Big Ray's Fish Camp opens on Tampa Riverwalk

Big Ray’s Fish Camp, a popular South Tampa foodie destination, is now open on The Tampa Riverwalk next to the Tampa Convention Center.

The Sail, the outdoor bar undergoing renovation adjacent to Big Ray's new location, has also returned to full operation on the downtown waterfront.

The original Big Ray’s Fish Camp opened as a throwback no-frills fish shack in 2015 on Interbay Boulevard in South Tampa and quickly won over locals with its grouper sandwiches, fried shrimp, conch fritters, onion rings, and other mouth-watering menu choices.

The new location is a partnership between Big Ray’s owner and operator Nick Cruz and concessions company Aramak. Cruz The new Big Ray's Fish Camp and The Sail will open in August.says Aramak was preparing a bid to be the food and beverage provider for the Tampa Convention Center around the time that Big Ray’s won recognition in the Tampa Bay Times as one of the best restaurants in the region. The company then approached Cruz about a partnership, he says.

“It was great timing for us,” Cruz says. “We were kind of the new kid on the block at the time. We were excited to even be part of the conversation. But we are even more excited to show the city, and show people who come from all over the world to the Convention Center, what we do on a day- to -day basis.”

Unlike the old Florida fish shack atmosphere with casual dining at outdoor picnic tables at the Ballast Point location, the Riverwalk site will have more modern seating overlooking the Hillsborough River.

“The menu is going to be a mirror image, exactly what we have at the Fish Camp,” says Cruz, brother of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor's wife Ana Cruz, and son of State Rep. Janet Cruz, D-Tampa. “It’s going to be all the same fish, the same bread. The only thing that’s going to be different is I couldn’t recreate that 1960s building. So, the building is a brand new, beautiful facility. The building is gorgeous.”

Along with The Sail, Big Ray’s Fish Camp continues the downtown resurgence along the Hillsborough River that followed the completion of the Riverwalk. The improved Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, a Four Green Fields Irish pub, Ulele restaurant, and the Armature Works are just a few of the destinations along the revitalized riverfront.

To find out more about the businesses in this story follow these links: Big Ray’s Fish Camp, The Sail.

Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry is a freelance writer living in Clearwater. Chris spent more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys our local music scene, great weather and the wealth of outdoor festivals.
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