The Emer ald Coast Maga zine
Cool Music Hot Spots From Jazzy Joints to Boogying Back Yards, We Donâ€™t Miss a Beat When it Comes to Unconventional Music Venues
Renovated and refreshed, six waterfront restaurants serve up new delicious dishes Mom-and-pop shops: Small businesses making a big impact The Emerald Coastâ€™s emerging generation of movers and shakers
PLUS: Your 2013 Best of The Emerald Coast Reader Ballot on p. 72
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contents Dennis and Brenda Ray “sell” old-style charm at The Little Big Store in DeFuniak Springs.
Photo By Scott Holstein
F E AT UR ES
HE CHARM OF MOM56 TAND-POP SHOPS
Three local family owned-andoperated businesses share their stories and secrets to long-term success. By Zandra Wolfgram
64 twelve OVERACHIEVERS — ALL UNDER 40!
Twelve accomplished Emerald Coasters you should know. By Linda Kleindienst
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
in the e.c. 19 Snapshot Caricature artist Deano Minton draws on his life experience. 21 Editor’s Choice Laying claim. Courts hinge BP cash drawers back open. 25 Personality These hospitality consultants Russell-up five-star service. 29 Chat The Jim Moran Institute gets down to business. 33 Scene New news on the EC? We have it for you.
happenings 35 Spotlight Walk right this way for a historic event in downtown Fort Walton Beach. 36 Culture These cool hot spots are music to our ears. 44 Calendar Let us fill your social calendar with sizzling summer events. 47 Social Studies Our sights were set on who was out and about on the EC. It just may be you!
the good life 81 Eudaimonia An evening your entire family will treasure … aboard the Buccaneer. 82 In Motion Our own Scott Holstein gives us a crash course in kiteboarding.
89 Habitat Celeste Cobena is cleaning up at the Seaside Farmer’s Market. 93 Gardening Rain gardens, rain gardens … right this way! 103 F YI What to do (and not do) to get those crazy great deals on Craigslist. 106 F lavor We dish up six recently renewed waterfront-dining restaurants. How delish! 112 A Taste for ... We are just tickled to learn how to pickle. 114 Dining Let us guide you to savor the flavors of the Emerald Coast.
A word with You 12 From the Publisher 14 Editor’s Note 17 Feedback 122 The Last Word
82 8 June–July 2013
72 Best of the Emerald Coast Ballot 96 Deal Estate
Follow us @emeraldcoastmag
Like us at facebook.com/emeraldcoast
Photos By Jacqueline Ward Images (p. 106), Gabriel Hanway (p. 82)
85 Giving Back EC Top Salon makeover gives this winning model a new outlook on life.
Remembering the past Seeing the future. Our world is changing. Again. Because we live in one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions, the need for a partner to guide you through this historical transformation has never been greater. With more than a century of combined experience, the law ﬁrm of Matthews & Jones provides legal services across Florida’s Great Northwest. We are an integral part of our area’s economic development initiatives and offer representation in the ﬁelds of corporate and business law, capital restructuring, estate planning/probate, commercial litigation, real estate, land use, personal injury, criminal defense and family law. Matthews & Jones: Remembering the past, seeing the future.
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Vol. 14, No. 3 Juneâ€“July 2013 The Emerald Coast Magazine
Brian E. Rowland
sion of u F e reativ & Gifts! C e h n T Desig
34940 Emerald Coast Parkway, Suite 114 Destin next door to Ulta & Michaels
Director of Editorial Services Linda Kleindienst Editor Zandra Wolfgram Staff Writer Jason Dehart Editorial Coordinator Laura Bradley Contributing Writers Chay D. Baxley, Susan Benton, Laura Bradley, Jason Dehart, Scott Holstein, Ashley Kahn, Linda Kleindienst, Tracy Louthain, Audrey Post, Anne Schultz, Zandra Wolfgram Editorial Intern Chay D. Baxley Prepress Specialist Melinda Lanigan
Creative Director Lawrence Davidson Assistant Creative Director Saige Roberts Senior Graphic Designer Jennifer Ekrut Graphic Designers Lizzie Moore, Laura Patrick, Shruti Shah Production Manager/Network Administrator Daniel Vitter Staff Photographer Scott Holstein Contributing Photographers Lawrence Davidson, Gabriel Hanway, Rhonda Lynn Murray, Kay Phelan, Kansas Pitts Photography, Shelly Swanger Photography, Jacqueline Ward Images, Zandra Wolfgram, Allison Yii
SALES AND MARKETING
Marketing and Sales Manager McKenzie Burleigh Director of New Business Daniel Parisi Traffic Coordinator Lisa Sostre Sales Executives Rhonda Lynn Murray, Darla Harrison, Tracy Mulligan, Chris St. John
Special Projects and EVENTS
Special Projects And Events Manager Caroline Conway Special Projects And Events Coordinator Lynda Belcher
Administrative Services Managers Emily Bohnstengel, Melissa Tease Accounting Specialist Tabby Hamilton, Josh Faulds Receptionists Chay D. Baxley, Mary Elizabeth Bosco, Kimber Fraley, Jazmeen Sule
Social Media/Systems Management Specialist Carlin Trammel
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One Year (6 issues) is $30 Call (850) 878-0554 or go online to emeraldcoastmagazine.com Single copies are $3.95 Purchase at Barnes and Noble in Destin and Books-A-Million in Destin and at Sun Plaza in Mary Esther.
Editorial Office 1932 Miccosukee Road, Tallahassee, FL, 32308 Customer Service & Submissions EC Magazine and Rowland Publishing, Inc. are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged but will not be returned. EC Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright June 2013 Emerald Coast Magazine Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or part without written permission is prohibited.
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from the publisher Here’s To You, Rhonda!
— Brian Rowland firstname.lastname@example.org
12 June–July 2013
on the cover
Bassist Edwin Lanier, who performs as EdMo at the Beal Street Bottle Club in Fort Walton Beach, has been jamming in juke joints for nearly 40 years. When he isn’t making music on stage, you can find him giving lessons in the EdMo School of Bass to the next generation of music lovers. Photography by Shelly Swanger
Photos By Kay Phelan (wedding) ANd Scott Holstein (Rowland)
As is the case with most entrepreneurial firms, finding the right people is a top priority at Rowland Publishing. Medium and small businesses do not have the luxury of corporate America, which employs teams of human resource professionals, consultants and head hunters to comb through scores of qualified individuals to find the right talent to fit in with their corporate needs and culture. We have to do it by good networking and interview procedures along with that feeling in the gut you get during the in-person meeting. A decade ago, EC Magazine was looking to add a new sales person who could represent our company’s interests 150 miles away from the home office. I fortunately knew Susan Shaw, who was teaching at the then Okaloosa-Walton Community College and was well acquainted with the network of young professionals in the area. I reached out, and Susan immediately insisted I interview a particular young lady. A few days later I did indeed meet with this person at a local coffee shop. After an hour of good dialogue, I knew this package of “raw talent” was exactly the type of person that EC Magazine needed to take us to the next level in the market. And Rhonda Chaloupka has been with the company since that time, watching out for our interests, a standard bearer for this magazine and a great source of pride. April 6, my wife, Cherie, and I traveled to the Emerald Coast and are proud to be celebrating a major milestone with her — her marriage to another dynamic young professional, James Murray (who goes by “Shorty”) and is the general manager for The Solaris dining yacht Rhonda and in Miramar Beach as well as The Sunventure, a Shorty on their wedding day new dolphin cruise boat. As the leader of a small company with a number of loyal, longtime employees, it is a great source of pride to see these men and women grow, mature and become leaders in their industry and community. I view their accomplishments with the pride of an entrepreneur who has chosen his hires well, but there is also more than a tinge of paternal pride as I watch them mature personally. Rhonda has been a market leader for our EC Magazine since the day she was hired. I’ve watched her grow, and I know that her poise and professionalism has been instrumental in the long-standing success of this magazine. I am so proud and happy for Rhonda and James, and I wish them much joy as they begin their life’s journey together. And I am happy that I can share a small moment of pride with her father. As you read through this issue of EC, I hope you enjoy our feature on some other impressive young people in our region who are making a significant impact in their community and the business world. These local “Under 40” stars are, like Rhonda, our leaders of tomorrow, and we are grateful that they live and work in the EC.
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com Juneâ€“July 2013
editor’s note Stories in this issue gave me an excuse to hit the road to meet some of the most interesting and kind-hearted families with deep roots in Fort Walton Beach, DeFuniak Springs and Destin. One of the joys of writing for a local “city” magazine is the many opportunities to head out of the office and into the living rooms, kitchens, art studios and shops of all kinds of interesting folks living all across the Emerald Coast. Unlike other media formats, magazines are wonderful because you are given some creative liberty … and space to tell a story. At the risk of my journalistic integrity, I admit I might take things a little farther than most, by saying I often fall a little in love with those who “star” in my stories. When someone is giving you the honor of revealing their passions, their dreams and sharing intimate details of their personal journey through life — it’s heartwarming. I was not surprised when Dennis Ray, the dapper proprietor of the Little Big Store, and his beautiful bride, Brenda, tugged at my heartstrings. What I wasn’t expecting was to be totally smitten by the town, too. Yes, I’ve been to DeFuniak Springs. In fact, walking around the Christmas Reflections light display is an annual family tradition. But I have to confess I hadn’t really considered the town from the perspective of the folks who live there … until I interviewed the Rays. From behind the shop’s worn, wooden counter (reclaimed from the original Big Store circa 1903) they shared their passion for historic preservation made so clear in “old time” touches around the store, not to mention the restaurant and the Victorian home and garden they also have thoughtfully restored. But the Rays’ artful avocation is just the start of what gives this quaint town such a strong sense of place: The rare round lake serving as the centerpiece to the town, the L&N train depot-turned heritage museum, the lovely library (the oldest in the state,) and, of course, the grand Hotel DeFuniak. What a great town. What great history. What a great love story. Dennis Ray is a well-educated, talented and accomplished academician. He could have settled anywhere after he retired in 1993. He came back home to DeFuniak Springs, and all three of his businesses and, maybe even more impressive, his way of doing business. All are certain to leave a lasting legacy. This past winter, I moved to Main Street, quite literally. I’ve lived in 14 cities all across the United States during my lifetime. I’ve lived in the inner city, the ’burbs and in the country. And, because of the bighearted families such as the Rays, the Rings (who own The Buccaneer in Fort Walton Beach) and the Wilsons (who own The Zoo Gallery in Grayton Beach and Destin), and so many other pioneering spirits behind our treasured small businesses, I couldn’t be happier right here in “small-town USA.” Our towns may be small here on the Emerald Coast, but our shops are filled with big hearted “moms and pops” with personality plus. What’s not to love?
—Z andra Wolfgram email@example.com
14 June–July 2013
editor’s picks Armed with Inspiration Two local kids have brought “friendship bracelets” to a whole new level. Tween designers Mackenzie and Payton Brundage are the creative force behind Peace Passion Positivity Inspirational Bracelets — handmade bracelets sporting inspirational messages. To order them, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (850) 217-0534. Here’s to wearing your heart on your sleeve. You go girls!
Relaying Our Thanks During spring 2012, volunteers and staff from the Emerald Coast Unit of the American Cancer Society held four Relay For Life events in Okaloosa County raising $524,560. This earned them the noteworthy title of becoming the No. 1 per capita for Relay For Life in the nation for funds raised. Teams of friends, family and co-workers camp out at their local high schools or fairgrounds and take turns walking or running around a track because cancer never sleeps and, for one night, neither do the stalwart relayers. Kudos and heartfelt thanks to these dedicated event chairs: Susan O’Neil (Fort Walton Beach), Krystal Jackson (Crestview), Dr. Ralf Zapata (Niceville) and Trevia Buckner (Destin).
