What do you do when the traveling circus comes to town? You go and watch them perform, of course. But then you jump on their train, head southbound, and end up in Sarasota, Florida. That’s what Swedish immigrant Claus Wallin did when he grew tired of Midwest farm life (see ya, Indiana)...
Then, he fell in love. With both the fishing village and Irene Gallagher. They got married. Claus's brother in law, who fished for a living, taught Claus about the best spots and how to fish. Claus passed down all of his knowledge to his son, Walter. Then came World War II.
Walt fought in the war, and eventually moved back to Indiana to work on the railroads until his mid-50s, but he couldn’t get his mind off the town of Sarasota. He returned and got right to work, opening up Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant. After he passed away, his son, Tom, took over. Tom would venture out early in the mornings, wet some lines, and catch some hogs. Then, he’d bring them back and cook ‘em on up. Walt’s Fish Market became popular for its fried fish sandwiches.
Over time, the establishment—now a staple of Sarasota—has been passed down through the family. And it’s no longer called just Walt’s Fish Market and Restaurant. Its newest owner, Brett Wallin, made a little renovation. Now, it’s called Walt’s Fish Market, Restaurant, and Tiki Bar (what better way to honor your family legacy than to add a tiki bar?).
Brett still goes fishing in the mornings to catch the food that will be sold and served that very day. If you’re ever in town, consider giving it a visit (but get there early for a table—it’s always packed). And if you’ve ever dreamed about opening a restaurant or fish market of your own, consider pulling a Claus and dialing up Circus Ole.
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