VERO BEACH – Those interested in collecting and preserving pieces of local history, look no further. A piece of Old Vero will soon be gone.
Le Patio, a restaurant that’s been at 1103 21st St. for about 90 years, auctions off its historic and eccentric decor, from its medieval artwork, lanterns and tableware to its sturdy tables and chairs. For locals who grew up dining at this quirky restaurant, more recently a seafood tavern, the auction is a bittersweet final farewell.
“It’s sad the turn of events that our family no longer owns it,” said Jens Tripson, 67, whose grandfather, Waldo Sexton, designed the building. “The restaurant business is tough. They’ve done well a few times, and a few times not well.”
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The Patio was a Vero Beach staple for decades, thanks to its unique and somewhat eerie vibe. It was built in 1935, originally as a fruit stand, but has changed between several restaurants over the years.
More recently it has stood empty.
It closed two years ago after experiencing a slump in business, and the owners, the Sexton family — descendants of Waldo Sexton, a well-known Vero Beach developer — sold it in February to the Boca Raton realtor Prakas & Co. for $600,000, according to property records.
Athan Prakas, owner of Prakas & Co., said he was renting the building to turn it into a “golf simulator sports bar”, called the 19th Hole. The interior will be redone to accommodate three virtual golf simulators, Prakas said.
“The building itself, the exterior and everything, will remain the same,” he said.
But before the building is resurrected in its new form, the remains of the interior are auctioned off, allowing the community to keep the memory of the restaurant alive.
“We used to come all the time,” said Vero Beach resident Meggin Diminio, 42, who remembers eating there as a child. “We used to always come here to celebrate things, like after my first communion we came here.”
Diminio and her husband, Nick, also 42, were among several dozen locals who strolled through The Patio on Tuesday where Indian River Auction Gallery held a public display of the auctioned items.
With the empty building dormant for years, its atmosphere felt more like an antiquated library than a restaurant, with its dark wood interior, stained glass windows and dimly lit rooms – a handful of people quietly browsing what it had to to offer.
It was a stark contrast to those who remembered its once bustling and bustling atmosphere. But all his old relics were there: wrought iron chandeliers, oil paintings, stained glass renderings of Ponce de León discovering Florida and the fountain of youth – or a dinner menu from decades ago, when a 10-ounce filet mignon was $16.95.
The Diminios said they were considering bidding on one of the restaurant’s chairs. Although they grew up eating there, they weren’t too sad to see him go. They even acknowledged that it needed sprucing up.
“You’d expect it when it’s this old,” Meggin Diminio said.
For Tripson, who grew up around the restaurant, he said he was sad to see him go.
He remembers working as a busboy at the Patio from the late 1960s to the early 1970s, and in the 1980s he painted the building’s stained glass windows depicting the discovery of Florida.
What will Vero Beach be missing now that there is no longer The Patio? The atmosphere, he says, which is unlike anything else.
The online auction started on August 17 and ends on August 31. To view the items, visit hibid.com or call the Indian River Auction Gallery, 772-492-3748, for more information.