"Coot" Johnson and Tom Rooks were cousins, both born and raised in Vernon, Florida.
Tom was born in 1923 and Coot in 1927. They lived a typical small town life until World War II when they both joined the Navy and
served in the Pacific. After the war they attended the University of Florida on the GI Bill.
Coot was working for General Finance Corp when
he decided to open a business selling live bait. He bought the building shown above in 1964,
known then as Walker's Boat House, and set up shop. He expanded into small boat rental and
extended the docks for rentals.
Times were hard but he stuck with it and
persuaded his cousin Tom to join him in 1968. Later that year they started serving food. The
initial menu was raw oysters, boiled shrimp, gumbo, chowder and fried mullet.
Coot left the business in 1970 to teach and Tom
and his wife Jane took it over.
In 1974 they expanded by adding the back part
of the restaurant, increasing it to the present day size. They kept adding dock space for slip
When Tom died in 1979 Jane took over the
management and ownership of the business. Today Tom and Jane's son Dale is the operating
manager of the Rooks Marina and the restaurant. Jane remarried to Reed Rollins and they can be found most evenings at the M.O.B.