A new space at Shooters Waterfront is the latest manifestation of the Lauderdale legend’s maturation into a casual-but-elegant destination.

Versatile enough for big or small events, Shooters Waterfront’s new venue is clad in light neutral tones and exudes understated chic. Contemporary furniture can be arranged business-lunch boardroom style or dotted around for a wedding reception holding as many as 150 people. Blown glass-style lighting fixtures hang from the ceiling, adding an eclectically contemporary feel.

It all walks that line between upmarket style and Florida casual. And then you look out the window. “When you open up the window and the palm trees are right in front of you,” Shooters’ Director of Operations Peter Lopez says, “you cannot help feeling that relaxed Florida elegance.”

Beyond those palm trees sits the Intracoastal, long the feature that defines Shooters’ location and its private event/catering side, the Grateful Palate. The new space upstairs in Shooters is the latest redesign of the waterfront institution’s expansive property as it continues its move into a popular event site and upmarket – but not unattainable – restaurant and venue.

“It really came from out of necessity,” Lopez says of the remodel of the large upstairs area that previously was still fairly stuck in the ’80s. “We have a lot of event space here and we do a lot of different things with Mother’s Day, Easter, Valentine’s Day, the boat parade. We have quite a number of private events that happen here throughout the year.”

As they got more calls requesting those private events, it sometimes became tricky to juggle that with the place’s many open-to-the-public affairs. This space, Lopez says, had always been on the back burner while other projects got tackled. Eventually, they felt the time was right.

“We’d pretty much maximized everything else that we could do,” he says. “We wanted to look at the next thing.”

This space ticks a number of boxes when it comes to design details that people ask for.

“They want something that’s going to show off the Intracoastal views, but they also want a private space…with formal seating for 150 guests for a wedding reception,” Lopez says. Not that something like that didn’t also require some design creativity to make everything work and flow properly.

“For us it was how do we make it functional to serve 150 plates in a 15-minute span and still make it elegant?”

Words like “elegant” and events like wedding receptions or bridal showers haven’t always been the first things people think of when they think of the 37-year-old spot. Lopez knows that – and frankly, he was a fan of the old, more burgers-and-beer spot that existed when Fort Lauderdale was still the spring break capital. But times change and places, like people, evolve.

“It’s family friendly,” he says of the new Shooters. “It’s kind of grown up with Fort Lauderdale. We’ve changed with the times and we’ve been able to capture that essence of what’s happened with the city.”

“We want to make it affordable, attainable, accessible for everybody. We don’t want to be a price point where only a few can use our product. We want everybody to be able to use it.

“You’ve got a little bit of everything. It’s simple, relaxed elegance. Just when you thought there wasn’t any more to do here at Shooters, we’ve added another layer. And it’s something you’re going to be completely surprised with. All us old Floridians who’ve been around and associate Shooters with the heyday, they’re not going to expect that. It’s a wow factor.”

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