Cheery Castaway’s bartender Lacy Lynch belongs to an exclusive club only a few islanders can claim membership in – she is a Beach Rat, meaning she grew up amidst the colorful menagerie of life that is her hometown of Fort Myers Beach. So nicknamed by ‘mainland kids’ because they seldom wore shoes and always danced to the beat of their own drummer, island kids adopted their derisive moniker and most – like Lacy – still consider it to be a badge of honor.
“My childhood was very different than most peoples’,” she told us, laughing. “It was a crazy life – I literally grew up under the pool tables at Casey’s Alley, hanging around the bar at The Cottage and The Shamrock. Those of us who grow up here – we see a lot, and we see it young. But there’s still no better place to have grown up than on the beach.”
Lynch is the daughter of another legendary local, ‘Breadman’ Lynch, and spent some of her formative years at her dad’s place on the island and some at her mother’s house in Buckingham, where she graduated from Riverdale High School.
“I started working at Castaways six years ago – right out of high school – under the former owners Megan and Steve Grish,” she told us. “My sister had worked here, so she helped get me the job.”
Though Lacy started out waiting tables, being a bartender is what comes naturally to her to she was very happy when the new owners, the Schroeder family, gave her a shot behind the bar last summer, where she’s done so well that her manager, Jackie Schroeder, nominated her to be part of our ‘Bartenders on the Beach’ series – where we introduce our readers to the smiling faces behind our island’s popular watering holes.
“I love, love, love working here!” she said. “Which is good – because I practically live here. Most of the people who come in are regulars who I’ve known half my life, and they are an extended family to me and without them I wouldn’t survive. Plus, the visitors love to see the camaraderie amongst us when they come in.”
On the day we visited last Tuesday just before noon, Lacy’s bar included a trio of men enjoying martinis, another couple eating lunch and having a beverage, another man drinking a very-tempting Bloody Mary and a couple of other folks – all who knew her and told us how much they liked her. Lynch took it all in stride, barely breaking the conversation as she whipped up drinks and laughed with her customers.
“I’d say our most popular drink here is probably either our Sex on the Beach (peach vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple and cranberry), or Castaways Punch (Captain Morgan, Malibu rum, watermelon liqueur and pineapple juice, but my favorite thing to make is a Chocolate Martini,” she told us. “We have a full liquor bar, many wines and beers both in the bottle and on tap.”
When we asked her for a funny story, Lacy stopped momentarily as many bartenders do when we ask them this question – scanning her brain for something we could print in a family newspaper.
“I guess one of the funniest things is how many people leave their dentures and hearing aids here,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy gathering them all up at the end of the night.”
As far as future plans, Lynch, who just graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Philosophy, told us she plans to return in the fall to begin studying for her Master’s.
So what does she want to be when she ‘grows up’? Something perfectly fitting for a girl who grew up on the sun-kissed sands of the Gulf of Mexico.
“I want to be a Holistic Healer,” she said.
Readers can find Lynch at Castaways every day of the week (she wasn’t kidding) except Wednesday – though she will be picking up that day soon – sometimes behind the bar and sometimes serving.
Stop by and say hello to Lacy!
Keri Hendry Weeg