The History of Fat Willie's Fish Camp in Brandon, Florida

Fat Willie’s Fish Camp has been serving the Greater Brandon community for 47 years as a family-owned and operated fish camp-style restaurant. The building was constructed by Mr. Lubeck Brandon in 1915 in the heart of downtown Valrico and was used as a general store.

In 1922 Mr. A. L. Porter purchased the building and continued the same type of business until 1941 when he sold it to his daughter and son-in-law, Zaidee and Henry Sharrar. They operated the store as a general store selling groceries, dry goods, fuel, feed, and in the words of Zaidee Sharrar, “anything that would turn a dollar.” During this period it also housed the U. S. Post Office.

They sold the building in 1970 to the Russell family who converted it into a restaurant. In 1975 William Robinson purchased it to become the home of Fat Willie’s Fish Camp. 

“Fat Willie’s” as it became known to people far and wide, was patterned after the many seafood restaurants Mr. Robinson patronized while living and traveling in North Carolina. These family-owned restaurants are found in every part of North Carolina and are called “Fish Camps” by the locals. When he returned to his native state of Florida, Mr. Robinson brought the fish camp concept with him and opened his own restaurant. 

The fish camp concept is one of simplicity and quality.  The idea is to do a few things very well. To do seafood well, you must always keep it fresh. This is accomplished by keeping it iced until the moment it is cooked. Nothing is prepared ahead, and all seafood products are iced until your order reaches the kitchen. This simple process assures freshness, but of course, it helps that we buy only the very highest quality seafood products available. 

Keeping it in the Family!

Fat Willie's Fish Camp was opened on February 20, 1975, as a family restaurant based on the Carolina "fish camp" style.

"I was living in Charlotte, North Carolina, and traveled throughout both North and South Carolina. During these travels, I patronized many of the "fish camp" restaurants that were to be found by the dozens in those areas. Being impressed by the homey atmosphere, the excellent food, and reasonable prices, I decided to return to my home state and open my own "fish camp."  Thus, Fat Willie's was born."

It has been our goal since its inception to provide our customers with the finest in seafood dining. We buy only the best products available and handle them in a manner that ensures freshness. Everything is iced down and breaded only when your order reaches the kitchen. Attention to each individual order has been the reason for our continued success. Even though, like everyone else, we have been caught up in the swirl of economic inflation and forced to periodically raise our prices, we have never compromised the quality of our products. You can be assured that policy will continue. 

With great enthusiasm and much anticipation, Fat Willies has once again fired up the fryers and heated up the grills. Bill’s nephew Chris Pate and Bill’s long-time friend Roy Mireles will be taking the helm. 

Chris and Roy have a combined 25 years of experience as Willie’s employees/managers. Thank you for choosing us for your dining experience! Enjoy your visit! 

Chris & Roy

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