Waldo's Restaurant at The Historic Driftwood Resort
Waldo Sexton arrived in Vero Beach in the 1920's and proceeded to build the Driftwood Inn, one of the most extraordinary structures in the South. Sexton, founder of McKee's Jungle Attractions, also in Vero Beach, built his sprawling dream of cypress logs and pecky-cypress paneling from the swamps around the Blue Cypress Lake about 26 miles away. Townspeople who remembered the 1930's describe Sexton pacing up and down the beach shouting verbal instructions to the crews, who worked by voice command only, without plans. The result was a two-story hotel with balconies everywhere surrounded by pole railings with turned or peeled-log supports.
Nothing seems to be square or level, and the main porch eases itself through shifts in level a little like a frozen wave. Once Sexton finished the inn, he began to fill it, inside and out, with a, mish-mash of objects ranging from ships' wheels to cannons and from early Italian chests to plush sofas, gleaned from every corner of the state and as far away as Europe. The Driftwood affectionately calls this the ''Menagerie of Monstrosities.'' Certainly the most famous part of this menagerie is the vast collection of bells. Some were purchased from missions in Mexico, others once graced such proud locomotives as Old 97 of Virginia or the local line that ran to Key West. One of the bells belonged to Harriet Beecher Stowe. Anyone is free to ring a bell or two when the spirit moves them. In earlier days at the Driftwood, one’s popularity could be judged by the number of bells rung upon departure.