Barracuda, Sand Bar, Grove Cares invest in community outreach

Lee Kessler is the new owner of Barracuda Bar & Grill.

Coconut Grove’s bars and restaurants make it a great place to chill and have fun while also supporting numerous charitable programs.

The Grove’s Barracuda Bar recently came under new ownership as Grove resident Lee Kessler, well known for raising thousands of dollars every year for the Jimmy Fund, has taken over the very popular spot. Kessler has revamped the menu and made some renovations to give the place a bit of a facelift, installed new television screens for sports while keeping the pool table and games.

The lunch crowd is returning as customers discover Kessler’s menu options that now include some healthier choices such with great seafood and salads. Of course, the place also is a busy stop on the regular Coconut Grove Pub Crawls for charity with its selection of beer, wine and sake.

Speaking of pub crawls, the recent Alfest Pub Crawl in the Grove raised approximately $12,000 this year with proceeds directed to two great non-profit organizations — Camp Boggy Creek and Children Battling Cancer.

Alfest founder and one of the owners of Sand Bar, Albert Borrero, reported a crowd of close to 300 participating in this year’s event. Oddly enough, this event had its start as a joke during an evening of partying with friends, one of whom stayed coherent enough to remember the conversation and design the first T-shirt for the Crawl. With the shirt done, Alfest became a reality and the rest is history.

Expanding upon those charitable efforts, volunteers involved with Grove Cares once again will host their annual charitable fundraiser, Festidan, at Peacock Park in Coconut Grove on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2-10 p.m. Proceeds will benefit the ALS Foundation, with a mission to help fund scientific research to find a cure for the illness commonly known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Expect to enjoy performances by four to six live musical acts on a sound stage and be prepared to bring your tailgating supplies as the event’s slogan is “This is Tailgating.” Admission is a $30 donation for members of the public ages 21 and older. Guests will receive a wristband giving them entry to the event and free beer provided by its sponsors until 7 p.m.

For more information, visit online at <>.

Coconut Grove’s Tonkinson Financial team, Rick, Steven and Margarita Tonkinson, recently participated in a shark research and outreach trip with the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program (RJD) in Islamorada. The Tonkinsons were joined that day with an organization called Shark Whisperer, which is an active contributor to the RJD Program. For RJD, outreach is a key program component that works hand-in-hand to support the cutting edge research projects.

During this encounter, the team secured sharks, took tissue and blood samples and placed an ID tag before releasing the sharks in excellent condition back into the water.

Those interested in learning more about the RJD Program may connect with them online at <>.

To support this research, those wishing to share this encounter may make a taxdeductible donation of $1,500 for one person to accompany a shark research trip, $2,500 to adopt a shark (name and sponsor satellite tag) and have two people accompany a shark research trip, or $7,500 to adopt a shark (name and sponsor satellite tag) and have a private group charter of a shark research trip (up to 20 people). For donations, please send email to <>.

Until next time, keep making each day count.

If you want to submit information for this column, please send your news via email to <>.

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A graduate of the University of Florida with a major in Spanish, Burns has an extensive background in advertising, marketing and reciprocal trade, travel as well as non profit consulting and management. Burns' volunteer activities led her to become a columnist writing Gloria’s Gab, a column that focuses on the non-profit activity. Burns was Executive Director of the Jr. Orange Bowl Committee for 6 years and then served as the first Executive Director of Coral Gables Community Foundation for 14 years after which she helped the emerging Community Foundation of Pinecrest. Active in many non profits, she received the 2011 Florida Federation of Women’s Club Volunteer of the Year for the District 11 and the Rotarian of the Year Award. Among her list of current responsibilities, Burns co-chairs two annual student recognition breakfasts for the Coral Gables Friends of Education, co chairs the Doral Business Council Forum and is a DBC Ambassador, is Parliamentarian and serves on the board of the GFWC Coral Gables Woman’s Club and is on the board of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables and sings in the choir of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. She can be reached at

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