Located in an 1868 former sea captain’s house,
Sailor Jack’s has one of the best al fresco dining spots in all of Benicia. Situated at the end of First Street, on the Carquinez Strait, the restaurant faces west, offering unparalleled bay views. Sunsets are especially spectacular. For years, customers enjoyed mostly indoor dining and drinking, with limited patio seating and the casual, cozy, and well stocked nautical bar area with its 360 degree views of the bay.
The recent COVID-19 pandemic changed all that, but manager/owner, Carey Morgan and her team made some important modifications that have transformed the dining experience at Sailor Jack’s. Morgan and her team obtained permission from the City of Benicia to place tables along the edge of the adjoining parking lot, creating the consummate waterfront dining experience. They recently erected a polycarbonate glass wall to protect patrons from the bay winds. They decreased the number of inside tables to ten, but increased the outside tables from twenty to thirty. Each of these tables is spaced at least six feet from one other in an effort to comply with recent health safety measures. All of Sailor Jack’s employees, including waitstaff, chefs and food preparation workers, wear masks and gloves and follow all new safety guidelines. Hand sanitizer is available at every table. Customer safety is their first concern.
The management team at Sailor Jack’s chose to see the pandemic as an opportunity to expand their outdoor eating space.
They used the months of lockdown to make changes that keep patrons and staff safe, yet still allow the owners to stay in business. The City of Benicia is to be commended on their efforts to work with business people such as the Sailor Jack’s team to sustain the economic feasibility of doing business here in Benicia. Carey Morgan and her team are to be applauded for using the pandemic as an opportunity to transform their already successful business into a unique attraction and dining option.
In early April, as business downtown came to a standstill, Carey Morgan wrote, “Warm French Bread & Clam Chowder for Take-Out” on her sandwich board outside Sailor Jack’s entrance, and many Benicians, eager for the comforting food, made Sailor Jack’s their choice.
Reopening was complicated by the loss of some seafood suppliers, but at last, customers are now able to enjoy the perennial favorite, fish and chips, as well as surf and turf. Dinner choices include a variety of fish, including yellowfin tuna, petrale sole, salmon and halibut. Their ribeye steaks and pork chops are also patron favorites. Appetizers are especially tasty here with crispy brussel sprouts, fried or raw oysters, tuna poke, calamari and ceviche. Lunch offerings include freshly made salads (including a great seafood salad), fresh hamburgers and sandwiches. Vegetarian options include salads and a house polenta. Breakfast can be ordered until 2:00 p.m. on weekends for brunch lovers and late risers.
It is inspirational to witness the optimistic attitude of the management at Sailor Jack’s. As Carey Morgan noted, “Just because we have always done things a certain way, doesn’t mean we can’t make changes for the better.” With businesses teetering between success and failure, this affirmation and can-do attitude is refreshing indeed. And let’s face it, nothing beats sitting outside, next to the bay with a cold beverage in your hand, letting the salt breeze carry your worries away.