Fudpucker’s is not like other restaurants. The fun, colorful exterior makes that obvious from the outside. Not surprisingly, the creativity continues inside as well! Today, we are interviewing local artist (2013 South Walton Artist of the Year) Andy Saczynski. You’ll find Andy’s whimsical art throughout both Fudpucker’s restaurant locations in Destin and in Fort Walton Beach.
What is your connection with Fudpucker’s?
I met Chester Kroeger (aka Father Fud) several years ago. My wife and I became friends with his daughter and her fiance, and eventually we knew the entire family. I used to own a landscaping business, and was initially hired to maintain the grounds at Fudpucker’s. But once Chester discovered I was an artist, everything started to change. As we got to know each other, we realized that we had a lot in common, creatively speaking. I hate to use the cliche, but we both see things out of the box. I mean, how many restaurants have a VW bus permanently busting through the wall?
So, you started off as the landscaper and then became part of the creative team?
I guess you could say that. Shortly after meeting Chester, I started transitioning from landscaper to full time artist. This was before I had my art gallery in Grayton Beach. So, he came to my house and I showed him a bunch of my work. He was so excited, he basically told me to do whatever I wanted to do in Fudpucker’s Down Under Bar, which I completed in early 2012.
Where did you get your inspiration for your artwork at Fudpucker’s?
I was mostly inspired by Gator Beach, as well as Destin being known as a fishing town. If you check out all the table tops in the Down Under Bar, you’ll see my version of a lot of locally caught fish, plus some crazy alligators. And of course I added some musically-inspired elements and a bit of funkiness. It’s a colorful, fun place.
You also did some work at Fudpucker’s on Okaloosa Island, right?
Yes. I did that project in late 2012, before construction was complete. Most of my work is in the upstairs private dining room and downstairs bar.
Was this your first restaurant project?
I’ve had my work hanging in other local restaurants, but this was the first time I was hired to paint murals on the walls, floors, and tables.
Which part of the painting project are you most proud of?
In the Okaloosa Island location, I really like the shark upstairs that’s taking a bite out of the Landshark guitar. But you can’t see what I’m most proud of in Destin…
What do you mean?
I had hand painted a door in the Down Under Bar. It turned out really cool. When Chester’s wife saw it, she insisted it come home with them. It’s now the front door on their house. To me, that’s hilarious and awesome! They even asked me to sign it. Who else but Father Fud would do that? I think it’s great. I love that guy!