Built just over 25 years ago, our Brevard Zoo is still looking to grow and expand within the county. And through the years, the zoo has changed along with our county. Even more so, the zoo has also helped with the growth of Brevard and is looking to help bring more tourists than ever before to Brevard!
Joining me on this episode of "Dinner and Drinks" is the Executive Director of the Brevard Zoo, Keith Winston. As you'll learn in the episode, Keith moved to Brevard back in 2004 to take up the job he still holds today. Back then, the zoo was still a great attraction for any tourist that wanted to spend a day in Melbourne. However, I remember back then, they didn't have nearly as much going on through the calendar year as they do now. Fast forward to 2019, and the zoo has regular special events that happen. From "Boo At The Zoo", to the very popular "Jazzoo" that has numerous bands playing music around the zoo. And it includes fantastic local restaurants and breweries that give out samples to all who attend. During normal business hours, you can take the kids to the zoo and experience a kayak ride through exhibits, feed giraffes, see cheetahs and even take a train ride through the zoo as well. Plus, let's not forget about "Tree Top Trek". An attraction that can have you walking above the ground, taking in sites rarely seen through Brevard County. And overseeing it all is Keith and his awesome team at the Brevard Zoo.
When Keith moved here, as stated back in 2004, it was during our summer of numerous hurricanes. And even that didn't stop him from setting down roots in our community and really becoming a part of Brevard County. He really has a vision for what the zoo should be. What the zoo will become. And how it can help invest our community in to growing tourism. So let's check out Keith's "Brevard County Story", as this episode gets underway at one of my favorite places in Downtown Melbourne, Hell N Blazes!
I really hope you stayed for the coolest news in that episode. The absolute fact that, with the help of the community, Brevard Zoo is hoping to build soon our very own state-of-the-art aquarium up in Port Canaveral! To learn more about the future aquarium and to donate to help fund it, check out TheAqauriumProject.org!
I also wanted to share with you one of the great days I had at the zoo with my niece in my mom. That day, we hung out with birds and they gave the birds little cups of nectar. We saw kangaroos. And my niece even fed the giraffes! Heads up, this is when I learned about "Boomerrang" so yeah...there's a lot of that.
Since Melbourne Mainstreet has been our sponsor for "Dinner and Drinks", they have had us check out great restaurants in Downtown Melbourne. And without a doubt, Hell N Blazes has been one of the best and most gracious hosts when we record each episode. Todd, the brewmaster and Drew, the head chef, really crank out some amazing products that you need to try for yourself! Hell N Blazes itself is a very historic building in Downtown. At one time it was a hardware store. After that, it was briefly a television station (until they realized that trains cause vibrations...and no one wants shakey TV). And until Hell N Blazes was created, it was also a year round Christmas store. Inside of the restaurant, they have a whole wall dedicated to the history of the building and even have a wall depicting the history of Downtown Melbourne. (Did you know there was once a huge fire that happened in Downtown? They give you that history inside...also, Hell N Blazes is haunted!!!)
Take a look at what Keith and I had on this episode! From a blacked burger that had a fried egg, to their brisket poutine, Keith and I left full and happy! And the beer....mmmmm....it's all brewed right there inside of Hell N Blazes! We both enjoyed Todd's seasonal brew named the "Palm Bay IPA"! The inside is warm and cozy, filled with the smell of wood and great food. They've got tons of TV's to watch a Saturday football game and even in the back they have a full game room with old school arcade games, darts, and a pool table! We did this episode in their private dining room that you can have parties in!
And also, a special shout out to the super-star of the episode, Crystal our server! She did a great job!
This whole episode was really cool to me, because the Brevard Zoo is really taking enormous steps not just in bringing tourists to our county, but also in the environmental front of Brevard. As Keith stated in the podcast, over 50,000 people have helped the Brevard Zoo with environmental projects, sustainability, and other eco-projects sponsored by the zoo. With an organization like theirs leading the charge to protect and educate, animals are better understood. And for that I can't thank them enough.
I'd also like to thank Drew, Todd, and Don over at Hell N Blazes. Don is the owner of Hell N Blazes, and he really shared with me the history of his restaurant and it's really cool to see how he's really taken the history of his building and put it out for us to see. Soon, you'll see a "historic landmark" sign at Hell N Blazes which to me is so really cool because these buildings in Downtown truly are historic, as they date back many many decades. And to Drew and Todd, keep up the fantastic and innovative ideas! The food is next level great and the beer...well they know my opinion. So let me just say to you reading, THE BEER IS BONKERS GREAT! From the Brevard County names to the full flavor and care they take into brewing it. If by now you haven't started to get hungry from the pictures, just walk in...you'll stay for a great experience!
As always, in closing, I'd like to also thank the Melbourne Mainstreet as our sponsor and our guide through learning more about Downtown Melbourne's great restaurants.