June 20, 2019 MFS: No, the Ocean Grill is not a tourist trap. Great food, excellent service, fine wine and the best ocean views in the area. This is one my favorite restaurants. I come here at least twice a week. Unfortunately they don’t serve food from 2:30 to 5 weekdays. But the bar is open!
The building you dine in at the Ocean Grill was built almost 70 years ago by Waldo Sexton, the eccentric entrepreneur who left his imprint on so many landmarks in Vero Beach. He not only built the Grill, but he also built the road leading to it. In the 1920’s Waldo and a strong team of mules cleared the right-of-way for A-1-A from the south county line to the Sebastian Inlet.
It was not until 1941, however, that the restaurant was constructed high on a sand dune 200 yards from the rolling Atlantic. From his many storehouses Waldo gathered pecky cypress, mahogany, wrought iron and Spanish antiques to furnish the new building. The first meal was served, appropriately, on a romantic New Year’s Eve.
The main dining room was an open-air patio with a terrazzo floor and, for a brief week, customers dined every evening under the stars. Uninvited sandflies, however, conflicted with the diners and a roof was soon added.
Waldo had not foreseen World War II in his plans for the Grill, but seizing opportunity from misfortune, he turned the building into an officers’ club for the naval air base located west of Vero Beach where Dodgertown now stands. The war was literally at our doorsteps when local citizen sailors encountered Nazi submarines just a few hundred yards off Vero’s shore.