
“I love the culture, the food and the people in New Orleans,” he said. Sullivan eventually left the Royal Sonesta and found work as a waiter at Arnaud’s restaurant in the French Quarter. There, he met Sean Murphy, who would become his lifelong friend.
In the years that followed, Sean Murphy moved to Florida, opening the Beach Bistro on Anna Maria Island, followed by Eat Here AMI and Eat Here SRQ years later. Fred Sullivan remained in New Orleans and opened Michael’s Mid-City Grill, which quickly became a local favorite on Canal Street.
When Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana in 2005, Sullivan lost both his restaurant and home. Sean Murphy invited him to Florida, offering him a job as the bartender for the Beach Bistro. He’s been an integral part of both Beach Bistro and Eat Here ever since.
Whether it’s the high energy, urban crowd at Eat Here’s rooftop bar or the hometown feel of Murphy’s bar at Beach Bistro, Fred Sullivan feels that the same rules apply. Regardless, if you’re a Florida resident or an out-of-town visitor, when you step into either restaurant, for that night, you are part of a very special community.
During the day and when on vacation, you may discover Fred Sullivan running, bike riding, on the ski slopes or playing “bad golf.” But on most evenings, you’ll find him serving up cocktails at either locale. “I like working nights,” he offers. “I like restaurant people. They are ferociously independent and some of the smartest people I know. And,” Fred Sullivan concluded, “I like people.”
Submitted by: Danielle Palli