Home»Local Spotlight»Keeper Days

Keeper Days

0
Shares
Pinterest Google+

Lighthouse Point is proud to be a small, close-knit, family-oriented community. Every year since 2000, the city has honored its “Keepers” — the men and women who help hold the community together. This year, the Keeper Day honorees are The Kniskern Family of KMC Marine, The Ganter Family of Seafood World and Tom Greene of Custom Rod and Reel. The honorees will be recognized at the Keeper Days kickoff dinner on Friday, Feb. 10 at the Lighthouse Point Yacht Club. The celebratory weekend also includes a parade, car show, concert, food vendors, fireworks and a family sports day on Sunday.


Tom Greene

In the early 1980’s, NASA had devised a safety technique to retrieve astronauts should they become untethered during space walks outside the space shuttle. It involved a rod and reel-like devise. They called Tom Greene (owner of Lighthouse Point’s Custom Rod & Reel) because they had learned about no one better at casting a rod and reel than him.

In 1978, a business man paid Tom $1000 per day for three days of fishing. Tom made the customer catch his own bait and fish from a bridge in the middle of the night. But he caught amazing fish and gave Tom the $3,000 plus a $2,000 tip.

Tom Greene has a passion for fishing and he’s shared that passion with thousands of fisherman in the 58 years since he “caught” his first fish. Tom started fishing with his family in Boca Raton in 1959 at age 11.  He became a small part of the fishing industry a few years later working at the local bait and tackle store; he’s been teaching the rest of us how to fish ever since.

When he was only 14, Tom already had a city-wide reputation for being an avid fisherman. He tells a story of a night when he and his friends almost got arrested for fishing at four in the morning from a bridge in Boynton Beach. The police officer was not accustomed to boys like Tom with so much sophisticated fishing hardware in their possession at such an early hour. He was suspicious and things started to look bad for Tom and his friends. Then Tom asked the officer to radio his dispatch and have them telephone the Boca Raton police station. Tom knew the police chief would be on duty. The officer obliged and asked the police chief who this kid named Tom Greene was and why he would be fishing at 4:00 a.m. with 43 top-quality rods and reels. The police chief asked back, “What did he do with the rest of it?”

The Boynton Beach officer let the boys continue fishing and even stopped by to see how they were doing a couple days later. The officer even took a few snook filets home for his own dinner.

Since boyhood, Tom has gained an encyclopedic knowledge of fish, bait, tackle, tides, moon phases, weather — anything that can effect the ability to catch fish.  When he answers customers calls at his store, he pounces on their questions with definitive responses, usually teaching anyone in ear’s- reach a thing or two. (Did you know there are two species of ballyhoo? Green shitters and blue backs. Really. I don’t make this stuff up.)

Tom’s an antique fishing reel collector, writes articles on fishing and has published a book called “A Net Full of Tails,” which is a collection of stories from his many encounters with huge fish and famous people. The stories are exciting adventures, like the time Tom caught a monster, 300-plus-pound tarpon, or the time he caught a Jack Crevelle. The Jack Crevelle is regarded by many as the toughest fighting fish on a per-pound basis. A 20-pounder will rip the rod out of your hands. A 40-pounder will rip you out of the boat.

Tom hooked a 43.5-pounder on the Boca Raton beach. He chased it on foot down the beach for over five miles until he got to the Boca Raton inlet where he was forced to jump in and dog-paddle across with his rod in his teeth and the fish on the line. He landed the fish near the Deerfield Beach pier. Tom is full of stories that show such sheer determination and dedication. Tom has a steady optimism that seems to guide his every mood.

“Life is good, everyday,” said 69-year-old Greene over lunch at Seafood World where he can be found many days eating the Tom Greene special, named after him.

There is a right of passage that Tom sees on a regular basis these days. The men who he once taught to fish years ago will come to his store with their sons or daughters to meet this amazing fisherman named Tom Greene. Tom inspires that kind of pilgrimage.


The Ganters

By Danielle Charbonneau & Lorie Greenspan

Papa Hughie and his family, the Ganters, have been in the seafood business for four decades. August, 2016 marked both the 40-year anniversary of Papa Hughie’s beloved restaurant Seafood World, and Papa’s 75th Birthday. Seafood World has become a Lighthouse Point institution — a must-visit for tourists, a regular destination for locals and a hot-spot for celebrity appearances through the years (including chef Gordon Ramsay, Priscilla Presley, Steve Wynn and Muhammad Ali).

In 1976 Hugh (“Papa”) and his wife Joy Ganter opened Seafood World at a time when seafood was rarely celebrated as a culinary ingredient. Papa Hughie jokes that at the time, the only people who consumed seafood were Catholics on Fridays.

“People didn’t like or know enough about seafood. It was very tough for us at first,” said Papa, who had been a pilot before running Seafood World. Papa had been transporting wholesale products, including seafood, between the Bahamian islands and the mainland, and had supplied the original restaurant where Seafood World now stands. When the original owner racked up some debt with Papa, he offered Papa the restaurant as payment. Papa was reluctant at first.

“I didn’t want to do it, but we decided to stick it out. We ran it as a family with four to five tables,” recalled Papa. When his plane crashed shortly after acquiring the restaurant (which was originally called Fishtails & Seafood World), the Ganter family was left with little choice but to make the restaurant their bread and butter.

