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Scomburgers in Paradise
   Classic rock and sippin' Mimosas on the Florida beach

By Marcus A. Nevacoff

The hamburger joint on the beach has become as elusive and rare as beach-blanket movies-gone the way of beehive hairdos, polka-dot bikinis and Marlboros rolled up in the sleeves of guys' T-shirts.

    But the Beachcomber endures, at the end of A Street on Florida's St. Augustine Beach-gently reminding us what the beach is for: watching the sun rise out of the sea to glisten gold and red upon a becalmed ocean, at breakfast time; its peace undisturbed but for squadrons of pelicans performing their aerial choreography over Anastasia Island.

    This is a place where a beach walker can find that morning cup of coffee while pondering his position in the cosmos. Or a table from which to watch the natural kaleidoscope of waves and changing light, proclaiming the new day.

    A place with stools inside for the regulars, and a television over the bar-switching between the sports and stock-market reports-where by your third visit, the staff really does know your name.

    Classic rock & roll plays softly in the background .

    The bill of fare is what one would expect of such an establishment, but with a twist that is the Beachcomber's own: Gator tail and oysters by the mound, to shuck and wash down with beer; curried coconut shrimp with guava barbecue sauce; (my favorite); and Mexican Lasagna, to name a few.

    It is a place to find friends, among the staff as well as the customers.

    During the two weeks each winter when it closes down you will find the regulars wandering aimlessly up and down the beach in the morning, wistfully eyeing the closed doors.

    It's one of those rare places where prospective Hemingways still come to dream of Great American Novels yet to be written. To sit and read the newest attempt to capture that title. To study the human condition or pen a short story.

    A place for honeymooners to plan the rest of their lives sitting at those salt- and sun-bleached tables. A place for couples who may have honeymooned here many years ago, back now that the kids are grown and on their own.

    It is a place to grab a beer after working on a roof in the blazing sun all day. A place to catch the latest in beachwear fashions. A place to feel the ebb and flow of life around you.

    Like neighborhood taverns elsewhere, it is also the bastion of the working-class hero.

    An idiosyncratic stop on the tour of the Oldest City in America; a place where the vagaries of politics are not worth a damn; a paradigm from a simpler and perhaps better time: This is the Beachcomber.

    Can I get fries and a Mimosa with that Schomburger? And, oh yeah! A basket of tail!
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