Photo By Allison Yii (Wolfgram) ANd Courtesy Sydney Bassett (Bracelets)
I Love Big Hearted Little Towns
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com Juneâ€“July 2013
Thank you to our valued clients for voting us “Best Accounting Firm”
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feedback Have a thought? Let us know what you think at editor@emeraldcoastmagazine. com, facebook.com/emeraldcoast or through twitter @emeraldcoastmag.
We just saw the wonderful article in EC Magazine. Thanks so much for all the kind words (about Christy) and Kansas’ [Pitts Photography] pictures were awesome. You did a great job covering all the outstanding students. Sincerely,
Mike and Gail Allen Fort Walton Beach
I am just now reading the Editor’s Note you wrote on our League’s signature project, the Child Clothing Project [February/March 2013]. It was a lovely picture you painted of the event we host for those wonderful and deserving children. Thank you for attending our event and for shedding some light on the need in our community for this service. Thank you,
Rachel Bartek Morrison President, Junior League of the Emerald Coast
Great EC as usual!
Erin Martin Destin
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com The new EC Magazine website … your source for the best the Emerald Coast has to offer »A complete list of all current and past “Best Of the Emerald Coast” winners, as voted by our readers »A new “Deal Estate” section, with property listings and information about buying and selling real estate »D ynamic photo galleries showcasing our area’s premier events and fundraisers »A n all-new searchable and sortable guide to the top dining establishments along the Emerald Coast » The area’s most comprehensive calendar of community events, gatherings and entertainment »A searchable archive of past EC Magazine issues » Our latest digital flipbook » P lus, more stories, photos and exclusive behind-the-scenes web content Matt Williams EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
18 Juneâ€“July 2013
in the e.c.
Peopl e + St y le + H y p e
Caricatures with Character
Bay County caricaturist Deano Minton likens his artistic technique to his personality: “I think I’m fairly gentle and a little naive,” Minton said. “I like to see and instill joy.” Noting the success of local caricaturists during his stay in Florence, Italy, Minton practiced overnight, hoping to earn extra spending money. The next day, he drew his first subject. “I was so nervous … I forgot to draw teeth in her mouth,” he recalled. After about 36 years of practice, Minton now does three caricature styles: miniature outline sketches, larger black and white caricatures with ink and wash, and full color. From March to the end of October, Minton works at HarborWalk Village on the Destin Harbor every day starting at noon. During winter, weekends only. He also works parties, conventions and other large gatherings. Minton prefers organic inspiration to pre-planning, capturing subjects’ personalities. He asks about hobbies and interests first, determining the action in the caricature and sometimes even facial expressions. Once, this approach proved prophetic. After listening to Billy Bob Thornton describe his independent film project, “Sling Blade,” Minton drew him with an Oscar in his hand — a great story now, since the film actually won Best Adapted Screenplay. — Laura Bradley
Photo by Scott Holstein
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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Healing Financial Wounds Inflicted by BP Little-known settlement reopens the claims process to thousands of non-coastal businesses to recover losses from the 2010 oil spill By Linda Kleindienst
good portion of Matt Turner’s business involves working with the marine industry. When the BP oil spill happened in 2010, most of that work evaporated. But Turner didn’t think he had a cause of action against the oil giant, because his business is located in Tallahassee. “We do a lot of aluminum welding on boats and trailers and stainless work that is directly connected with the marine industry. For a whole year, that part of the business was nonexistent. The work dried up because of fears of what effect the oil spill would have,” said Turner, of Metal Fabrication & Sales. “My business is located 45 minutes from the coast, so I thought I would just have to take it on the chin.” But a federal judge in Louisiana has given business owners like Turner a new chance to file a claim against BP for financial damages they sustained as a result of the oil spill. And they have until April 2014 to make that claim to tap into more than $13 billion in BP damages funds.
Oil and Your Business Under this new claims process, approved by a federal judge in November, businesses do not have to prove that BP was directly responsible or the direct causation of their revenue losses. Instead, it is a black and white, numbers-driven process. A court-drawn map has created a geographic area around the Gulf of Mexico — if your business is located within that area, you are eligible to file a claim, although the test for eligibility grows a tad tougher the further from the coast you are. The map includes all of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, certain counties in Texas and all of Northwest Florida, from Escambia County on the west to Perry on the east, then down the Gulf Coast. It does not include inland areas like Orlando or any of the state’s east coast areas. Those eligible include anyone with a federal tax ID, including nonprofits and charities. The money businesses might win back from BP could have a “real economic impact” on the region, said Scott
All of Northwest Florida is included in a court-drawn map that determines which businesses can still file a claim against BP, but the closer you are to the coast, the easier your claim will be to prove. Only coastal counties south of Perry are eligible.
Carruthers, head of Carruthers Law Group, which has offices in Tallahassee and Santa Rosa Beach. “The ultimate value of this fund is $13 billion. Imagine what Northwest Florida’s portion of that money could do.” Among his clients, who are scattered across Northwest Florida, are a car dealership, construction companies, restaurants, contractors, a pool builder and nearly 200 seafood workers living between Destin and Apalachicola. “And what I’m finding now is that there are many more businesses eligible for settlements away from the coast,” said Carruthers, whose biggest client so far is an Internet company. The 1,200-page settlement is online at the courtsanctioned website deepwaterhorizoneconomicsettlement. com. (By contrast, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka ObamaCare, is 906 pages). There is a map of the zones and a way for you to plug in your address to figure out what zone you’re in. That’s just the beginning of a long process. Laments Carruthers, “They don’t make it easy.” Determining Eligibility Any business operating at the time of the oil spill has a potentially viable claim. But the eligibility is based on
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
revenues — and the financial test gets a little tougher the further away the business is located from the coast. First of all, businesses cannot be in an excluded industry. That includes gaming, real estate developers, banks and other financial institutions, insurance companies and any business that previously signed a Gulf Coast Claims Facility release with BP, as well as governments. However, Canita Gunter Peterson, tax shareholder with Thomas Howell Ferguson, has been getting multiple inquiries daily from businesses curious if they might qualify. “Individuals may think that industries such as seafood and hotels are the only ones covered,” she said. “But almost any business could qualify for significant compensation, such as lawyers, accountants, retail establishments, almost any category of business. This is a oncein-a-lifetime settlement.” Startup businesses with less than 18 months of operating history as of the date of the oil spill also are potentially eligible for compensation. “The settlement has good features, but there are some limitations,” Carruthers explained. “One of those limitations is that BP only recognizes that it created an impact on business from May to December 2010. If your loss continued beyond or started after, this settlement does nothing for you.” The court-supervised settlement basically says that the closer a business is to the Gulf, the easier it is to prove loss. Wherever it is located, it needs to have the revenue numbers to back up the claim. For instance, in Zone D, which includes Tallahassee, businesses must show a consecutive three-month, 15 percent
22 June–July 2013
‘‘ Scott Carruthers is working to inform Northwest Florida businesses about their right to file claims against BP. “And what I’m finding now is that there are many more businesses eligible for settlements away from the coast.”
The money businesses might win back from BP could have a ‘real economic impact’ on the region. The ultimate value of this fund is $13 billion. Imagine what Northwest Florida’s portion of that money could do.” — Scott Carruthers, head of Carruthers Law Group
Photo by Scott Holstein
decline in gross revenue between May and December 2010 as compared to 2009. Then, they must show a 10 percent rebound for those same three months in 2011. The amount of decline in gross revenue drops the closer a business is to the coast. Gathering Financials The ease of meeting the mathematical equation to be considered for compensation depends on how good your financial recordkeeping has been. At Thomas Howell Ferguson, they are asking businesses to provide records of their net monthly revenue from 2007 through 2011 to first see if they meet the causation test. “We can run initial calculations to see if they have met the nexus,” Peterson said, adding that her firm does that at no charge. “If they haven’t met it, they don’t have to worry about getting more data.” For those who can go further in the process, it’s important to know BP has the ability to appeal any calculation greater than $25,000. A three-judge panel will rule on the appeal. “BP has filed a significant number of appeals,” said Peterson. “If you don’t submit the right documentation — or what you have doesn’t reconcile back to the claim — you’ll probably have problems.” Basically, it hinges on monthly profit and loss statements. The larger the claim, the more financial documentation will be required and the slower the process is likely to be. Other Claim Avenues Dana Matthews, senior partner with the Matthews Jones & Hawkins law firm in Destin, is bypassing the court-supervised settlement, opting instead to have his clients file a claim directly against BP under the federal Oil Pollution Act. The only problem there is the short time frame left to file. The deadline was April 19, 2013 — a problem if you haven’t already started the process. As for the court-supervised settlement, he said, “The problem is … whatever the class settlement provides you, you have to accept. If you get a denial, you have no recourse. If you file a $100,000 claim and you get $5,000, you have to accept it.” Of course, it isn’t easy for anyone to really understand filing under the Oil Pollution Act and meet the deadline that’s coming on like a runaway freight train. “This has been one of the most masterful public relations manipulations of the American public conscience that BP has been able to orchestrate,” Matthews said. “The information is buried in the BP website. It doesn’t state the date.” MJ&H is working with about 250 claimants at this point and has been fielding hundreds of calls from potential clients. One client owned a surgery center along Interstate 10. The lion’s share of the center’s business came from out-of-state and overseas. Their marketing tool was to encourage patients to come for surgery and then convalesce on the beach. But after the oil spill, the patients didn’t come and the center shut down because it couldn’t pay its bills. Carruthers is considering filing some of his clients’ claims under Florida’s Oil Protection Act, which has a four-year statute of limitations, pushing the deadline to file to April 2014. (The federal OPA has a three-year statute of limitation.) An added benefit to filing under the Florida law — the polluter must pay attorneys’ fees. “It’s kind of a Hail Mary, frankly, but it could have a substantial impact on businesses that didn’t know about the (2013) federal deadline,” he said. ec
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Russell & Russell tap resources, global experience for hospitality clients
he Emerald Coast may be a thriving tourist destination, but a tour along Highway 98 does not include many full-service brand hotels … yet. Business partners and luxury-brand hoteliers John Russell and Scott Russell hope to have a (white-gloved) hand in shaping the future of hospitality in the area. And for these hotel industry veterans, the future is now. “The hotel market is underserved here, and we think that’s going to change. We would be well positioned to be on the ground with our background in the industry to assist those new developments,” John Russell says. “We can ensure those operations have success, and therefore those visitors have a great experience, which brings even more business to the area,” Scott Russell adds. John, 56, and Scott, 51, founded their Emerald Coast-based hospitality management company, Russell & Russell, in March 2012. The former executives of
Photo by Scott Holstein
By Zandra Wolfgram
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort are not related, but after working together on and off for 15 years the congenial colleagues are as close as brothers. A tag-team approach to their consulting businesses allows each to make good use of their measurable hotel experience gained from 30-year careers highlighted by leadership roles at Ritz-Carlton. John tackles property management operation issues and number crunching, while Scott primarily focuses on building integrated sales and marketing strategies and mapping out the resources needed to deploy them. For clients like Keith Howard, president and chief executive officer of the Howard Group, which owns and operates both the Courtyard by Marriott Sandestin and Residence Inn by Marriott Sandestin at Grand Boulevard, a firm like Russell & Russell elevates the entire destination. “John and Scott give us a much higher level of experience in the hospitality area. To have
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
personality them come here with their Ritz-Carlton experience isn’t something we were attracting even a few years ago. There is a lot of opportunity in and outside of this market for them, and we are thrilled they have offices right here in Grand Boulevard and look forward to watching them grow.” The “If You Build It They Will Come” mentality is one neither Russell subscribes to. Keeping a hotel full calls for hands-on professionals with five-star experience. “Sure anyone can open a hotel and have success, but not many know how to create a culture of service to compete at the highest levels … that’s where we can be of service,” John offers. “You have to understand both the customer and the market, and that we do.” They also understand that “who you know” can literally open doors, putting a start-up business on the fast track. “I feel the biggest asset anyone has is their circle of influence,” Scott says. “I was able to maintain a very strong circle of influence nationally, so when word got out that I was forming my own company, work followed.” The word definitely got to Kate Harth, senior vice president of sales and
26 June–July 2013
revenue management for Morgan’s Hotel Group based in New York. Harth has known Scott Russell for more than 10 years. And when this hotel heavy hitter needed a “deep dive” look at the ROI (return on investment) for her global sales organization, she says there was only
A brand is a promise. I believe everything you do boils back to your brand, and if you truly understand the importance of branding, you’re going to be successful.” — Scott Russell
one person in her Rolodex she trusted for the task. “I have been in this business for 25 years, so I could have called a lot of people. I called Scott, because I knew I would get results, communication and candor,” she says.
