Bradenton restaurant to be featured on Travel Channel

nwilliams@bradenton.comJuly 29, 2012 

BRADENTON -- Since 1945, Linger Lodge, a southern-style restaurant in Bradenton, has provided locals and visitors with unique dishes and flavors.

The menu is almost as eye-popping as the decor of the establishment, which sits along the Braden River. Surrounded by several taxidermy animal wall hangings, customers will feel like they're inside an actual Florida swamp.

And in the near future, Linger Lodge's eclectic style will be broadcast to the nation.

A video crew from The Travel Channel stopped by the restaurant last week to document the establishment's alligator specialties and other southern fried dishes for its "Food Paradise" series.

The segment, titled "Tastes Just Like Chicken" will appear in February and will feature other restaurants around the country.

"Linger Lodge is an institution," said general manager David LaRusso.

The crew shot behind-the-scenes action in the kitchen and interviewed LaRusso, staff and customers. The nation may also get a glimpse of George Fry, known by regulars as "Cowboy George," a local

resident who performs karaoke three days a week at the restaurant at 7205 85th St. Court E.

"Any time a major cable program like that can come and film in the area, it's always good for us to get the word out," said Debbie Meihls, executive manager and film commissioner of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The highlighted food items that will appear on the show are the restaurant's alligator ribs, alligator bites and frog legs.

"There are very few places in the entire county, or region for that matter, where you can get gator rib," LaRusso said.

"Surprisingly, most people think different things of gator and what it's supposed to taste like. They're absolutely spectacular. Once you've had them, they're as good as any ribs I've ever had."

LaRusso said the segment is good advertisement for the restaurant, which like most Manatee County establishments, experiences a decrease in traffic during the offseason.

"Living here in offseason is challenging for all businesses and more so for the employees," he said. "And the more business we can generate here during offseason, the better our employees do, getting them better opportunities for full-time rather than part-time work."

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