Francisco “Pancho”, a local Captain and fisherman, was born in the neighboring state, Michoacan. When Pancho was just a kid, his parents decided to move their family of 11 to Sayulita, Nayarit, where other Michoacan friends and family had been migrating for a more peaceful life and better opportunities. Pancho's first job in Sayulita, along with his mom, aunts and cousins was as a waiter at Chocobanana (hence his nickname “Pancho Banana”, from the association with the restaurant!). Pancho was then recruited to join Allycat as they were starting their boat charter business. He learned everything about boats from Darrin Rath and the Gonzales family and worked as Allycat's Captain for over 15 years. After a decade and a half, he decided to start his own boating venture, Banana Sport Fishing.
Around this time he met Emily, a native of Indianapolis that had spent the last decade in Washington, DC as an international development consultant on education and entrepreneurship focused on the LATAMC region. Emily grew up with a mixed Mexican-American family and has spent a lifetime building bridges between the two countries professionally and personally. She’d been working across Mexico on various initiatives for six years before making the full-time move to Sayulita.
Pancho and Emily were growing Banana Sport Fishing, hosting hundreds of tourists on the beautiful Banderas Bay for fishing, beach-hopping and whale watching, when the opportunity arose to extend the experience they were creating for customers on the water, to land, by opening a restaurant! They made the difficult decision to sell the boat business and invest in their next chapter as a couple (and finally give Pancho his land legs back)— The Dock Sayulita!
Pancho and Emily are inspired by and in awe of the beauty of Banderas Bay. They lean into their years experimenting with fresh food they would make for clients straight out of the ocean— fish, octopus, lobster, oysters etc. and wanted to translate that Sayulita lifestyle and ethos of locally sourced food to their restaurant. All of their fish and produce is delivered daily and sourced locally.
There were many setbacks in the two-year process to open The Dock, so while Pancho and Emily were waiting for construction and permits, they opened the first iteration of the restaurant, a ceviche and cocktail bar under a tent on the beach in front of where the restaurant now stands. Daily, they loaded up the bar into a pick-up truck at their home in San Ignacio (5 minutes outside of Sayulita) drove it over to the beach, set it up and served clients then packed it up for the night and headed back to San Ignacio. Needless to say, it was a dream come true to slowly see each piece of the permanent restaurant come into existence— the 3-meter-high ocean-view deck, the patio, kitchen, Parota wood bars, and white stone finishes. They could hardly believe it when the very first customers wandered in asking to buy something!!
They credit their community for help and encouragement along the way— The Dock has a little piece of all their Sayulita friends and family who spent some time sanding, painting, researching, snapping photos, promoting or just continuing to encourage them!
The Dock menu focuses on seafood and steak with a few international and Mediterranean options. The Dock clientele favorites? The whole Hauchinango (sea bass) lightly fried, tuna sashimi, Land and Sea with 8oz. filet mignon and lobster or the Captain’s Selection— a tasting of every seafood on the menu! Our most popular cocktails are the Pancho Banana— banana-maracuyá with rum and a cinnamon-sugar rim, Garden Margarita— freshly-pressed carrot juice made into a margarita and La Jimena, named after our local surfing bestie who loves watermelon!
The Dock has quickly become a popular wedding and events venue— already hosting dozens of wedding welcome parties, rehearsal dinners and birthday parties! They’re looking forward to hosting their first wedding at the venue next year.
The Dock is a haven of tranquility and friendliness in the busy-ness of Sayulita. Pancho and Emily see The Dock as a perfect balance of their lives and dreams that they’ve blended together and want it to be known as a “meet-up” spot in Sayulita— a place where all the different types of people who wander through this Pueblo Mágico can gather for a date night, a special event, a work meeting or a beach day! The Dock provides full food and beverage service to the umbrellas and lounge chairs below. They will also soon be opening a lounge area on the beach to provide more dining options to guests.
In addition to serving the freshest seafood and cocktails, Pancho and Emily are passionate about The Dock’s social impact mission, supporting their local school in San Ignacio. Each year, around the holidays, they ask guests to help them collect school supplies and learning material for the very under-resourced school to help alleviate the burden on the teachers, families and principal. Last year, The Dock community was able to help the school start a library and this year in addition to many other supplies and materials, they’re able to help set-up a minimal “tech lab” with the very first computers for students in the school. As Sayulita/Bahía de Banderas continues to grow, Pancho and Emily hope to see local students have the resources and skill set to participate and take ownership in that economic growth.