Shuttered by COVID-19—and with remodeling plans pending—Linger Lodge offers colorful Old Florida ambiance.
Many factors contribute to its longevity and appeal.
The taxidermy-intensive decor rocks a menagerie of stuffed animals, including the mythical Jackalope and Alaskan Fur Fish. A huge alligator is anchored to a wall by ropes. A display case highlights dead snakes, a wild boar and other creatures. A fox perches atop a log, its face frozen in a look of perpetual concern.
The roadkill/hipster-forward menu features alligator and frog legs along with etouffée, Monterey chicken, Caribbean coconut shrimp salad and a veggie burger.
Set amidst ancient palm trees and old oak canopies, the well-spaced RV campground and quaint landing/back patio provide stunning river views.
Patrons over the age of 21 could enjoy dubiously named drinks such as “Swamp Water” and “Linger Lizard,” or choose from three types of Bloody Mary.
Pre-pandemic, “it was the place to go on weekends, with reasonable prices, live bands and good food that attracted both tourists and locals,” says Bradenton resident and frequent customer Gary Hebert.
Opened in 1945 by Florida natives Bob and Peggy Parvin, the original enterprise had a 100-acre fishing and canoeing campground with a two-story rough-hewn log cabin. It immediately was a postwar hit.
In addition to many of the same amenities found today, “modern housekeeping cottages” were available for those less inclined to sleep rough.
Some of the original structures were destroyed by fire in the late 1950s.
It wasn’t until 1968 when retired veterinarian Frank Gamsky and his wife, Elaine, moved from Wisconsin and bought the property that the taxidermy/roadkill theme came into play. That boosted the lodge’s visibility and resulted in its inclusion in travel articles and, eventually, blogs about unusual and fun things to see and do in Florida.
“Frank considers animals one of our most important natural resources and continues to promote the protection of all animals,” the lodge’s website notes.
That didn’t stop him from using the available resources for not only the stuffed critter collection, but to create a parody “Road Kill Menu—Where the Food Bites Back!”
Offerings ranged from “Chunk of Skunk” and “Baked Toad a la Mode” to “Smear of Deer” and the boundary-skirting “Flat Cat—served single or in a stack” and “German Shepherd Pie.”
The latter was part of an entire section devoted to Canine Cuisine—lending credence to keeping pets indoors and/or on a leash.
With a lunch special of “Anything Dead on Bread” and a motto of, “Our meat is so special you can still see the tire tracks,” the menu was probably best perused after eating.
The current owner, Franz Hartl from Austria, bought Linger Lodge in 2017. He kept the ambiance, but updated the menu, restaurant and campground—and “it became even more popular as a destination place,” Gary says.
Reopening has been delayed.
“It depends on permits from the county,” says Ruth Hofer, who manages the property. “As soon as we have them, we are ready to start with the major renovation of the RV Resort. We hope to able to reopen in approximately one year.”
Linger Lodge is at 7205 85th St. Ct. E., Bradenton FL 34202. For the restaurant and general inquiries, call 941-755-2757. For campground information, call 941-739-9313.