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Pass-a-Grille’s beloved Seahorse restaurant reopens

The owners still plan on retiring soon.
The Seahorse Restaurant in Pass-a-Grille, pictured here in 2013, has reopened.
The Seahorse Restaurant in Pass-a-Grille, pictured here in 2013, has reopened. [ Courtesy Jackie Hollenback ]
Published Jan. 12
Updated Jan. 14

When news broke in December that the Seahorse was closing, the beloved Pass-a-Grille institution didn’t go quietly.

Fans and regulars flocked to social media to decry the shuttering of the iconic waterfront restaurant. They called the owners to mourn. They offered to help.

The outpouring of support had a strong effect on owners Jackie and Carl Hollenback, who on Monday decided to reopen their restaurant.

“We had a really huge reaction on Facebook,” Jackie Hollenback said. “Everything turned out well and we got some help from former employees to help set up a management team.”

Except, she said, they’re not really ready for a rush of customers just yet.

“I guess they call it a soft opening,” Hollenback laughed. Really, it’s more of a “soft, soft opening,” she said. First, she has to rehire all of her staff and get everyone back up to speed.

The Seahorse first opened in 1937 and has been many different things throughout the years, including a drive-thru restaurant and a dive bar. In 1979, the Hollenbacks took over the restaurant, which became a breakfast and lunch staple for many in the area. Fans came from all over for the restaurant’s warm and welcoming worn-in charm, the great sunrise and tourist watching and the hearty omelets and grits.

In December, the Hollenbacks announced they were closing the business, possibly forever. It wasn’t just the effect of the coronavirus pandemic: The couple was closing in on a 42-year run and ready to retire. But after hearing from so many of their loyal regulars and customers, Hollenback said they decided to stay on just a little bit longer while they train a management team that will eventually take over.

The team will be composed of a group of longtime former employees, Hollenback said, so regulars don’t have to worry about the menu or the restaurant’s ambience changing much.

“It’ll stay the same,” she said.

Then, Hollenback said, she can hopefully retire.