When travelers visit Tampa International Airport’s Airside C, one of the first things they will notice once they get through security is a cylindrical 1,300-gallon fish tank.
The tank was built by Acrylic Tank Manufacturing’s Wayde King and Brett Raymer, stars of the Animal Planet reality TV show Tanked. The 10,000-pound fish tank is the centerpiece of the RumFish Grill, which held its grand opening Wednesday morning, complete with a live band, cocktails and fancy seafood hors d’oeuvres.
This is the first full-service restaurant opening as part of the airport’s $953 million renovation project.
In keeping with the brand of the RumFish Grill in St. Pete Beach, the restaurant is focused around ocean conservation, said Keith Overton, president of TradeWinds Island Resorts, which owns the RumFish Grill. In line with marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey, who inspired the restaurant, Overton said that the company has an obligation to protect the natural resources of the area.
“We won’t serve sea bass because it is overfished,” he said.
The fish tank, which measures 6 feet in diameter, was installed weeks ago in the dead of night, King said. The tank was filled with native fish and water from the Gulf of Mexico.
On top of the tank is a large blue-and-white plexiglass marlin that is intended to look like it has just been hooked, splashing as it comes out of the tank, King said.
King and Raymer also installed a 33,500-gallon aquarium at the original RumFish Grill in St. Pete Beach.
While the airport aquarium didn’t quite measure to that scale, “It was tough getting the tank in,” King said.
The installation involved lifting the structure with a crane, removing doors and laying down boards. The tank had to be connected to plumbing 154 feet away in the basement of the airport.
The drama of the entire installation will be broadcast on Tanked this summer, King said.
The RumFish Grill brand is owned by TradeWinds Island Resorts, which operates the Guy Harvey Outpost resort in St. Pete Beach. TradeWinds issued a licensing agreement for RumFish to Delaware North, which will operate the restaurant in the airport, along with an existing location in Amalie Arena.
With the opening of the RumFish Grill, the Chili’s that had previously been in Airside C has closed. It will be replaced by a new retail vendor.
Airside C is host to Southwest Airlines, which is Tampa International Airport’s biggest carrier.