From left to right: John Banyas, owner of Cortez Bait & Seafood, Inc., Kim McVey, Vice President, and Louis Apolinar, Dock Supervisor.
John Banyas is a fourth generation fisherman from Cortez, Florida. His grandfather used to build boats here. His family came here from North Carolina in the early 1900’s searching for mullet and mullet has made Cortez what it is. He grew up eating mullet, his mom grew up eating mullet and his great grandfather lived to be 98 eating mullet….so there must be something to it! Boats, water, wind & fish have permeated his life. He grew up fishing and surfing and listening to his grandfather’s fishing stories and from high school on, he has never stopped fishing. After his grandfather, whom N.E. Taylor Boatworks Company is named after, passed away, John set out to catch bait and mullet in earnest. John has been fishing and working ever since. Nothing was handed down to him, not even the fishing boats and his hard work and dedication has given him the nickname of “baron of Cortez”.
Banyas purchased his working fish house in 1996 which now has an expanded third floor with an updated facade. Inside the old fish house, he expanded the blast-freezer and added another freezer and constructed new loading docks for processing fish off the incoming boats. He owns two bait boats and one stone crab boat. This expansion was made possible by relocating his Cortez Bait & Seafood Retail Market, to 12110 Cortez Road, formally a laundromat in the strip mall. Killer Bait came into the picture as his own personal bait brand around 15 years ago, flash frozen and packaged straight off the boats as they arrive at the Cortez dock. In addition to Cortez Bait & Seafood, he resurrected his grandfathers boatworks business in 2004. It is a full service boatyard with an 80-ton travel lift that can haul out just about anything that can float. The banquet hall he and his mother ran for years on the same property as Cortez Bait & Seafood Inc. has become the Swordfish Grill & Tiki Bar, another successful business for this entrepreneur.