Ever notice how the decor in pretty much every American family-style restaurant chain tends towards “vintage” in its decor? Whether it’s an adolescent server at TGI Fridays forced to wear retro buttons, the little triangle peg game at Cracker Barrel, or just a framed picture of Jackie Robinson at the McDonald’s off Exit 278, there’s an unspoken standard that equates nostalgia with hunger. Astute visitors to Captiva Island, Florida may beg the question: “Has any restaurant ever pushed this cozy decorating concept as far as the insane extremes of The Bubble Room?”
Started in 1979 in the front room of the Farqhuarson family home, the interior design began as a modest display of old children’s toys from the 1930s and 1940s like Kewpie dolls, stuffed gorillas, and vintage tin airplanes, before metastasizing into a pastel candyland of chintz and tchotchkes. The decorative concept behind the Bubble Room was, “It’s always Christmas at The Bubble Room.” However, unless your Christmas featured a three-level train set, an endless universe of bric-a-brac, and walls covered in thousands of skewed black-and-white glossies featuring obscure celebrities (like Suzanne Heyward’s stunt double), there isn’t a square foot in the restaurant that doesn’t have a curio.
The food is the apogee of comfort food. A Shirley Temple ordered there probably has little pieces of Shirley Temple in it, it’s that authentic. Then there’s the Carolina Moons, the perfect flash-fried amalgamation of cheese and bacon and fried taters that’s so comfortable, it’s like eating a couch. Of particular fame are their seven-cheese Bubble Bread and Orange Crunch Cake, a moist yellow cake layered with almond brown sugar crunch and coated in an orange cream cheese frosting.
The theme of the Bubble Room isn’t Christmas, it is that you have died and now you’re with your grandparents in the afterlife.