Come Friday, Sept. 8, restaurateur and pub owner Jason Reichman of Crackerjacks Seafood and the Irish Pub and Eatery in Titusville will check his self-restraint at the door and become the irrepressible Cyndi Lauper, at least for a couple of hours.
Reichman is one of the “Dudes” in “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” which raises serious money to help the Women’s Center combat domestic violence.
Here’s the scoop on this dude and his eateries.
Question: What is your history, Jason?
Answer: I was born in Abington, Pennsylvania, and moved to Florida at the age of 5. I grew up in Melbourne and Palm Bay until leaving for college. I graduated from Florida State with a degree in music education and then pursued a master's degree from Louisiana State University.
Q: How did you get into the restaurant/pub business?
A: I came back to Brevard to be closer to my grandparents and taught at Cocoa Beach Junior/Senior High for three years. This was supposed to be temporary until I continued to pursue my music career. In that time though, I bought the Irish Pub and Eatery in Titusville, thinking I could teach and run the business more as an investment. I quickly learned that this was not possible and left teaching to renovate the restaurant. I used to say that I got into this business by accident, but thinking upon it now, I see that it is just a path I stumbled upon.
A few years later, Audrey Hunter and I decided to take a chance and develop Crackerjacks, a casual seafood restaurant at the Veterans Memorial Pier. The building was designed to be an inclement weather station and a hot dog stand, but we had a vision to create something more.
At the time, everyone warned us against the idea, as there were several obstacles to overcome, such as a downturn in the economy, construction of the bridge and the simple fact that the kitchen is too small and not designed for the kind of volume we would encounter.
There were no other bidders for the concession, so we took a gamble and poured our heart and soul into giving our town a casual safe place to dine, drink and fish on the water. There surely was a learning curve in operating a restaurant as well as a 24-hour park, but we've dialed in a winning menu and have a great relationship with the regular shrimpers.
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Q: Please describe Crackerjacks in 25 words or less.
A: Crackerjacks is a casual fun place to hear music, eat, drink and enjoy life.
Q: Signature dish?
A: Our fish tacos are the most popular, but the Island Salad, Seafood Boil and several other items not found anywhere else also stand out.
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Q: What must first-time visitors try?
A: Try anything with our fresh fish selections, but I always refer people back to the Irish Pub and Eatery for the best fish and chips anywhere.
Q: How did this “Dudes” gig happen?
A: This is my first year on the performing side of “Dudes.” Crackerjacks has hosted and provided food and the entertainment for the Titusville Dudes for the past four years. We are proud that we have helped generate hundreds of thousands of dollars from North Brevard.
Q: Why Cyndi Lauper?
A: She personified individuality and expression. Not having the best voice or needing to be the sexiest, she created some of the most iconic songs of the '80s. It surely helps me identify through my love of theater that she wrote the score to “Kinky Boots,” which won six Tony awards on Broadway.
Q: Words that describe you?
A: Compassionate, positive, dreamer/visionary.
Q: What is in your bucket list?
A: To travel, sing and perform more and to finish writing my Broadway musical.
A: I've run the Space Coast Singers out of Cocoa Village Playhouse the past three years.
Q: What’s ahead for you?
A: Our current project is the boldest one yet. We are creating basically three business. We are renovating the Nevins Fruit packing plant into an indoor farm called Urban Fresh with plans to grow mushrooms, micro greens, herbs and vegetables.
Behind the farm, we are building by hand The Venue at Nevins for shabby chic elegant weddings. We are even milling our own wood, repurposing trees headed for the landfill.
Finally, we have started a nonprofit Studio of the Arts also on the property. Our area needs more options for the arts, and we want to provide a place where people can learn and socialize in a fun environment. This is an idea I've had for maybe 20 years of a place where people can come and learn in a group environment, keeping the costs down and being social at the same time.
We would offer anything from singing, acting, dancing, painting and pottery to full theater productions. We want to bring life to our area in positive ways.
Crackerjacks and Irish Pub and Eatery
Where: Crackerjacks is at 2 A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway, Titusville. Address for The Irish Pub is at 125 Harrison St., Titusville.
Call: 321-264-5065 (Crackerjacks) and 321-264-0311 (Irish Pub)
Web: facebook.com/CrackerJacks-Tiki-Bar-and-Grill and theirishpubfl.com
Hours: Crackerjacks’ kitchen is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar is open from 11 a.m. to midnight every day. The Irish Pub’s kitchen hours are the same as Crackerjacks, but its bar is open until 2 a.m.
“Dude Looks Like a Lady”
Jason Reichman will be one of the 11 “Dudes” in “Dude Looks Like a Lady,” which will be 6:30 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8, at Radisson Resort at the Port, 8701 Astronaut Blvd., Cape Canaveral. Individual tickets for the event are $75, but sponsorships are also available.
Reichman will be joined by dudes such as FLORIDA TODAY executive editor Bob Gabordi, who will channel his inner Eva Peron to raise money for the Women’s Center's efforts against domestic violence.
For more information and tickets, visit womenscenter.net.