Mother's Day 2022 is a day chef Jay Lycke will never forget. May 8 began like any other Sunday aboard Jay's Sandbar Food Boat, the modest floating eatery he owns and operates on Fort Lauderdale's New River.
And then a sudden fluky encounter sank his livelihood.
As a novice boater zoomed past, the starboard pontoon on Lycke's boat gave way. An hour later, the craft had completely capsized. Fortunately, Lycke, hostess Coulette Murray, and another chef onboard escaped unharmed.
But the business he’d built for the past four years — known for its fresh gator bites, wings, and Hong Kong-inspired pork – was gone.
Within four days, the shipwreck site was salvaged at a cost of $8,000. And now, two weeks after that fateful Sunday, he and many of his loyal patrons and neighbors are counting the days to a rebuild.
“The community has been absolutely outstanding through all this,” Lycke tells New Times
. “Even the town [of Fort Lauderdale] has been outstanding. They fought us tooth and nail when we opened. They didn’t want to grant me a license and gave us a lot of hell wherever we parked after opening. But, through this shipwreck, they’ve bent over backward to help me. It really is a small town, and everyone has been incredible.”
When Lycke bought his food boat, it was a relatively affordable investment. Now, the chef says, a new boat will run him about $125,000. To augment Lycke's savings, Murray, the hostess, started an online fundraising effort to raise $85,000
. As of May 24, the fundraiser had generated about $11,500.
“I am so grateful for $5 or anything we can get from anyone,” Lycke says. “We’re very much a family business and we provide a magical experience out there. It’s my passion that pulls it forward. It’s not just a food boat, but it’s a dinner party during the day for 200 boats and friends.”
Lycke hopes to raise the remainder of the necessary funds for a new boat and, ultimately, to open a brick-and-mortar location.
“I’m hoping to be back as soon as possible,” he says. “This is all an obsession of love. I love cooking for my friends.”
Jay’s Sandbar Food Boat. jayssandbarfoodboat.com. Donations for rebuilding efforts may be made via gofundme.com.