Beyond the bottom line there is one particular intangible highly valued by hotel executives such as Harth: the human element. “We have a great relationship; Scott is able to be an extension of our team. He is able to wear the Morgan’s Hotel group hat, because he knows the business,” Harth says. Making a human connection is what attracted both Scott and John to hospitality careers. Interestingly, but maybe not surprisingly, it was a false start for both of them. For Scott, working in personnel became way too personal, leading to sleepless nights over fellow employee issues. He tried on sales and found a better fit. He also found success; quickly moving up through the ranks of Ritz-Carlton to an executive role responsible for sales and training worldwide. For hands-on John, the “desk job” kept him from the very folks he wanted to relate to. He found more sure footing to his career path after landing a spot in the esteemed Hyatt Hotels Management Training Program. It clearly suited him. Out of a 275-member class, he was the first to be promoted to general manager. It was a role he served in eight of the 19 hotels
he worked in during his three-decade career, which took him to Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Savannah (twice), New York City and even a few plum overseas spots such as Bali, where he first met Scott, who was vacationing at the Ritz-Carlton there. Though travel is a true passion for Scott, this globetrotter admits one of the attractions to relocate to the Emerald Coast was the opportunity to decrease his time on the road and increase time with his family, who lives in Baton Rouge. Still, he is grateful for the career opportunities that have exposed him to diverse world cultures and shaped him into a forward thinker. “When you are trained in a corporate culture, you are not worried about today, you are thinking about the years ahead. And that is still what drives me and gives me the impetus to stay ahead,” Scott explains. “If we are not on top of what’s going in our industry, we don’t have value for our customers.” Russell & Russell is clearly focused on what business owners value most: results. Since forming in March 2012, the duo claim all of their clients have enjoyed doubledigit revenue increases. On their satisfied local client list is Matt Lindley, a management consultant for Santa Rosa Golf & Beach Club, who hired Russell & Russell to rebrand and market the Club last summer. “The creative is fresh and different but still applicable to the brand of the club. We got a great return on all of our promotions and ad placements, and we are up 45 percent in revenue, so the numbers speak for themselves,” Lindley says. Positive ledgers also speak to a seamless partnership, which Lindley sums up this way: “They play off of each other well. Scott sells the dream, and John works the nightmare.” Though single minded in their business goals, the two friends with the same last name are distinctly different. John is an avid reader and sports-minded Midwesterner, who lives to work but is happy to hunker down at home with his wife and dogs. Scott, on the other hand, is a party-giver and musical theater junkie who bought a second house to hold his frequent family visitors. He works to live. Both share a passion for great hotels, good wine and being engaged in the community, including work with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, which John serves as president. The stakes are high for any new start-up business, but for John — an ardent student of author/speaker Steven Covey — it’s all in how you approach a challenge that defines a company’s culture. “There is a difference between stress and pressure. Stress is a negative, and pressure is a positive. I always saw my role to de-stress an environment, but to keep pressure on,” he says. For Scott, the core of any successful individual or company comes down to one thing: branding. “A brand is a promise. I believe everything you do boils back to your brand, and if you truly understand the importance of branding, you’re going to be successful.” To ensure success for Russell & Russell, John will employ his favorite adage: “Sign your work.” For this self-described workaholic, when you work, you should work hard, work smart and have pride in what you do. “We’re going to give all we have, and at the end of it we’re going to feel good about it because it’s going to be good enough for our signature.” ec EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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Big Vision for Small Business FSU’s Jim Moran Institute offers new direction for North Florida Entrepreneurs By Ashley Kahn
he Jim Moran Institute for Global Entrepreneurship is getting down to business. Housed in Florida State University’s College of Business, the center with a legacy of leadership will shift its focus to a more programmatic approach when it launches its Small Business Executive Program this summer. The plan falls under the direction of business consultant Mike Campbell, hired in November 2012 to execute new outreach initiatives in North Florida. Designed to help existing businesses advance by addressing today’s key issues, the nine-session series is just one component of the JMI’s vision for the future of business in our region. Outreach has always been a cornerstone of the Institute. Now, a new path will be charted to expand that platform, reach more people and make an even greater impact in North Florida — and beyond. Current director F. Randy Blass said the 18-year-old Institute continues its local legacy while trying to reach a global audience. “From the start, our outreach was one-on-one, gold standard, very personal,” Blass said. “But that model is very time intensive, limiting the number of clients we were able to serve, so we started looking at how we could reach a broader audience.”
Photo by Scott Holstein
Mike Campbell, hired to expand the outreach initiatives of the Jim Moran Institute, says helping businesses grow will lead to the hiring of more employees and improve the overall economy of the Northwest Florida region.
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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30 June–July 2013
chat Get with the Program The Small Business Executive Program (SBEP) will pool community resources to give executives of established businesses — not start-ups — the tools they need to grow. Sam Varn, owner of Awards4U, has been affiliated with the JMI since 2001. He got involved through former director Jerry Osteryoung, a member of his Rotary club. “What really works is not theoretical or textbook, but real-world application,” Varn says. “After the JMI analyzed our business, we got our expenses under control, and in 2004, we were Entrepreneur of the Year. The advice was good, and we paid attention.” The SBEP will accept applications for its inaugural class of 25 business leaders in June 2013, with an anticipated first session slated for the fall. Nine sessions will be presented every other week over four months, for a total of 40 contact hours. Businesses must have three or more employees to apply. Both for- and nonprofit organizations will be considered. Application information (beginning in June), guidelines and eligibility are detailed online at nfl.jmi.fsu.edu. Though the Small Business Executive Program will be held in Tallahassee, its director invites any business in the 850 region to apply. Attendance is mandatory for two half-day sessions each month from August to October, with a closing luncheon in November tying directly into the “Advice Straight Up” event featurAfter the JMI ing nationally recognized speakers. “Because the program meets only analyzed our twice a month,” Campbell said, “if business, an executive is willing to come to we got our our location to advance their business — and they are in the 850 reexpenses gion and they qualify to participate under control, — we will welcome them.”
and in 2004, we were Entrepreneur of the Year. The advice was good, and we paid attention.”
A Tri-fold Mission The SBEP will be the flagship program and the primary entry point for small businesses to the broader services the JMI has to offer. Those services are trifold and reflect the main components of the Institute’s mission — education, research and outreach. Education cov— Sam Varn, ers the student experience, research owner of Awards4U examines issues of the discipline and outreach provides unique opportunities for students to engage in crossover with working entrepreneurs. Jim Moran Institute programs revolve around four major service offerings: » World-class education and experiential learning curriculum »A cademic research and applied training »C onsulting assistance and mentorship »P ublic recognition through service “We interpreted the need by recognizing our business owners are so busy running their business, they don’t always have time to think about their business,” Blass said. “They are asking for some structure — a formatted journey through all aspects of running a business.” ec
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32 June–July 2013
well worded scene This is a little of what we’ve seen and heard while out and about on the EC … Malibu Jack’s Surf Grill
NEW NEWS … ▪ The scoop is Malibu Jack’s is serving up yummy ice cream and other cool treats on Highway 98 in Destin. ▪ The owners of Rock Hard and The Grayt Cafe are joining forces to open the Grayton Coffee House at Rock Hard’s Monet Monet location. ▪ Seaside has formed the Seaside Visitors Bureau. It allows those who reserve accommodations through it to enjoy free bicycle rental and the assurance that they are booking through an official Seaside lodging partner. Current partners include the Cottage Rental Agency, Homeowner’s Collection and Sunburst Luxury Collection.
Photos courtesy Mailbu Jack’s Surf Grill (restaurant and smoothies), Shaye Smith (Billingsley), Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce (Hamrick) and Destin Area Chamber of Commerce (Windes)
CONGRATULATIONS AND KUDOS … ▪ Zach Billingsley, executive director at Children’s Volunteer Health Network, was chosen Young Alumni Achievement Award winner by the Huntingdon College National Alumni Association. Billingsley This award honors the early successes and distinguished achievements of a nominated alumni who is 35 years of age or younger. NEW FACES … ▪ Members of the newly installed 2013 Destin Chamber executive committee include: Chairman Mary Anne Windes; Chairman-elect Amy Perry; immediate past chair, Bill Lindsley; treasurer, Shaun Eubanks; vice chairman/communications Windes and marketing, Julie Cotton; vice chairman/community & economic development, Karen McCarthy; vice chairman/membership development, Ken Wampler; and vice chairman/Harbor Association, Jami Jones. ▪ Mark Hamrick, incoming president of the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce, recently introduced his 2013 leadership team: Martin Owen, immediate past chair; Tammy McGaughy, treasurer; and Ron Grissom 2014 chairelect. The vice chairs of the Chamber’s Hamrick four divisions are L.A. Woodall (business development); Toni Richardson (membership); Nick Chubb (government); and Ron Grissom (special events). ec
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Economical. Convenient. Painless. 34 Juneâ€“July 2013
happenings Events + Culture + Causes
Walk This Way
Every Friday throughout the year you can up your fun factor by heading to downtown Fort Walton Beach. For the past couple of years what used to be called Camp Walton has been recreating its historic district into a thriving, happening hub. Beginning at 5:30 p.m. you can stroll the historic district and visit with merchants from participating shops and restaurants while enjoying art demonstrations, live music, complimentary refreshments and special discounts. The Art Walk, created by shop owners involved in the Downtown Merchant Association, gives locals and visitors alike an opportunity to sample goods while getting better acquainted with their neighborhood shop owners. This season shop owners are growing the event by encouraging sidewalk sales and adding a Farmer’s Market. For more information on how you can take part in Fort Walton Beach’s Art Walk festivities, contact Jennifer Bundrick at firstname.lastname@example.org. — Zandra Wolfgram
Photo by Scott Holstein
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
Hot Spot Williams Backyard boogie
36 Juneâ€“July 2013
With a Twist
Photo by Shelly swanger Photography
From jazzy joints to boogying back yards, the Emerald Coast doesnâ€™t miss a beat when it comes to unconventional music venues By Tracy Louthain
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For 18 summers Concerts in the Village have been a local tradition with families and friends looking to enjoy a variety of live music and picnic suppers under the stars.
ure, YouTube, iTunes and a growing number of online sites allow audiences to watch, listen and download, but there is no substitute for hearing the artists’ personal stories, feeling the pulsating bass or being entranced by soulful vocals during a live performance. The Emerald Coast is packed with gifted singers, songwriters and musicians. Yet these talented artists often go undiscovered or forgotten without a place to showcase their talent. Luckily, there are individuals along the coast who give artists a stage to connect with the music-loving public. We’ve highlighted three unique venues, which feel more like a friend’s party than a concert venue. Guests bring their own beverages and are welcomed like family. By night’s end, there is hardly a stranger in the room (or on the lawn, as the case may be).
