The Destin family and Destin, Florida have been intertwined since Dewey’s great, great grandfather,
Leonard Destin, founded the town in 1835. The adventure began a few years earlier when Leonard, his
father George, and his brother William set out from New London, Connecticut with three ships and ran
into a hurricane near Cape Canaveral, Florida. Two of the ships, and Leonard’s father and brother,
were lost at sea. Stories had long circulated in the port of New London about the excellent fishing
to be found off the Florida coasts and Leonard decided to continue on and look for the best fishing
he could find as well as a place to settle down.
In 1845, Leonard Destin met and married Martha McCullom from South Carolina and built a lovely home
for a growing family (It was located 100 yards to the north of the current restaurant). As a Yankee,
Leonard was suspected of being a spy and was imprisoned near Freeport, Florida during the Civil War.
Scheduled to be hung, the circuit judge decided to spare Leonard’s life because he was a fellow Mason.
Following the war, Leonard returned to the area and lived here with his family of 4 sons and 3 daughters
until his death in 1884.
By the late 1870’s Leonard had built a thriving commercial fishery and employed many people in the area
which was then called East Pass. In 1879, Leonard hired a 13 year old boy named William Marler who proved
dependable and hard working. In a few short years Leonard gave William command of his own ship. Over the
years Captain “Billy” sailed the mail in and out of East Pass and, to make things easier for locals, created
an informal post office. In 1904, Captain Billy was formally made postmaster. An inquiry from Washington
requested the name of the official new post office and Captain Billy responded with "Destin" in honor
of his first employer.
Destin remained undiscovered and pretty much an island unto itself until the mid-1930's when the Marler
Bridge was built and the world began trickling into the Emerald Coast. In the 1940's and 50's most of
the growth came from an influx of military retirees who became familiar with the appeal of Destin’s
white sand beaches and cool sea breezes while stationed in the area. Condominium developers in the 70's
and 80's provided the next growth spurt with Destin becoming officially incorporated in 1985.
During the post World War II era, Buck Destin, great grandson of Leonard, continued building the family
commercial fishing enterprise. Buck’s only son, Dewey Destin, started working the boats and the processing
plants at an early age. Following college at Auburn University, Dewey returned to the family business where
it continued to grow by catching and providing bait fish for charter captains in the region as well as
selling all types of favorite fish to the local restaurants.
In 2000, a ban on net fishing by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission effectively put the Destin
fishing enterprise of 11 commercial fishing boats, 30,000 square feet of freezers and ice houses, and
over 40 employees, out of business.
Following the ban, Dewey Destin along with his wife Rebecca, his sister Nina, and all the kids focused
their energies on running two retail seafood stores and concentrated on providing the highest quality fish
to the local inhabitants and restaurants of the surrounding area. Dewey’s knowledge of fish and how it is
best served led to expanding the Destin market into this small, specialized restaurant.