Sebastian was built on an industry of commercial and recreational fishing, and we take pride in continuing that tradition.
The property the old building stands on was acquired by the city and is part of the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Forever grant program. According to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, “The creation of the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever grant program by the 2008 Florida Legislature acknowledges the importance of
the traditional seafood harvesting and agriculture industries in Florida. Grant funds will be used to acquire a parcel(s) of land directly used for the purpose of the commercial harvest of marine organisms or saltwater products by state-licensed commercial fishermen, aquaculturists, or business entities, including piers, wharves, docks, or other facilities operated to provide waterfront access to licensed commercial fishermen, aquaculturists or business entities.”
According to the Sebastian Area Historical Society, Inc., the story goes something like this: “Before it was the popular Hurricane Harbor restaurant that opened on the Sebastian waterfront in 1978, this building was the McCain Garage and auto repair shop and
served as a “front for receiving and storing contraband liquor during the Prohibition period from 1919-1933. Bob McCain’s home was directly across the street. He was the area’s most notorious bootlegger. McCain bought the garage in the mid-1920s to house his car and truck collection.
Its dock was built high enough for a boat to come underneath it without being seen from the street. Thus, it was an ideal place to bring in illegal liquor from across the Indian River after it was delivered to the ocean side of the barrier island by boats
coming from Cuba and the Bahamas. Large stacks of boxes were left on the beach by the smugglers to be transported to the mainland. Using McCain's
many vehicles the contraband goods were taken to other points across the State. After the
sheriff made numerous searches,
McCain had a secret trap door placed into a small basement area of his house. Eventually, after a raid by Federal Government agents, McCain was arrested, convicted and then imprisoned in Georgia.
Prohibition ended in 1933, and the building once again became an operating garage before its abandonment during the depression years. In the late 1960s, an addition was built on the riverside for an oyster packing plant. Storms and predators closed that operation. Afterward, it was used for storage and then a seafood market and eventually closed again.
In 1978, Carol and Doug Moss opened their Hurricane Harbor restaurant, with its kitchen in the old shucking plant. In September 1979, hurricane David crossed Sebastian with 100 mph winds. The
building’s pine beamed rafters held, but as the tin roof weakened, Moss and two other men tied themselves to lifelines and crawled to the highest part of the roof to hammer the tin on the roof back in place. The restaurant was sold and opened briefly as The Captain and the Cowboy restaurant
before it closed in 2004 following extensive damages from Frances and Jeanne. It was vacant until it became part of the 2009 Stan Mayfield Working Waterfront State Grant.