Photo by Lawrence Davidson
Concerts in the Village
Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation (MKAF) was one of the first to present live outdoor concerts in Okaloosa County. Since the organization’s inception in 1995, MKAF began featuring bands at the Kelly Plantation Outdoor Theatre on Sundays. “We were one of the first venues to feature many local bands, including Dread Clampitt and Jones & Company,” says MKAF Executive Director Marcia Hull. “We used music to connect the community. It became so popular, we moved it to Thursday night and had to find a larger venue.” As luck would have it, MKAF inherited 52 acres of land from the late Destin Matriarch Mattie Kelly for use as a cultural center, and the outdoor concert series was moved to the site. The concert series has continued to grow. This year, it is expanding to a 10-week series and is now coined Concerts in the Village, reflecting the new venue within the Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, which includes the Dugas Pavilion and expanded Village Green. “The concert series has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings,” says Hull. “It is quite the social event. It is a place where old friends and families catch up, new friends are made and professionals EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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vibe enjoy networking within a casual atmosphere while enjoying incredible music under the stars.” Attendees arrive with their lawn chairs, picnic baskets and favorite libations. Meals are available on-site through partner restaurants, such as Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q and Carrabba’s Italian Grill. Guests may also purchase a table as part of the Picnic Supper Club to ensure a regular spot close to the action. “Usually by the end, people are up dancing,” says Hull. “It is a music party for all ages.” From jazz and blues to classic rock and country to reggae and R&B, the 2013 lineup includes local favorites such as Heritage, Deja’Vu and David Seering, as well as regional acts including Reflections with Ron Adams and the Craig Woolard Band. Destin local Susan Moody quipped in her Emerald Coast Insider blog, “Concerts in the Park are as American as apple pie and Fourth of July. From classic rock to pop, funk and soul and everything in between, the concerts provide a great soundtrack for your summer.”
Photos by Shelly swanger Photography
Williams Backyard Boogie
In contrast to the Cultural Arts Village’s wide-open space, Williams Backyard Boogie is an intimate outdoor venue in Santa Rosa Beach within Forrest William’s backyard. “I felt like we needed a platform for local musicians to perform and tell their story,” explains the modest owner, Forrest Williams. “My goal is to give the artists and the community a quality experience.” Williams Backyard Boogie, which opened in May 2012, is a venue built by musicians for musicians. The backyard, which can comfortably seat 100 to 150 people, ensures everyone has an up-close and personal experience. With a songwriter-style format, the bands are invited to tell stories and do whatever comes naturally during their performance. “Forrest says we can do anything we want, which is a little dangerous,” teases Tony Verecchia, lead singer for the band Heritage at a recent performance. “In all seriousness, we are thankful for this opportunity. It’s about how the music makes you feel, that song that touches you.” The performances at the Backyard Boogie could be compared to watching world-class talent in a friend’s backyard. The casually intimate setting allows audience members to feel as if they got to know the band personally by the end of the performance. Guests bring their lawn chairs, snacks and beverage of choice and Williams provides the setting and the talent. Artists perform on an
Williams Backyard Boogie has grown into a popular casual concert venue that has showcased all kinds of musical talent, including bands like Heritage (above left) and jawns with singer-songwriter duos like Bryan Kennedy and guitarist Scott Rockwood (above right).
expansive wooden stage with a tall, pitched roof, which is surrounded by long leaf pines. White lights twinkle from poles and trees, candle lanterns flank each side of the stage and Tiki torches pepper the perimeter, creating a warm and friendly atmosphere. For those who wish to purchase dinner, Grayt Coffee features fresh made sandwiches and chips to satiate hungry guests. “The setting is wonderful,” shares Buzz Livingston, a regular visitor to the Backyard. “Last time I was here, the moon was rising through the pine trees over the stage. With the music playing, it was simply magical.” Shows are scheduled approximately once a month and this summer Williams hopes to showcase local bands as well as have his band backup some of the talented local solo artists. “Giving back to the community is what sustains us,” says Williams, who grew up in the hills of Arkansas and began strumming a guitar at age 14 and never put it down. EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
Gwen D’Vyne owner/host of the Beal Street Bottle Club brings “the fun.” Sax player Al Alvarado and bassist EdMo Lanier (left) get this juke joint jamming.
Mattie Kelly Arts Foundation
Concerts in the Village $8 per adult/$15 per couple Children (12 and under) free mattiekellyartsfoundation.org (850) 650-2226
Williams Backyard Boogie
$20 donation Find them on Facebook at /Williams-Backyard-Boogie (850) 502-6448
Beal Street Bottle Club
$10 cover/$5 after midnight $30 monthly membership available bealstreetbottleclub.com (850) 642-2221 42 June–July 2013
“At Beal Street Bottle Club, you bring the bottle, we’ll bring the fun,” Club Owner/Host Gwen Lanier — whose stage name is Gwen D’Vyne — promises over the microphone. Located in an unassuming strip center in Fort Walton Beach, Beal Street Bottle Club is a hot spot for live jazz, blues and BBQ. While Beal Street Deli is open for lunch, the Bottle Club is focused on music. “We opened a bottle club because it’s all about the music and fostering local talent,” shares a passionate Lanier, who co-owns Beal Street with her husband, Edwin Lanier, who performs as EdMo. “Performing live allows you to really share your craft, connect with the audience and even give some impromptu sets that really show what you’re all about.” Celebrating three years in July, Beal Street features a regular lineup of jazz and blues on Friday and Saturday, and each month’s schedule is sprinkled with talented local musicians and bands. Wednesday night is Family Jam, in which families (ages 12 and older with a parent) are encouraged to come out and jam with the band. “We invite young talent to come and play with old guys,” says Lanier. “It’s incredible.” It was a great opportunity for Choctawhatchee High School student, Josh Carter, who after a few Wednesday performances was asked to play with the band during their Saturday night gig. “We don’t practice,” says Carter after a recent performance. “You just feel it. It feels completely comfortable, like you’re playing in your living room.” The cozy setting ensures there is not a bad seat in the house, and meeting the musicians is welcomed activity after the show. In fact, the whole club is teaming with talent, and you never know who may jump in on the next set. There is even an “Express Yourself” night in which singers, dancers, poets, improv performers and anyone with a talent is invited to perform. With its juke joint-style decor, Beal Street Bottle Club is decked out with local artwork and a fabulously funky collection of handmade lamp shades decorated in everything from feathers and flowers to beads and ornaments. The decor is festive and original. Guests bring in their own bottle, while servers bring out $5 buckets of ice and offer a variety of mixers. The diverse menu includes deli-style sandwiches, ranging from po-boys and paninis to Cubans and reubens, making certain no one leaves hungry. The club’s T-shirt says it best, “Music, Love & Good Mojo.” ec
Photos by Shelly swanger Photography
Beal Street Bottle Club
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com Juneâ€“July 2013
thecalendar june + july
The Baytowne Marina transforms into an exciting showplace for hundreds of hopeful anglers during the Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at Sandestin. (Below) The crew of the Done Deal, a 56-foot Viking from Fairhope, Ala., sealed the deal and a new record by luring in a 783.6-pound Blue Marlin in 2012.
June 19–23 Fishing around for some fun this summer? The 11th Annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic at the Baytowne Marina at Sandestin is scheduled for June 19–23. Hundreds of anglers from across the country will test their luck and lines to lure in the likes of blue marlin, white marlin, sailfish, spearfish, tuna, dolphin and wahoo in what has become one of the hottest tournaments on the Emerald Coast. With a purse upwards of $1 million, it is also the richest tournament on the Gulf. In fact, it is ranked by Marlin magazine as one of the Top 10 Big Money Tournaments in the world. The nearly 90 boats entered into the competition aren’t the only ones who are sure to reel in some excitement and fun. The four-day tournament is packed with family-friendly activities, special events and lively sponsor exhibits. The real excitement happens on Friday and Saturday evening when crowds gather at Baytowne Marina dock for the big weigh-ins. What crew will land the big one? Will it be enough to break a tournament record? These are the nail-biting moments that you do not want to miss. ECBC is a key stop for the World Billfish Series and the International Game Fish Association’s Offshore Championship and is a supporter of The Billfish Foundation. Harvest House, a local charity, is also a beneficiary of the event. For more information on this year’s event, visit either fishecbc.com or sandestin.com/events.
44 June–July 2013
Photo courtesy Joe Maloney and Pensacolastudios.com (Running of the Bulls) and Sandestin Golf and Beach resort (Blue Marlin)
Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic
Compiled by Laura Bradley and Zandra Wolfgram For more events in the EC, visit emeraldcoastmagazine.com.
Fiesta de San Fermin and Running of the Bulls July 18–20 Seville Quarter in downtown Pensacola hosts one of the Pensacola Bay Area’s newest — and certainly quirkiest — events, called the “Fiesta de San Fermín en Pensacola.” This fun event blends Pensacola’s rich Spanish history and culture, paying homage to the Fiesta de San Fermín held in Pamplona, Spain, every year. It even includes the very daring tradition of the Spanish “encierro,” or Bull Run — but don’t reach for your red cape just yet, the bulls are represented by members of the roller-derby team, the Pensacola Roller Gurlz, armed with wiffle bats! The real fun begins on Saturday at 9 a.m. as the “bulls” on roller skates are set loose on the streets of Pensacola. Runners wear white — shirts, pants or shorts and a red bandana or cloth around their necks or waists. If you want to run with the big bulls, you need to be mindful of the rules: • Run at your own risk • Do not touch the bulls • If you go down, stay down • Do not stand still Children under 10 (and/or those who don’t want to be hit) use the sidewalk. During the festivities you can enjoy Spanish music, food and drink at this free annual family-friendly event in Seville Quarter located at 130 E. Government St. in downtown Pensacola. Now that’s one red-hot event. Olé! For more information visit sevillequarter.com/events.
