But this isn't the end for the beloved Broward watering hole: After the restaurant shutters on Sunday, April 21, it will move to a new space at 1035 SE 17th St.in Fort Lauderdale. Paul Flanigan — founder of the locally-based Old School Hospitality — says he tried to buy the Quarterdeck building but was not able to make the purchase. Instead, he bought the new location just over two years ago in preparation for the move.
Quarterdeck first appeared on the scene with the opening of the Big Daddy's Liquor Store and Lounge on Cordova Road in October 1966. The lounge was nicknamed the Quarterdeck, which stuck through Flanigan's purchase of the establishment in 1986. He opened a second location on Fort Lauderdale Beach in 1995 and later partnered with Frank Zaffere to open six additional Quarterdeck restaurants in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties from 1997 through 2004.
Flanigan says he has mixed emotions on the move. "I took over the business in 1985 and kept trying to buy the building, and over the years it's just become more and more run down. The sad part is the history, but we've made every effort to pay homage to the old location, bringing over the photos, wall decor, even the original booths. When you walk into the new Quarterdeck it still has the same look and
Some of the biggest changes: the new 4,000-square-foot space will offer a new happy hour, lower price points for a number of dishes, and a few new menu additions.
Despite its long history on Cordova Road, Flanigan says he isn't upset. Instead, he encourages everyone to party like it's 1966. A weekend-long farewell party begins on Friday, April 19. The parking lot will transform into a celebratory space for cornhole, beer pong, Jenga, and other games. Several DJs will make an appearance over the three-day affair, including Lucian White, DJ WellFed Boy, and Marcus Amaya.
It's worth a stop by the original location before it's gone for good. The establishment has become a landmark of sorts and houses dozens of years of memories. Many had their first dates, anniversaries, birthdays, and special occasion dinners at the Cordova Road location. Others may remember the disco ball, DJ booth, dance floor, and the fire truck — all the unique things that made this restaurant so memorable.
"I can't tell you how many people have told me that they met their spouse at the Quarterdeck or that we have sponsored their class reunions," says Flanigan. "Fifty years is a long time. We now hire some high school students whose parents worked the Quarterdeck when they were young. Now it's time to make new memories."
Quarterdeck Closing Celebration. Friday, April 19, through Sunday, April 21, at 541 Cordova Rd., Fort Lauderdale; 954-524-6163; quarterdeckrestaurants.com.