What happens when you bring heavy rain and flooding to one of the most alligator-dense lakes in Florida? Well, visitors to the Black Hammock Bar and Restaurant in Oviedo can now watch the scaly reptiles swim down the street while sitting down to dinner. The restaurant is part of Black Hammock Adventures on the shore of Lake Jesup. Recent rainfall in the St. Johns River has surged water levels and as a result, alligators are now swimming freely through what had been part of the shoreline.
Surprisingly, many residents say that it is not all that unusual.
“It’s a nice, laid-back place to come,” said diner Ray Buckner.
Black Hammock said that it would keep the restaurant open to visitors, even though the nearby dock and boat ramps are now submerged under several feet of water. Diners who brave the wet conditions will be able to enjoy an alligator-themed selection from the menu, as well maybe a glimpse of one of the elusive reptiles as well. During drier times, Black Hammock even had a wildlife exhibit open.
“The lakeside environs of Black Hammock scream ‘Old Florida’ loud and clear,” read a review by the Orlando Weekly. “With its moss-covered cypress trees, airboat tours and alligator exhibits, this bar is all about being at one with nature while having a good time. It’s one of those laid-back places with a ‘come as you are’ vibe.”
Lake Jesup also has a variety of wildlife besides alligators, including both bald eagles and ospreys.