Mondays through Aug. 19
James and the Giant Peach’ Roald Dahl’s classic tale is faithfully told by James himself and the insect characters — Miss Spider, Old-Green-Grasshopper, Centipede, Ladybird and Earthworm. FREE. Seaside Lyceum, 104 Smolian Circle, Seaside. 6:30 p.m. seasiderep.org
Tuesdays through July 30
Little Red Tuesdays for Tots Toddler art-making creates Gulf Coastinspired mixed media masterpieces. Ages 20 months to 4 years old and parent/caregiver. $20. 1777 E. County Highway. 30A, Suite 101, WaterColor. 9–10 a.m. (850) 231-5520
Tuesdays through July 30
Pardi Gras Who wants some beads? Join in all summer long as HarborWalk Village transforms into “The Big Easy” every Tuesday night. Enjoy dazzling floats, beads, the Village Brass Band, stilt walkers, jugglers and excitement around every corner during this free parade through HarborWalk Village. FREE. 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. 6:30 p.m. (850) 424-0600, emeraldgrande.com
Tuesdays and Fridays through Aug. 9
Once Upon a Thyme in Rosemary Beach Stop by and hear tales told in Rosemary. FREE. South Barrett Square , Rosemary Beach. 10 a.m. seasiderep.org
Wednesdays through July 31
Awkward Oxen Improv Workshop Come out and experience a fun way to learn
improvisational theatre with on-the-spot games, scenes and songs including audience participation. FREE. Fonville Press, County Highway 30A, Alys Beach. 2 p.m. seasiderep.org
Wednesdays through July 31
Wednesday Night Concert Series The Village will be tantalizing your musical taste buds with musicians to entertain guests. FREE. The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach. 7–9 p.m. (866) 912-3224, baytownewharf.com
Thursdays through July 3
Concerts in the Village This 10-week outdoor concert series will feature local and regional touring artists performing everything from Motown, rhythm and blues, jazz, modern country, classic and modern rock, to reggae and tribute bands. Singer/Entertainer David Seering will perform July 3 for the final concert. Bring a lawn chair, picnic and wine or purchase dinner prepared onsite each week by a featured restaurant. $8 for adults, FREE for children under 12. Dugas Pavilion & Village Green, Mattie Kelly Cultural Arts Village, 4323 Commons Drive West, Destin. 7 p.m. (850) 650-2226, mattiekellyartsfoundation.org
Thursdays through July 25
Red, White and Blue Celebration The celebration honors local heroes who go above and beyond to better their community. Enjoy live entertainment, face painting, free kids’ crafts and a WWII replica flyover. The evening is topped off by a spectacular
fireworks display over the Destin Harbor. FREE. 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. 6:30 p.m., fireworks at 8:30 p.m. (850) 424-0600, emeraldgrande.com/event.aspx
Mondays and Thursdays through Aug. 8
Adventures in Alys Beach Fun stories told by the beach. FREE. Fonville Press, County Highway 30A, Alys Beach. 10 a.m. seasiderep.org
Saturdays through July 27
Rock the Docks Boogie on over to this music fest at HarborWalk Village, where local groups will perform live every Saturday night. FREE. 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. 7 p.m. (850) 424-0600, emeraldgrande.com/event.aspx
Saturdays and Sundays through July 28
Mixed Doubles Round Robins Sandestin’s tennis staff welcomes all levels of participation in their round robin tennis tournament events. RSVP due to limited space and possible time change, email@example.com. $30 public rate, $25 for resort guests, includes balls, drinks, prizes and court time. Sandestin Tennis Center, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach. Saturday 10 a.m. for all levels, Sunday 9 a.m. for all levels. (850) 267-7060, sandestin.com/tennis
May 31–June 1
58th Annual Billy Bowlegs Pirate Festival Ahoy, mateys! Come to Fort Walton Beach and enjoy some family-friendly pirate fun EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
thecalendar with a world-famous pirate skirmish! FREE. The Landing, 139 Brooks St., Fort Walton Beach. 10 a.m.–9 p.m. festival, 3–5 p.m. skirmish. (850) 244-8191, billybowlegspiratefestival.com
Art in Public Places In June, the Friends of the Coastal Branch Library will be depicting fabric art and displaying quilts made from featured artist Mary Zahner. FREE. The Coastal Branch Library, 437 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (850) 267-2809, focbl.com
ADSO Window Art In June, the works of Rachel and Ollie Strawbridge, working in photography and oils, respectively, will be on display in the studio windows of the Art Center, fronting First Street. FREE. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. 24 hours. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
June 3–July 25
Junior Tennis Quick Start Junior tennis camps that range from USTA QuickStart Tennis beginners to future collegiate athletes. Tuesdays and Thursdays are for children ages 5–8. Mondays and Wednesdays for ages 8–10. Email your child’s name, age and desired clinic dates to firstname.lastname@example.org. $15 for resort guests, $10 for locals/members. Sandestin Tennis Center, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach. Mon–Thu 4–5 p.m. (850) 267-7060, sandestin.com
June 3–July 27
Adult Tennis Clinics Enjoy a high-energy workout as you learn the fundamentals of tennis. One participant per 30 minutes, two participants per 45 minutes, three or more participants per one hour. Must RSVP due to limited space and possible time change, email@example.com. $25 per person. Sandestin Tennis Center, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach. 9–10 a.m. Mon–Sat, (850) 267-7060, sandestin.com/tennis
June 3–Aug. 16
Stories by the Sea Bring the kids out to Stories by the Sea for nautical, whimsical fun. FREE. Lyceum Archway, Seaside. Mon–Fri, 4 p.m. seasiderep.org
ADSO Annual Calendar Show The members’ annual show from which the year’s calendar pictures are selected. Reception Friday June 7, 6–8 p.m. FREE. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. Tue–Fri noon–4 p.m., Saturday 1–4 p.m. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
June 5–Aug. 7
The Amazing Adventures of the Marvelous Monkey King The mischievous Chinese superhero The Monkey King comes to life in this energetic and charming play where Chinese Opera and hip-hop collide. Sponsored by The Merchants of Rosemary Beach. FREE. North Barrett Square, Rosemary Beach. 6:30 p.m. seasiderep.org
46 June–July 2013
Walk Her Way A one-mile high heel strut for men, women, children and dogs to benefit Shelter House and Rosemary Beach Foundation. Walkers stroll around the Rosemary Beach Town Center in fabulously decorated heels to raise awareness about domestic violence. Walkers will receive a T-shirt and be treated to a celebration concert at the end of the walk. $30 per adult, $15 per child 12 and under. Rosemary Beach Town Center. Registration opens 5 p.m., walk at 6 p.m. (850) 243-1201, walkherway.com
Sandestin Wine Festival April 18–21, 2013 Wine lovers mixed, mingled, sipped and sampled their way through a four-day tasting in The Village of Baytowne Wharf at Sandestin that featured celebrity guest, Paula Deen, the “Queen of Southern Cuisine.” Photos by Rhonda Murray
Paula Deen and Andy Saczynski (Walton County Artist of the Year)
Mary Fossbender and Tavia Carlson
Scott Russell, Lydia Smith and James Murray
Sarah and Bryan Stone
Lori and Michael DeLoach
Judd and Penny Jackson
Stephanie Ockunzzi and Enzo Culiolo EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
“Les Misérables” July 17–20 & 25–27 Set in early 19th-century France, “Les Misérables” tells the story of Jean Valjean, a burly French peasant of abnormal strength and potentially violent nature, and his quest for redemption after serving 19 years in jail for having stolen a loaf of bread for his starving sister’s child. Northwest Florida State College will stage the Broadway blockbuster musical with a cast from our local area. The show marks the final production to be directed by Dr. Cliff Herron, long-time dean of the college’s arts programs, who will retire at the end of August. Based on the historical French novel by Victor Hugo, the original London Production featuring the Royal Shakespeare Company was staged by musical theater icon Cameron Mackintosh in 1985 becoming an immediate sensation. There have been many adaptations of the tender and suspenseful story, including a recent film also directed by Mackintosh starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried and Anne Hathaway, who gave an Oscar-winning performance. The movie has made the gripping saga a smash hit all over again. All performances are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for youth ages 18 and younger and may be purchased in-person, by phone or web from the box office at (850) 729-6000 or mattiekellyartscenter.org.
Digital Graffiti Festival Experience the world’s first outdoor projection art festival, with artists using the latest technologies to create original works that are then projected across the town’s iconic white walls. Adults are $50 Friday night, $100 Saturday night, $20 for children 12 and under, Friday night. Alys Beach, 9581 East County Highway. 30A. 8:30–11 p.m. Friday, 6:30–8:30 p.m. Meet Me at the Red Carpet Saturday; 8:30–midnight Saturday. (866) 481-8930, digitalgraffiti.com Wealth and Wisdom Series An informative seminar series presented by Brian Haugen and Steve Cann from Emerald Coast Wealth Advisors. With guest speakers ranging from Estate Planning attorneys and CPAs, to physicians and local historians, these interactive, social meetings occur on the second Wednesday of each month with refreshments provided. FREE. Vue on 30A, 4801 W. County Highway 30A Santa Rosa Beach. 8:30–9:30 a.m. (850) 650-0990, raymondjames.com/ecwa
June 10–Aug. 16
Ultimate Summer Camp Ultimate Summer Camp is for children ages 5-12 and runs Monday through Friday with exciting field trips each and every 48 June–July 2013
Photo courtesy Les Misérables
June 12, July 10
Opening Night for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” March 9, 2013. Before Northwest Florida Ballet’s magical production of Shakespeare’s enchanting romantic comedy, friends of the ballet gathered in the McIllroy Gallery to mix and mingle with artistic director Todd Eric Allen and choreographer Katia Garza. Photos by Zandra Wolfgram
Katia Garza and Kevin Greene
Jeff Welsh, Robert and Angelina Baerga
Debby Cain and Megan Kleinhelter
Sinfonia Gulf Coast’s “Bond & Beyond” Gala March 23, 2013. Guest conductor Michael Krajewski and Tony award-winning Broadway songstress Debbie Gravitte wowed gala goers with a music concert that celebrated some of the most memorable James Bond film music over the past 50 years. We spied many Emerald Coasters having a golden time at the symphony’s “007” season finale. Photos by Zandra Wolfgram
Sheila Vaughn and Heidi Immler
Shaye Smith and Dave Palmer
Tiffany Clemons and Brittany Byrd
Demetria McNeese and Wanda Duke
Inez Drixelius, Otmar Yakaboski and Lucie Beasley EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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thecalendar Friday. Children will enjoy structured activities all week including karate, gymnastics, kids’ yoga, Nerf wars and art projects by Abrakadoodle. $145–$165 per week. Resolute Martial Arts, 995 Airport Road, Destin. 9 a.m.–3 p.m., early drop off 7:30 a.m., late pickup 6 p.m. (850) 797-4434, kidssummercampdestin.com
June 13–Aug. 3
The Hound of the Baskervilles Conan Doyle’s most celebrated Sherlock Holmes story gets a gloriously funny makeover. $35. The Seaside Rep Theatre, 216 Quincy Circle, Seaside. 7:30 p.m. seasiderep.org
6th Annual National Flip Flop Day Tropical Smoothie Café celebrates the anniversary of their most popular event: National Flip Flop Day! Free Jetty Punch smoothies to guests wearing flip-flops, and games and activities for all ages to raise money for Camp Sunshine, an organization that helps children with life-threatening illnesses and their families make magical memories. FREE. HarborWalk Village Tropical Smoothie, 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. All day. (850) 424-0600, emeraldgrande.com
June 14, 21 & July 5, 19
Awkward Oxen Improv Hour An interactive, fast-paced comedy show that’s fun for the whole family and groups of all ages. The Awkward Oxen also ask “willing volunteers” to join them for a game or two each performance. FREE. Fonville Press, County 30A, Alys Beach. 2 p.m., seasiderep.org
Father’s Day Class for Preschoolers Dads and the kiddos can enjoy a little quality time creating the perfect Father’s Day masterpiece signed by Dad and his little artist. Ages 2–5. $20. Destin Commons, 4300 Legendary Drive, Destin. 9:30–10:30 a.m. (850) 424-5058.
