I went over to Cocoa Beach the other day for the dedication of the renovated pier and remodeled bar at the far end, now called Rikki Tiki Tavern.
The name might remind you of the story in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book Rikki Tikki Tavi. That, of course, is the story of the titular mongoose who saves a British family from a cobra. Fun reading for kids.
But Rikki Tiki Tavern has nothing to do with that.
You might recall that the Cocoa Beach Pier was recently acquired by timeshare mogul David Siegel and his Westgate Resorts. As he and his wife, Jackie, explained to me in this video from icFlorida producer Jessica Smith, Rikki was the nickname of their daughter Victoria, who died a year and a half ago from a drug overdose. Siegel said her daughter always wanted to open a bar called Rikki Tiki Tavern. So here it is.
Still, I think they’re missing out by not having a specialty drink called the Snake Bite. Or a main course called Stuffed Goose, Mon. But that’s just me.
I know this pier — and the bar at the end of it — well. When I had a condo in Cape Canaveral, I’d walk down the beach with the pier as my destination. To get out to the end of the pier, which was mainly for people fishing, you had to pay a fee. Alternately, you could buy a drink at the bar before the pier and show your receipt to the pier’s gatekeeper.
The bar at the end of the pier — if it had an official name I never knew it — was funky and grungy. In other words, perfect. The deck around the bar was always full of people with fishing tackle and strewn with fishing line, lures, bait and the occasional fish guts. Despite signs saying it was forbidden, people would cast their lines overhead, so you occasionally had to duck.
Fishing is no longer allowed at the end of the pier. The new bar covers the entire platform, and the entire platform is covered by a thatched roof. It’s decidedly more upscale, and I’m not quite sure how I feel about that.
Food will also be available at Rikki Tiki Tavern. I’ll go back when everything is in place and report back to you.