A new seafood stop opens
There’s a new place to stop for seafood on DeLand’s north side, since MoonDancers Oyster Bar & Grill opened five months ago at 2620 N. Woodland Blvd.
The restaurant is a TARDIS. You cannot tell from the outside how expansive and attractive it is on the inside. It looks like a dive bar, but is a family-oriented restaurant with a beautiful garden seating area.
Some will recognize this as the previous home of City Limits Taproom, which has moved north on U.S. Highway 17 to the outskirts of DeLeon Springs.
Peter Ferrentino and Paula Outzen, in partnership with Jim Knight, own MoonDancers, City Limits and another soon-to-be-serving DeLeon Springs restaurant, called 17 North, which is currently open as a bar.
There’s been a bit of restaurant shuffling going on: MoonDancers used to be operating in what’s now the 17 North location, City Limits was where MoonDancers is now, and City Limits is now where Pit Master BBQ used to be.
In addition to offering a full bar and menu of seafood and American food, MoonDancers boasts hugely popular nightly food and drink specials, as well as trivia and cornhole nights, and a quarter-acre garden space for weddings and other events.
AT A GLANCE
NAME: MoonDancers Oyster Bar & Grill
ADDRESS: 2620 N. Woodland Blvd., DeLand
HOURS: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
CUISINE: Casual, American, seafood
SPECIALS: Specials include 50-cent oysters on Mondays and Thursdays, $2 fish tacos or $3 shrimp tacos on Tuesdays, fingerling catfish for $5 a pound on Wednesdays, peel-and-eat steamed shrimp for $6 per pound on Fridays, and $15.99 lobster on Sundays. There are also special prices on margaritas and bloody marys on Tuesdays, cornhole games on Wednesdays and Sundays, and trivia on Tuesdays.
ALCOHOL: Full bar and soft drinks
SEATING OPTIONS: Inside or in the garden
SPECIAL DIETS: Not applicable
DRESS CODE: Casual
KID- AND PET-FRIENDLY?: Yes
PRICES: We ordered mahi bites, raw oysters, stuffed mushrooms and a mahi dinner with french fries and green beans. We drank iced tea. Our total bill was $58.60.
MORE INFORMATION: Call MoonDancers at 386-873-4373
The garden area provides restaurant seating for up to 100 people, and 40 to 50 more seats are inside.
Peter Ferrentino humbly refers to himself as a cook, not a chef.
“I do not think of myself as a chef, as that title is reserved for proper chefs like Gordon Ramsay,” he said.
In addition to being a cook, Peter is a businessman and contractor, who also owns Steel Fox Firearms in DeLand. His family used to own several pizza places in the area.
His wife, Paula Outzen, is a teacher at Taylor Middle-High School in Pierson, a real estate agent, a builder and a broker.
The couple are passing on the family tradition of hard work and entrepreneurship to their four children, all of whom work at MoonDancers in between their various school commitments. The children are part of a total team of six bartenders, eight cooks and two servers.
At MoonDancers, good quality food at an affordable price seems to be a priority, as well as giving something back to the community whenever they can.
For example, with specials that make a night out extremely affordable: 50-cent oysters on Mondays and Thursdays, $2 Fish-Taco Tuesdays, $6-per-pound peel-and-eat shrimp on Fridays, and a $15.99 lobster special on Sundays.
All of the specials, the couple said, cost more than the food is sold for.
“These are our loss leaders, but it is important for us to make it where there is something for everyone. We like to give back to our community,” Peter added.
He learned this helping in his family’s pizza restaurants when he was growing up.
“DeLand loves good quantity; a good bargain that tastes good, and the people here will support you,” he said.
“Ever since we started offering our specials, we have been busy every night,” she said.
MoonDancers is family-run and casual. My fellow diner, Al Scott, and I sat under cover outside in the rain with the whole family, except for the eldest son, who is currently off at college. All of their team who were there working that day came outside to be photographed together.
Our conversation made clear that offering good value for good quality, as well as bringing a sense of community and providing young people with a sense of stability, are priorities in the operation of MoonDancers.
“We are a real family operation. In addition to our own kids, many of our team are current or previous students of Taylor High School,” teacher Paula said.
Peter cheerfully shares a motto for MoonDancers that he has been working on refining:
“Relax. Don’t rush. Come to MoonDancers to enjoy and relax,” he said, quickly offering another version with a laugh, “The drinks are going to flow. The food is going to be slow. Come relax and unwind. Gonna take a while to dine.”
This writer is really impressed by the love and dedication this family is putting into their establishment. It’s pure love, and I can’t wait to go for lobster on a Sunday. What a great deal.
Here’s how my dinner companion, Al Scott, put it: “Atmosphere plus food plus guest experience equals a great time. A great atmosphere, and the food has a good unexpected twist. I left feeling full and like my day was made better by the experience.”
— The Beacon welcomes our new writer! Read more by Johnson at her website, www. amandagracejohnson.com.