June 17–23 & July 15–19
ADSO Kids’ Fine Art Camp The Arts and Design Society offers visual arts summer camp for kids. Classes feature a different medium each day, including clay artistry, drawing, painting and printmaking. Each week ends with an art show and reception for the families, during the second half of each of Friday’s class sessions. Pre-registration is required by June 14 for June sessions, and by July 12 for July Sessions. $60 per child for half-day, week-long sessions, $50 for children of ADSO members. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. Ages 6–8, 9:30–11:30 a.m.; ages 9–13 from 1-3 p.m. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
June 17–Aug. 16
Camp Showtime Teaches kids about live theater, performance skills, team building, storytelling and self esteem. Weekly sessions, ages 8 and up. $200. Seaside Meeting Hall Theatre, 216 Quincy Circle, Seaside. Mon–Thu, 10 a.m.–1 p.m. firstname.lastname@example.org
11th Annual Emerald Coast Blue Marlin Classic With $1 million-plus cash purse, this is one of the most popular big game fishing tournaments on the coast. The exciting four-day event includes live entertainment and activities for the kids all weekend long. FREE. The Baytowne Marina at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach. Weigh-ins are Fri–Sun at 4 p.m. (866) 912-3224, fishecbc.com
June 21–Aug. 17
Awkward Oxen Improv Hour An interactive and fast-paced improv comedy show that’s fun for the entire family and groups of all ages. $10. Seaside Meeting Hall Theatre, 216 Quincy Circle, Seaside. Fri and Sat, 10 p.m., seasiderep.org 50 June–July 2013
socialstudies 2013 Emerald Coast Cattle Barons’ Ball March 16, 2013. Locals (two-)stepped up their donations this year raising a record breaking $175,000 for the American Cancer Society. Promenading Western hats and boots, hundreds of locals kicked up their heels to gave cancer “the boot” by dancing, gambling and even paying to “brand the bull” at the Linkside Center at Sandestin, which was beautifully transformed into the “Urban Cowboy Honky Tonk & Dance Hall.” Photos by Zandra Wolfgram
Moses Hayes, C. Joseph Bacani, Richard Naturale and Warren Amos
Chris and Melissa St. John
Mike and Stacey Brady with Steve Dugas
Monique and Jean DeChazal
Julia Dorminy Vijacka EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
thecalendar June 26
ADSO Luncheon Heather Mitchell, prize-winning artist working in colored pencils, much of whose inspiration comes from local wildlife and waters of the area, will be speaker at the ADSO June meeting. Mitchell also specializes in pet portraits. Reserve your spot by June 24. $12. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. 11:30 a.m. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
42nd Annual Pensacola International Billfish Tournament The Pensacola Big Game Fishing Club hosts one of the country’s largest billfish tournaments at NAS Pensacola, which attracts around 600 anglers from all over the Southeast. $860 per boat. Palafox Pier Marina, 997 S. Palafox, Pensacola. Kickoff banquet Thursday 6:30 p.m., weigh-ins Fri 5–8 p.m. and Sat 3–9 p.m., awards Sunday 10 a.m. (850) 453-4638, pbgfc.com
Ronald McDonald Firecracker 5K Enjoy this fun run in downtown Pensacola, and provide much-needed support to the Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida. Call for registration fees. Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St., Pensacola. 7:30 a.m. (850) 477-2273, rmhc-nwfl.org
ADSO Window Displays The works of Ann Forrester will be on display in the studio windows of the Art Center, fronting First Street. FREE. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
Art in Public Places The Friends of the Coastal Branch Library will displaying beautiful acrylic art and photography from local artist Emily Ellis. FREE. The Coastal Branch Library, 437 Greenway Trail, Santa Rosa Beach. 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (850) 267-2809, focbl.com
Smoke on the Coast This event will feature a barbecue cook-off, art projects, face painting, live music, pirate magic, street dancing and a fireworks display. FREE. Destin Commons, 4300 Legendary Drive, Destin. 7–8 p.m. (850) 337-8700, destincommons.com
July 2–Aug. 2
Beyond the Flat Plane: 3-D An art show in which all work must be 3-dimensional, which sometimes takes surprising turns. Reception Friday, July 5, 6–8 p.m. FREE. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. Tue–Fri noon–4 p.m., Sat 1–4 p.m. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
Star Spangled Spectacular at Pier Park Families can enjoy a day filled with live entertainment, children’s activities, tasty food and drinks, as well as a breathtaking fireworks display. The morning will start off with a celebration service at the Veteran’s Memorial Park (adjacent to Aaron Bessant Park). A POPS performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in Aaron Bessant Park with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. FREE. Pier Park, 600 Pier Park Drive, Panama City Beach. 9 a.m.–10 p.m. visitpanamacitybeach.com
Sertoma’s 4th of July Celebration This All-American event, held in downtown Pensacola, is one of the largest 4th of July celebrations on the Gulf Coast. Fireworks can also be seen on Perdido Key and Pensacola Beach. FREE. Seville Square, Downtown Pensacola. Activities 11 a.m.–6:30 p.m. (850) 434-1234, visitpensacola.com 52 June–July 2013
socialstudies Props Wings & Wheels April 19, 2013. Spirits were flying high as guests of Destin Jets and Legendary Marine enjoyed an exciting showcase of exotic and vintage airplanes, cars, boats and choppers. Photos by Rhonda Murray
Elizabeth and Bill Campbell
Fred and Leslie Pace with Wanda Kenton
Bonnie and Bob Perry with Melissa Perry
Hats for Hope March 16, 2013 The Destin’s Women’s Club donned bonnets to kick off spring with a festive charity luncheon and fashion show designed to raise awareness about domestic violence and funds for Shelter House. Photos by Zandra Wolfgram
Wendy Clines, Michelle Sperzel, Monica Talley and Laura Lucy
Georgeia Pappas-Johnson, Lynn Lake and Maggi Grogan
Kim Dettle and Joyce Van Belkum
Sandi Northington McClanahan EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
thecalendar July 4
Red, White and Baytowne Join Sandestin for its spectacular Independence Day celebration. Kids’ activities from 6–10 p.m. to include crafts, face painting and balloon sculpting. Live music will be performed from 6–9 p.m. with a 4th of July fireworks celebration at 9:15 p.m. FREE. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach. 6–10 p.m. (866) 912-3224, baytownewharf.com
July 4th Summer Sale Save on your summer favorites Silver Sands Premium Outlets’ special sale. From July 4 to July 7 enjoy extra discounts on top of the center’s savings of 25 to 65 percent off every day. FREE. Silver Sands Premium Outlets, 10562 Emerald Coast Pkwy., Destin. Mon–Sat 10 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.–6 p.m. (850) 654-9771, premiumoutlets.com/silversands
42nd Annual Pensacola International Billfish Tournament. The Pensacola Big Game Fishing Club hosts one of the country’s largest billfish tournaments at NAS Pensacola, which attracts around 600 anglers from all over the Southeast. Call for entry fee prices. Palafox Pier Marina, 997 S. Palafox, Pensacola. Scales open 3–7 p.m. Saturday and 3–5 p.m. Sunday. (850) 453-4638, pbgfc.com
July 5 Guest Speaker: Melinda Rainey Thompson Author of SWAG: Southern Women Aging Gracefully
Sunday, June 23 • 3–5 p.m. The Home of Judy Byrne Riley 1501 Bayshore Dr., Niceville Join WSRE, with friends and family, for an afternoon tea celebrating the influential and strong female role models that help us laugh, love and lead better lives.
Tickets $40 each, limited seating Purchase online: wsre.org/tea or (850) 484-1054.
100% of proceeds benefit the mission of WSRE, PBS for the Gulf Coast.
Red, White and Blue Friday Night Flick After the sun goes down, enjoy a patriotic movie on the Main Stage. FREE. 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. After dark. (850) 424-0600, emeraldgrande.com/event.aspx
July 17–20 & July 25–27
‘Les Misérables’ Broadway’s biggest smash musical about love and redemption. $25 for adults, $20 for youth ages 18 and younger. Mattie Kelly Arts Center at North Florida State College, 100 College Blvd., Niceville. 7:30 p.m. (850) 729-6000, mattiekellyartscenter.org
Fiesta de San Fermin and Running of the Bulls This showcase of Pensacola’s Spanish history and culture includes a spin on the traditional Encierro. Enjoy Spanish music, food and drink at this annual family-friendly event. FREE, Seville Quarter, 130 E. Government St., Pensacola. 9 a.m. (850) 434-6211, sevillequarter.com
Gallery Night Soak in an eclectic mix of music, art and cuisine in Pensacola’s charming downtown. FREE. Downtown Pensacola. 5–9 p.m. (850) 434-5371, downtownpensacola.com
ADSO Luncheon Helen Harris, president of the Arts and Design Society and teacher of encaustic painting, will show another of her versatile sides, that of Civil War History instructor, as she presents a program on Civil War painter Mark Kunstler. Reserve your spot by July 22. $12. Art Center, 17 First St. S.E., Fort Walton Beach. 11:30 a.m. (850) 244-1271, artsdesignsociety.org
July 29–Aug. 2
SummerWILD Children’s Summer Camps Summer goes wild at HarborWalk Village with Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge. Children in first through sixth grades can spend an exciting week on the Destin Harbor learning about exotic animals and their natural habitats. $150 per child. Second level of HarborWalk Village, Unit 242, 10 Harbor Blvd., Destin. 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Susan Leveille, ECWR Camp Director, (850) 650-1880, sleveille@ecwildliferefuge. com, ecwildliferefuge.com ec 54 June–July 2013
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EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
Let's Talk Shop!
small businesses making a
impact Mom-and-Pop Shops are at the Heart of the Emerald Coast By Zandra Wolfgram // Photos by Scott Holstein
Much of the small-town charm of the Emerald Coast comes from the many memorable “mom-and-pop” shops that dot our coastline. Most of them are one-of-a-kind, independent stores owned and operated by local families who have lovingly nurtured their businesses over many years, some for generations. EC Magazine ventured to Destin, Fort Walton Beach and DeFuniak Springs to talk shop with three quaint places that “cash in” on novel concepts that they “hand deliver” with personality plus.
56 June–July 2013
Juneâ€“July 2013 57
The Art of Retail er artistic eye and his business sense pair perfectly for The Zoo Gallery’s husband and wife business partners Roxie and Chris Wilson. Add in a 38-year marriage, two artistic children (Baxter, 28, and Raven, 25), a shared passion to support American artists and you have a successful retail “love” story. In 1979, the Auburn University grads began ratcheting down their high school teaching careers (she art; he P.E.) in order to rev up their retail dream by traveling to market trade shows, where they solicited advice from fellow retailers and vendors to get started. After two years, they hired a couple of part-time employees, and after five years they were able to quit their jobs and work in their store full time. The early days for the Emerald Coast’s first retail shop were trial and error, but thanks to Roxie’s “eye” for finding novel things and merchandising them in creative displays and Chris’ sales savvy, there wasn’t a whole lot of the latter. Still, they had plenty to learn. “We opened at the end of August in downtown Fort Walton Beach. We had two weeks of business and sat there all winter, so that tells you how much we knew,” Roxie says while shifting some of the colorful bangle bracelets on her slender wrist.
58 June–July 2013
Originally tucked in the back of Fort Walton Beach’s Fountain Square, the shop has migrated east and expanded into three locations: the main location, a stand-alone shop across the street from the Red Bar in Grayton Beach; a large retail space within Grand Boulevard at Sandestin in Miramar Beach; and a discounted outlet store/frame shop on Airport Road in Destin which also servers as the office headquarters. The address has changed over the years, but the retail experience is still a bit of a treasure hunt. The inviting, colorful shops feature an eclectic array of offbeat greeting cards, novel gifts, funky jewelry, zany Zoo T-shirts, lots of original art, artistic home décor, and one-of-a-kind furniture pieces created exclusively for the gallery by artists located all over the country. In recent years, the shop has added clothing. But one thing that hasn’t changed over the years is the shop’s distinctive persona. “The Zoo Gallery is Roxie, it really is,” Chris beams. Roxie, a mixed water media artist, had to temper her passion in order to make a go of her business. “I found out real quick, if I just had a fine art or fine craft gallery, I wouldn’t have made it. I wanted the store to be artistic but still needed to make a living,” she says. “I may absolutely love a hand-blown glass piece, but now I have to ask, ‘Will it retail?’” After 34 years, the husband-wife team still are excited to travel to Atlanta, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York to reconnect with their longtime artist friends while hunting for the next season’s treasures. “Keeping things fresh and new is key,” Chris says. Another is understanding how to do business in a seasonal tourist town. “You only sell four Baxter, Chris and months out of the year, Roxie Wilson at The Zoo Gallery shop in so you really have to Grayton Beach, one buy smart,” Roxie says. of three locations Chris chimes in with a the family has owned and operated since laugh, “Yeah, we’re like it became one of the squirrels putting up first retail businesses on the Emerald nuts for the winter.” Coast in 1975. Leading the “band wagon” of Emerald Coast retailers is something the Wilsons have done well for nearly four decades. “Finding interesting art by great artists, promoting it, making it hot. That’s what we’re good at, and then everyone else gets on it,” Roxie explains. Remember the Sorrelli craze? A Pennsylvania artist founded the company in 1983 and The Zoo Gallery shops carried the colorful Swarovski
Let's Talk Shop!
heirloom jewelry in all of their ads 10 years before it became a hot trend. “When it got popular, demand increased and they started making it in China, then everyone started selling it like The Zoo Gallery Tupperware salesmen, in Grayton and that’s not what we Beach (top); Roxie Wilson's do,” Chris says. “Our personality ‘gold’ is having something shines through no one else has got.” in the Zoo's collection Neon was another first of funky art, the Wilson’s brought to eclectic décor, hand-made their downtown Fort pottery and Walton Beach store whimsical pieces windows in the early by artists such as furniture 1980s. “We had different designer Richard animals in different neon Dunbrack. colors in every window,” Chris recalls. Soon, liquor stores were aglow with neon signs, and so the Wilsons stopped. “We had the cutting edge on a lot of different things,” Chris says, nodding his wavy-haired head and looking at Roxie. “Yeah, we are ‘old school’ cool, that’s what we are,” Roxie says smiling back at her husband. Remaining on the cutting edge means lots of hours in the store. But being hands on is one key to the Wilson’s success. “We work our stores. We take up the slack. We’ve never lived above our means,” Roxie says. Still, the Wilsons can’t imagine doing anything else. “The Zoo Gallery is a dream come true, and I love it to death,” Roxie says. As they enter their 60s, Roxie and Chris are happy that the shop will remain a family affair. Their son, Baxter, an art major, has come aboard full-time. With a refreshed website, active Facebook page and maybe even a computerized inventory system, The Zoo Gallery is a whole new “animal” and the Wilsons couldn’t be more pleased. “He is young, has energy and strong technical skills, and is really going to get our name out there,” Roxie says.
