Fifty years ago, when there was still a citrus industry in Broward County, Bob Roth's New River Groves opened as a packing house and shipper.
Bob Roth, its soon-to-be 70-year-old owner, even had a few gas pumps for farmers to fill their tractors and tourists to fill their gas guzzlers.
The citrus is gone. So are the gas pumps. What remains is a three-acre tropical-fruit farm and a taste of Old Florida, a peek into a now-gone agricultural corner of South Florida on busy Griffin Road.
While not exactly a restaurant, New River Groves makes incredible fruit smoothies ($4.50) and chocolate-covered Key lime tarts on a stick ($3.95) in its open-air market. Roth rents space to the operators of the Groves Coffee House, which serves breakfast omelets ($4.20-$5.45) and lunchtime sandwiches and salads ($5.95-$7.99).
Wander through the store, and you'll find Indian River Honeybells, stone crab claws and bags of tenderized alligator meat ($15.95 per pound). Coconut water ($5.95 per pint) goes directly from coconuts to bottles. There are grandmotherly coconut patties, jugs of Florida honey and jars of gourmet pickles and mustard. Gift baskets are a specialty. On Saturdays, a local breadmaker sells his healthful loaves. Another man brings trees. Occasionally, there are arts and crafts. School tours are a constant.
"It's like an old farm store here," Roth says. "We try to create a family farming area, a bit of nostalgia from the '60s, when people out here use to get together in groups."
Terry Roth, Bob's wife who died of cancer 12 years ago, starting baking Key lime pies ($14.50) when she was pregnant with their son David. They've since become one of the store's biggest sellers and a favorite on many Thanksgiving tables. The pie line has expanded to include mango Key lime, orange Key lime, strawberry and banana cream.
Thirty years ago, the Roths started making fudge ($11.95 per pound). Throughout the year, 50 varieties are made in a specially air-conditioned room at the facility. Key lime fudge is the best seller, but they also make such seasonal flavors as pumpkin, apple pie and Christmas cookie.
Over at the Groves Coffee House, chicken and beef empanadas ($2) are made fresh every morning. You should hope to find the special steak wrap ($7.99), skirt steak with lettuce tomato and crunchy shoestring potatoes. A Cuban chicken wrap ($7.99) takes the pickle and mustard from traditional Cuban sandwiches and wraps them with grilled chicken in a tortilla. Chicken Caesar salad ($7.95) is stuffed into a Styrofoam takeout container and can be eaten with plastic forks and knives at one of the half-dozen high-top tables.
The Food Network has visited New River Groves. It was featured on the TV series "The Glades," and appeared in two feature films, "Cape Fear" and "The Substitute."
Roth's daughter-in-law Angie Roth now manages the place during the week. His daughter, Lisa Roth, is there on weekends. Both Roth's 103-year-old father Al occasionally stops by. Al Roth, now in assisted living, moved his family from Surfside to Davie in the late 1950s, after falling in love with an orange grove a few miles west of his son's business.
It's all gone now. But you can get a taste of it at Bob Roth's New River Groves.
5660 Griffin Road, Davie
Cuisine: This and that
Hours: 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. daily
Credit cards: All major
Outside smoking: No
For kids: Highchairs, boosters
Wheelchair accessible: Yes
Parking: Free lot