sounds, and looks, like a place you would find nestled among the condos on the sand near the Gulf of Mexico rather than sitting on the asphalt in a strip mall on US 19.
In fact, located just north of Countryside Mall, Freaki Tiki sticks out like a giant piece of driftwood on a flat, shapeless beach.
But that’s precisely why owner Frank Theriault, otherwise known as Franki T., decided to open it there.
Feeling the area needed a dose of beach casual to balance out all the martini bars, sports bars and wing joints on the mainland, Theriault, a 20-year veteran of the business, opened Freaki Tiki three years ago with one idea in mind:
To make it “the coolest Tiki bar not on the beach.”
With excellent daily drink specials, DJs playing music seven nights a week, a casual atmosphere and an outdoor patio that’s always packed late at night, it looks like he achieved his goal.
“We had 600 people in here last night… they were all singing ‘Sweet Caroline’ on their way out the door,” Theriault says as he opened the bar Friday afternoon. “Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, this place is jamming.”
So what’s the allure of a place with warped wood bars, concrete floors, and more Key West-style slogans than you can shake a Tiki torch at?
For one thing, the drink specials are some of the cheapest around: 5 for $5 buckets of beer, ladies drink free on Tuesday nights, $1 drinks on Sunday nights and $10 all you can drink Friday nights are just a few of the unbelievably cheap deals the Tiki has to offer.
Another reason is the customer service. Theriault takes pride in his staff being friendly, courteous and attentive to his customers’ needs; perhaps that’s one of the reasons he has such a large contingent of hospitality workers who frequent the bar.
Throw in a creative bar food menu that includes fried pickle chips, pulled pork paninis, seven flatbread pizzas and jalapeno corn nuggets - plus a Friday Happy Hour special where cheeseburgers and hot dogs are free from 5:30-7:30 - and you’ve got the makings of a popular hangout for those looking for a good time at an affordable price.
“Get ‘em in cheap, and make ‘em stay late,” is one of Franki T.'s mottos.
And sing ‘Sweet Caroline’ on their way out the door.
28778 US Highway 19 N
Hours: From 3:30 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily
Phone: (727) 329-6160