After having spent many years in the Bahamas, Papa and Joy had a clear idea of the kind of restaurant they wanted — one where guests could enjoy the freshest of seafood in a relaxed, Caribbean-esque and friendly atmosphere where recipes were simple and tasteful. They wanted the sauces and spices to enhance, not overpower, the seafood. It was this original vision that has carried the business for four decades and spawned a second family restaurant next door, Papa’s Raw Bar, which was opened by Papa and Joy’s son Troy. Troy’s half-brother Christopher, a local fisherman and ocean enthusiast, works to supply both restaurants with seafood, while Troy operates the front-of-the-house at the Raw Bar.

“I’m a huge foodie and I cook,” said Troy, “but I’d rather be in the front of the house. I love entertaining.”

Troy, now 36, started busing tables at Seafood World when he was just 13. He went to college and swore he wouldn’t follow in the family footsteps. Instead, he started a wholesale operation, Best Stone Crabs, supplying fish, shellfish and signature salads to restaurants locally and throughout the Caribbean. Fate, however, had another plan. When a spot opened up in the strip next to Seafood World, Troy couldn’t resist. He bought the space and turned it in to an entertainment venue, raw bar and extension of the family business. The decor is an ode to Lighthouse Point pride — T-shirts from local businesses are pinned to the ceiling, photographs of regular customers line the walls and nautical souvenirs give the bar a welcoming, festive vibe. Local bands play live music regularly, and the menu is fun, with dishes such as Papa’s Gone Hibachi, Stonies by Billy Paradise and Fast Eddie’s Fried Rice, Papa’s Raw Bar boasts sushi and hibachi “better than Benihana,” said Papa Hughie. The bar sells more than 110 beers and 65 wines, features the Bimini Room, which is quickly becoming the go-to place for parties, and maintains a family-style theater. Troy also has his eyes on the lookout for a property to open a Latin fusion location in Pompano Beach and hopes to start an “Eat, Drink & Be Local” website.

For the Pompano Beach Fine Food & Wine Festival, Papa’s Raw Bar will be bringing their famous sushi boat, hibachi fried rice and some sweet chili shrimp.


The Kniskerns

Walk through the lot at KMC Marine in Lighthouse Point and it won’t take long to absorb the enthusiasm the Kniskern brothers have for boats. A connection to the water and boating may be in their DNA.

The brothers – Phil, Rob and Tom Kniskern – grew up in a Philadelphia suburb, but the family had a summer place on a bay in New Jersey where they spent summers and weekends. And there were always boats. Rob remembers his first boating experience when he was about 4 years old, on a 25-foot wooden Pacemaker. As they grew up, they were as comfortable on water as on land. There were boats of all kinds. There was fishing, water skiing, sailing, competitive racing. If it was on the water, the Kniskerns were likely involved. “We followed our passion,” is how Phil puts it. “You’ve got to do what you like,” says Rob.

That passion eventually led them to Florida and into the boat business after the family moved to Florida in 1977. By 1988, the three brothers decided their passion would be their business and professional lives. They began a marine supply store and yacht brokerage. Two years later they started selling new boats. At first they sold whatever they could, because, Phil says, “we had to pay our dues” in the business. When operating in a competitive environment, a business often needs a niche to succeed, and the Kniskern brothers set a new goal: to sell and service high-end center-console boats. “We’re not about volume; we’re about quality. And we want to take care of our customers.”

These days, one of those high-end boats is a Jupiter that Rob describes as “versatile” because it’s suited for fishing, diving, family recreation, entertaining, or trips to the Bahamas. Their buyers “appreciate value and know quality,” Rob says.

Stroll through the lot and you’ll see boats from 26 to 41 feet. In the years the brothers have sold and serviced boats they’ve seen some important changes in design. “Everyone got away from wooden boats,” Phil explains. “Most use fiberglass on the bottom now. They’re durable.” Outboard motors have gone from two strokes to four strokes, which use less gasoline, are quiet, don’t burn oil and don’t emit smoke.

To the brothers, “taking care of customers” includes servicing the boats they sell. The KMC Marine mechanics are certified by Yamaha to repair motors after they take required training in Georgia. The service is recognized in online testimonials. A Pompano Beach boat owner wrote: “I am blown away by their dedication to customers.” Another wrote: “The most dedicated mechanic I have ever met. His commitment to getting the job done is amazing.”

The service at KMC Marine includes detailing, bottom painting and fiberglass repairs, among other things. There’s an addition to the service department not at all directly related to boating – embroidery. Yes, embroidery. After all, if you’re going to embroider logos on your own shirts, you might as well do it for others. So KMC Marine now does embroidery for branches of city government, police departments, hats, shirts and custom monograms.

If your business is selling boats, you probably don’t have to own one. Even without his own boat, Phil says he’s on the water almost every day to deliver boats, transport boats or take new buyers out for sea trials.

KMC Marine, at 3000 N. Federal Highway in Lighthouse Point, is the oldest business of it’s kind in Lighthouse Point. Its contribution to the marine industry is now being recognized by the city. The Kniskern brothers will be recognized on Keepers day this month – a ceremonial event that includes a parade, a dinner, and the presentation of a ceremonial key to the Lighthouse Point lighthouse, a tradition that began years ago to honor the lighthouse keeper. This year’s theme focuses on the business of boating, fishing and seafood. Phil, Rob and Tom Kniskern will have to decide which one gets the lighthouse key.

Previous post

The Human Commodity: Modern Slaves

Next post

Pioneer Days