June–July 2013 59
Coke Is It and More at Buccaneer ou know the familiar ad slogan: “Coke adds life.” For the Ring family who owns and operates Buccaneer Gift Shop in Fort Walton Beach, it’s been at the center of their life and how they’ve made their living for 41 years. As his son tells it, Oscar Ring, 72, “was always collecting, wheeling, dealing and ‘picking,’ even when he was in the U.S. Navy.” Oscar and his wife, Anna Lee Ring, began collecting Coke memorabilia for their son, Jeff, when he was young. That just made Jeff thirsty for more. At just 7 years old, in addition to sweeping the shop floors with his sister, Cheryl, he began collecting glass Coke bottles and bottle caps. “It’s how you bought stuff as a kid. They had value,” he recalls. The loquacious, sandyhaired Fort Walton Beach Oscar Ring pictured with native, now 51, recalls his son, Jeff, in front of the scraping together $3.95 and 20-foot Coca-Cola bottle what seemed like thousands that has become a popular photo backdrop for their of bottle caps to send in family-owned collectible for a toy car that would and antique business, the Buccaneer Gift Shop. normally cost $14. As he grew so did his fascination with collectible memorabilia, especially Coke machines. “I started rebuilding and restoring them. I enjoy working on anything with age to it,” he says. The Ring family owns one of the first Coke machines ever produced, a 1937 Mills 47-A. Only 500 were ever made, and today it sells for $15,000 restored, a worth that Ring points out is based a 1999 price guide. “They were green and red with chrome. Look how pretty,” he says, pointing to a photo in a collector’s catalogue. “Hitting one of these is like hitting the lottery.” Coke machines — such as the Cavalier 102 (a Coke machine that has a front door on both sides of it), recently sold for $21,000
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— are the pricier items found in the eclectic curio shop that carries memorabilia of all kinds dating back to the 1800s. Though they sell most of the more expensive items to local and regional restaurants and developers, there is something for nearly every budget, including an old box of wooden rulers each priced at $1.99 and inscribed with a Coke logo on one side and the saying, “Do Unto Others As You’d Have Done to You.” “I pick up a lot of stuff like this from closing stores and plants, because you can sell it for a reasonable price and people like that,” Ring says. According to this collector, age isn’t everything. “Sometimes an item features an anniversary or commemorates something. It’s all about how many were made,” Ring explains. Though his shop has thousands of keepsakes on the shelves, Ring remembers a day not long ago when “picking” was plentiful. “Stuff is getting really hard to find, our contacts are disappearing, it’s really drying up. TV shows like ‘The Pickers’ are making it popular with everyone, and it’s making the prices go up,” he says, shaking his head in disappointment. That might make the free little facts Ring slips to Buccaneer customers even more valuable. As we eyed an old soda bottle with a stopper on it he explained that the first bottles were made with rubber stopper tops connected with a wire. When you pulled out the top it made a popping sound, hence “soda pop.” While admiring an old, Biedenharn soda bottle, the shopkeeper explained that the Biedenharn Candy Company used its profits from Coca-Cola sales to launch Delta Airlines. As for the first bottles of CocaCola to hit the area, he pauses to think, and then says, “I’m pretty sure it’s 1899. I used to know everything cold. I would study catalogues all the time. It was all in here (he tapped his temple), and now, it takes longer,” he says. In the 1980s the entrepreneurial family proudly ran three booming antique and collectible downtown businesses: Pelican’s Pouch, the Coral Reef and the Buccaneer. In the late 1990s they combined the shops. “It’s kind of unusual. I didn’t think it would work, but it did and it did better than I thought it would,” Ring says. If you don’t know the shop, it’s easy to find. There is a 7-foot Coke bottle in the front of the store and one that towers nearly 20 feet high in the back. The ceiling is covered with dozens of pictures snapped of customers posing next to the giant Coke bottle, including one who has been frequenting the store for 40 years. “It’s really all about memories,” Ring says reaching into the cooler to offer me an 8-ounce bottle of ice-cold classic Coke. “It brings back a time when things were laid back and easy.” Yes, for the Ring family, Coke is definitely it. And then some.
Let's Talk Shop!
Jeff Ring can't bottle his pride, when it comes one of his prized possessions, a limited edition, private stock bottle that Coca-Cola made exclusively for the Buccaneer's 35th anniversary; Betty Boop and CocaCola-labeled memorabilia are the most popular collectible items you can buy, sell and trade at the Buccaneer, a Fort Walton Beach fixture since 1972.
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The Timeless Little Big Store s a career professor, Dennis Ray — still quite a dapper Southern gentleman at 82 — usually knows the answer to most questions. But ask him why he returned in 1993 to settle in his hometown of DeFuniak Springs after 35 years away, and he is at a loss to describe just what it is about this particular patch of Florida that has a hold on him. Still, for this lay historical preservationist and his wife, Brenda, who own three businesses in town, serving as shopkeepers of The Little Big Store, an old-time style general store nestled in the heart of downtown DeFuniak, gives them a chance to relive, if not revive, the charming town’s rich past. “We wanted to preserve some of our heritage and at the same time be prosperous in the community,” Dennis Ray tells. “Recreating shops in the old downtown historic district The Little Big Store welcomes is one of the best ways to do it.” locals and The Rays’ first project was renovating visitors to to step back the turn-of-the-century Busy Bee Café in in time for 1992. It proved “a tremendous success,” a shopping which kept the retired couple a little too experience in the “old style.” busy, so they decided to farm out the daily Old oil lamps restaurant operations with the provision and lanterns line sturdy wooden that it remains in the “old style.” shelves and Next, they restored The Big Store on original glass Baldwin Avenue … it wasn’t a first for cases display sweet treats; this antique shop. It actually burned to the Vintage signage ground in 1900 when barrels of turpentine and antique finds give the near the train tracks ignited, setting nearly shop plenty of an entire city block ablaze. The shop was personality; rebuilt in brick in 1903. When the Rays Retro-packaged sundries, foods bought the building they were delighted to and toys fill find it stuffed with old period pieces. They counters, bins promptly put some of the original wooden and baskets. counters and glass display cases back to work holding essential and non-essential sundries when they reopened The Little Big Store located just around the corner on South 8th Street. A tinkling bell signals the steady arrival of patrons coming from near and far, including Canadian Alice Wesseler and Mary Lou Cleary, who ventured to the shop during their winter vacation in Panama City for … pickles. “We found this store last year after we had high tea at Hotel DeFuniak,” Cleary says as she carefully surveys the floor to ceiling shelves stocked with jars and cans. At a request of a friend back at the condo, this pair of snowbirds are on a 126-mile scavenger quest to find the shop’s private label stash of Candied Jalapeños, which she says taste just
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Let's Talk Shop!
like pickles. “Here they are!” Cleary cheers variety” garden tour. A stroll through The signaling her mission is accomplished. Heritage Garden, planted next to their The Rays leave what they call the “brass Victorian home, reveals a rare collection and glass” of modern businesses to others of box wood shrubs amassed over seven making choices that they hope evoke a years from the birthplaces, houses period feel down to Dennis’ “costume” and even tombs of our early founding — a well-worn green eyeshade visor fathers and shaped into the “footprint” paired with a tidy, white apron. “It’s not of Poplar Forest, Thomas Jefferson’s everybody in the world’s cup of tea, but private vacation home in Bedford, Va. It’s I think a lot of people today are seeking a labor of love that the Rays eagerly and out some of the security and the feeling generously share. “I take local students of a slower-paced time and the nostalgia walking through the garden and tell them of what grandma and grandpa did — and about Thomas Jefferson and why he is that keeps us popular.” important to me and the country through That is especially true with one the plants and shrubs,” he says with a particular customer demographic — kids! twinkle in his blue eyes. Though they do not have any of their Their personal passions and popular own, the Rays delight in interacting with businesses keep these two seniors active local children, who come to the store for in their community and on the go. “I penny candy and … if they are lucky, an wouldn’t have it any other way,” Dennis arithmetic lesson from Mr. Ray himself. “I says, “because I need to be needed, to didn’t think they had seen an old store and be at work and have something I’m didn’t figure they’d have an interest in it, responsible for.” ec but they are some of our strongest and most loyal customers,” he says. The math lessons have paid off nicely for Ryan Chilcutt, who is now 20 years old. He runs the place on the weekends so the Rays can take a well-earned break. Their store, restaurant and antique shop are not the only passion projects for this active couple. Their home, lovingly dubbed The Verandas, is meticulously restored to its 1904 grandeur. The Rays, who don period costumes and give tours of their home as part of an annual Home Tour, enjoy the “nostalgic charades of the period,” but they assure that they “don’t live primitively.” When they restored the home’s coalhouse they converted part of it into a laundry room with a modern washer and dryer. The historical figure the Rays most enjoy studying and honoring is Thomas Jefferson. As good teachers do, the Rays have found a novel way to pass along their deep knowledge of early American history in a way that is both fascinating and entertaining — a garden tour. Dennis and Brenda Ray relish sharing their passion Just as their shop isn’t just about for history through their charming general store in downtown DeFuniak Springs. the sale, this isn’t your “garden
Small Businesses Pack a Big Economic Punch Owning a small business is a big deal. In fact, 99.7 percent of all companies in the United States are considered small businesses. This sector employs more than half of all private industry jobs. With double-digit unemployment across the nation, any relief is likely to come from growing small businesses. In fact, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), reports that 64 percent of new jobs created within the past 15 years have been within small businesses. The Small Business Development Center operating in partnership with the University of West Florida is part of the Florida Small Business Development Center Network, a non-profit service organization comprising 34 offices from Pensacola to Key West. The SBDC formed 36 years ago with a mission to provide entrepreneurs and established businesses with the assistance needed to start, grow and succeed, in order to bolster the Florida economy. In Northwest Florida, there are fullservice offices in Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach that service Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties. Beyond its one-to-one, no-cost consultation, the SBDC also offers training in the form of yearround workshops, seminars and brown-bag lunches on the most requested topics, from Starting a Business to Business Taxes: Figuring & Filing. “We work with any client at any level, but we’ve seen this so much, we’ve designed a program to address all the topics they need to think about,” says SBDC associate director Tom Hermanson.
