Ben's Tribute To Clearwater's Fabled
Kapok Tree Restaurant
Clearwater's Kapok Tree restaurant closed in 1991. Known more for its lavish decor than its menu, the sprawling complex could serve 4,000 guests daily in twelve dining rooms and lounges. It was an international tourist destination, complete with souvenirs and gift shops. It was more than a restaurant...

Kapok Tree Inn, Clearwater, Florida, 1957 - 1991
This web site is dedicated to the memory of the Kapok Tree Inn,
and those who built, maintained, enjoyed, and preserve it.

Grand Ballroom and Balcony Dining Room

The Concept 
The Kapok Tree concept was a simple one: serve common food in an uncommon setting. And what a setting! The restaurant's massive dining rooms featured classical columns, imported statues, Victorian fountains, antique paintings, and sparkling chandeliers, all tastefully accented with vines and tropical plants. And, as if that were not enough, the whole restaurant was surrounded by fantastic formal gardens where guests could stroll with a drink before or after dinner.
Dinner at the Kapok Tree wasn't about the food, although the food was good. It was about the decor, the ambience, the completely over-the-top elegance of the place. When you brought someone to the Kapok Tree, you were saying, "You are special to me", but equally, "I enjoy the finer things in life."
The Story 
The Kapok Tree opened in December 1957 near an already-popular tourist attraction, the huge kapok tree on the outskirts of Clearwater. The restaurant's popularity grew until four similar restaurants were opened across Florida. Then in 1988 the Kapok Tree unexpectedly filed for bankruptcy. All but the Clearwater restaurant closed, and it too succumbed in 1991. Today the complex lives on in the form of three distinct businesses.

The Walking Tour
Explore The Restaurant
Entrance Mall, Red Lounge, Florida Room, Chandelier Room, Grand Ballroom, Patio Room, Gallery Room
Stroll The Gardens
North (Italian) Garden, East (Formal) Garden, South (Tropical) Garden, West (Kapok Tree) Garden
Take a step back in time: click either photo to begin



Special Features and Exhibits

The Kapok Tree and Me

Personal recollections

Kapok Tree History

From my research

Going Back

A guide for returning visitors

The Kapok Tree Chain

Including Baumgardner's
and Peter Pan Inns

Show and Tell Gallery

Donations received from visitors

Odds & Ends

Credits, Tree Facts, Giftshop,
Unsolved Mysteries



The Kapok Tree Today
Yes, the fancy rooms, formal gardens, and the great tree are still there. Today the former Kapok Tree complex is home to three businesses that maintain and preserve the buildings and gardens. The management and staff of Sam Ash Music are generally tolerant of nostalgic tourists with cameras, Kapok Special Events less so. Please be respectful of their business needs. Oh, and you'll have to eat elsewhere.

Musical instrument megastore

Music instruction

Weddings, proms, reunions
923 McMullen Booth Rd.
Clearwater, FL   33759
If you live in the greater Tampa Bay area, please support
the businesses that make their home at the former Kapok Tree.


"Country Dinners served beside Florida's Famous
Kapok Tree in the midst of exotic tropical gardens."

The menu choices were ham, fried chicken, fried shrimp or T-bone steak. All came with roasted potatoes, hush-puppies, green peas served family style and a lazy susan relish tray with creamy cole slaw and famous apple butter.

Open the Guest Book
In 2005, when I couldn't find any web sites devoted to the Kapok Tree restaurant, I assembled this site myself using pictures from eBay. After much Internet research, and some eBay purchases, I upgraded the site in 2008. I hope to keep adding to it as new information comes to light.

Please take a moment to share your Kapok memories, info, questions, or comments. My email is below, or just leave a note in the Guest Book. I'd love to hear from you!

UPDATE: April 4, 2013 - Well for starters, I've been too busy to add updates to this site the way I planned. I have been flooded with emails, which is a good thing, but it means I am very slow to reply to them. Unscrupulous people have copied whole sections of this website and posted it on the Internet as if it were their own work. And today I had to shut down the Guest Book because of relentless spammers in China.
So enough complaining. The response to this website has been truly amazing. I thank everyone for their kind words and encouragement, and really wish I could reply to each of you. I will keep this site on-line as long as I can afford to. Long live the Kapok Tree Inn, and long live those who cherish and preserve its memory!

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Thank you for visiting!
We hope you enjoyed this tribute to Clearwater's Kapok Tree Inn.

© Copyright 2005, 2008, 2010 by Ben Mancine