SBDC Workshops Starting a Business, $35 June 6, July 12, 1–4 p.m. Creative Capital Roundtable, $20 June 7, 1–4 p.m. For more information on upcoming workshops and seminars, visit sbdc. uwf.edu or call (850) 833-9400.
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12 Interesting People
Know Meet an emerging new generation of Emerald Coast movers and shakers By Linda Kleindienst // photos by scott holstein From financial advisers to farmers, theyâ€™re young, ambitious and making an economic impact on the many and varied communities of Northwest Florida. You may not yet know their names. But you will. EC Magazine introduces you to 12 impressive people under the age of 40 who live and work all along the Emerald Coast. Every day they are making a difference in the business world and in their communities â€” and prepping themselves to become the leaders of tomorrow. Their impact is already being felt from the halls of higher education to hulls of vacation rental boats. We think you will be interested in their theories of success, their outlook on life and their thoughts about how to improve the outlook for business in Northwest Florida. Some are CEOs of their own companies, some work for others. Many spend their spare time doing charity work, serving on community boards and the Chamber of Commerce, or using their business to help others. Whatever they do for a living, I think you will agree that these Emerald Coasters represent the best of the best, serving as a credit to their communities and the entire region.
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NATHAN BOYLES, 30, Crestview
Attorney, Wine Maker, Entrepreneur, Okaloosa County Commissioner Owner, Nathan D. Boyles P.A. law firm; Owner, Main Street Land Title Company; Owner, Yellow River Winery and Wine Bar
Business Philosophy Fake it until you make it. In my line of work … no two days are alike. I’ve been known to show up for court with my hands still stained blue from processing a load of fresh local blueberries the night before.
Leadership Lesson Be positive, dream big and don’t take yourself too seriously. Otherwise, you’ll begin to think you are more important than you really are, and that’s how you end up on the front page of the newspaper in an orange jumpsuit (or at least that’s what my mom tells me.)
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2&3 Heather & Chris Thomas 36 and 39, Destin
Owners, Destin Vacation Boat Rentals Business Philosophy Be passionate about what you do. Definition of Success For us, success is finding something that you genuinely love to do and learning how to make a living doing it.
What does the future hold? I believe the journey is more important than the destination. Life presents us with so many unique opportunities and adventures, and right now I’m just looking forward to seeing what God has in store for us in the future.
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Photo by Jacqueline Ward Images (2 & 3)
A Lesson Learned Heather: That it’s OK to take risks. I spent a lot of time putting our goals and dreams on hold, because I was afraid of failure.
4 Sabrina McLaughlin 33, Navarre
Higher Education Marketing and Communication Arts Faculty, Navarre Executive Director, Marketing & Creative Services, University of West Florida; Adjunct Faculty, Communication Arts Definition of Success Doing what you love and doing it well. As long as you are living by your own definition, that’s all that matters. Mentors Made a Difference If I were to sum up what so many wonderful mentors have taught me, I would have to say that it is the steadfast truth that your integrity is not a commodity. Your integrity is a precious gift that cannot be replaced, bartered or bought back. A Lesson Learned I have always said that I have learned way more from the things that I have failed at versus anything that put an award on my wall. The most important lesson, however, is reflected by one of my favorite quotes from Maya Angelou: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
5 Jeremy Johnson 31, Gulf Breeze
Real Estate Sales & Community Association Management Broker Associate and Community Association Manager, Island Realty Group of Pensacola Beach My mentor is … Quint Studer, founder of Studer Group and owner of Pensacola Blue Wahoos. I respect his willingness to take risks for the betterment of a community that he believes in and his unwavering commitment to do the right thing. Hardest Lesson Learned Being successful in a tough economic market takes out-of-thebox solutions. You must continually develop your professional skill set and push yourself out of your comfort zone, as this is the only way to grow. If you’re not thinking ahead of the curve, you’re falling behind. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self? The best years of your life are yet to come. Stay focused, work hard, have fun and the rest will fall into place.
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6 Jennifer Conoley 30, Panama City
Economic Development Representative Gulf Power Company Definition of Success Success is setting and achieving goals, all while overcoming life’s obstacles and challenges. Hardest Lesson Learned Don’t be afraid to speak up for what you believe is right. What advice would you give your 16-year-old self? Stop worrying so much! Life has a wonderful way of working itself out — especially when you’re motivated and focused on what’s important to you.
7&8 Brian & Jenna Leigh Burger 31, Fort Walton Beach
Restaurateurs Owners, Tijuana Flats in Fort Walton Beach and Pensacola Definition of Success Setting ambitious goals and then achieving them by leaps and bounds. Hardest Lesson Learned Brian: Method and repetition cannot create customer service, only inspiration can. Inspire your people to love their customers, and they will amaze you. Hope for the Future Jenna Leigh: We should be focused on the retention of young professionals in this community, particularly our military personnel. I feel that creating a hip, trendy and beach-focused community that competes with other municipalities for business and pleasure is the key. Fun Jenna Leigh: We both enjoy the beach, boating, our dogs and camping. Brian is an avid surfer, novice fisherman and brews his own beer. I am a total book nerd. I love to ride my road bike and create new recipes.
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9 Jessica Proffitt 27, Destin
Public Relations and Marketing Professional President, Proffitt PR Definition of Success Learning, earning and yearning. My success is derived from and directly correlates with the success and growth of my clients’ businesses. Hardest Lesson As a young adult, by nature it is easy to be naïve and make quick decisions. I’ve learned to remove myself from a situation and analyze it from afar before coming to a conclusion. I get my inspiration from … My parents. They’re my biggest fans and have instilled me with the drive and determination to be the next president of the United States.
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10 Luke Langford 31, Freeport
Farmer Owner, Cypress Cattle & Produce Co. Definition of Success Personally, it’s preserving our family’s farm and ensuring a comfortable living for myself and my family. Professionally, success means providing more and better local produce and meat, and establishing a business model that shows family farms and young farmers can thrive within the community. Hardest Lesson The wholesale side of produce is rough-and-tumble. I found out fast that if you don’t market, you don’t make it. Bumper crops don’t matter if you can’t move them, and you can’t store this stuff. It has to move now. If it doesn’t, all you have are bills. I get my inspiration from … reminding myself that my family’s farm is irreplaceable. My family has been there 80 years, and our family’s legacy is written into every acre. That’s something that money can’t buy. Every day I work is a tribute to my parents, grandparents and great-relatives. I take that seriously. It’s a bottomless well of inspiration to keep fighting on.
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11 Valeria Lento Palmertree 28, Pensacola
Director of Communications, Visit Pensacola Business Philosophy Be transparent. Be kind. Do well. Definition of Success In the words of Samuel Beckett, “Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Success isn’t about not making mistakes, but rather about learning from them. It’s best defined in that moment when, following a fall, one decides whether to get back up again. A Lesson Learned No question is a stupid question. I think we have a natural tendency to hold back our curiosity for the fear of sounding uninformed. But the less you ask, the less you know.
12 Jonathan Tallman 25, Niceville
Financial Advisor Owner, The Tallman Group LLC Business Philosophy Always put the client’s needs first. Definition of Success Having a passion for what you do and helping people while you do it. A Lesson Learned Value your relationships because life is short. Career Choice I’ve always been a goal-oriented person. This career allows me to assist others in creating and meeting their goals for the future. So, it was a perfect fit. Hope for the Future Educate small businesses on how to plan for their future and leave a legacy for future generations.
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best of the
Emerald Coast We choose to live, work and play in the Emerald Coast because it has a distinct sense of place that gives us a true sense of belonging.
Locals will tell you the quality of life here is unlike any other, because of the people who give this little patch of Florida personality plus. They are our earnest, hardworking friends, family and neighbors who pour their heart and souls into all they do — including the delicious restaurants and service-centric shops they own and operate, and the exceptional professional services they dutifully provide to each of us on a daily basis. With so many well-respected service providers and memorable places to dine, shop and play all along the Emerald Coast, choosing just one “best” of the Emerald Coast business for each category is indeed a challenge. So, why not call in the experts? For the past 12 years our EC gurus have not steered us wrong, so once again, we are happy to present the Best of the Emerald Coast Ballot to you, our loyal EC magazine readers. It's time for you to be the judge and cast your vote. An independent firm will tally the votes, and the winners will be featured in the October/November 2013 issue of EC Magazine. You will have a chance to toast the winners and support the Junior League of the Emerald Coast, at the annual Best of the Emerald Coast celebration at Grand Boulevard on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 6-9 p.m.
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2013 official best of the emerald coast ballot brought to you by:
THE RULES OK, get your pens ready. But first, please take note of our rules, which are designed to make the contest as fair as possible: • Only ballots printed on original magazine pages will be accepted — no copies (color or black-and-white) or facsimiles of the ballot. • Ballots must have votes in at least 20 categories. • All votes must be for Emerald Coast-area businesses. • No incentives, prizes, goods or services may be offered in exchange for votes.
Once ballots are counted, all tabulations are final.
Food & Beverage
Best Frozen Treat (Ice Cream, Yogurt, Gelato, Snow Cones):
Bakery: BBQ: Beer Selection: Bloody Mary: Breakfast: Brunch: Buffalo Wings: Cajun: Chef: Onsite Catering: Chef: Chinese:
• Only one ballot per envelope is permitted. •B usinesses may not require ballots to be turned into a central location; they must be filled out independently and mailed to address listed below. • All ballots must be mailed directly to the post office box address below: “Best of the Emerald Coast” PO Box 531 Fort Walton Beach, FL 32549 • Ballots must be postmarked by June 30, 2013. •B allots to be counted under the auspices of Fountain, Schultz, & Associates, L.C. • Obvious attempts at ballot stuffing will be disqualified. •A ny winning business must be in good standing with Rowland Publishing Inc. in order to be promoted as a Best of Winner.
Italian: Locally Owned Restaurant: Margarita: Martini: Mediterranean: Mexican/Latin American Restaurant: Outdoor Bar: Outdoor Dining: Oysters: Pizza: Restaurant in Escambia County: Restaurant in Okaloosa County: Restaurant in Walton County:
Service-Food & Beverage:
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Specialty Fitness (Pilates, yoga, etc.):
Vacation Rental Company/Service:
Wedding Planner Company:
Boat Sales and Service:
Weight Loss Facility:
Builder/Contractor: Auto Repair:
Children’s Clothing Retailer:
Locally Owned Retailer:
Event Planning Company: Eye Doctor Practice: Flooring:
Men’s Apparel: Outdoor Furniture Retailer: Sporting Goods Retailer:
Florist: Gym/Health Club/Fitness Center: Hair Salon: Heating and Air Service: Insurance Agency: Interior Design Firm: Landscaping/Lawn Service: Law Firm:
Wedding Shop: Women’s Accessories: Women’s Apparel: Women’s Shoes:
Entertainment Art Gallery: Best Place for Kids Birthday Party:
Locksmith: Martial Arts/Karate: Massage Therapist: Medical Center/Hospital: Medical Practice: Nail Salon:
Golf Course: Local Artist: Local Attraction: Local Event: Musician/Vocalist/Band: Place To Be Seen:
Place To Go Dancing:
Place To Take the Kids:
Place To Watch a Sunset:
Pool Building/Service Company:
Real Estate Group:
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DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE BALLOT STARTING ON PAGE 73 TO VOTE FOR THIS YEAR’S CATEGORIES.
Abrakadoodle BEST plac e for kid s bi rth day pa rty | 2012 The perfect place for creative children to party! We provide a teacher, fun activities, art materials and a masterpiece for each child to take home. Abrakadoodle also has exciting art education programs.
Coastal Accounting B EST Acco u n t i n g F i r m | 2012 Coastal Accounting is locally owned and operated with a personal connection with each client. We are a full service firm offering audit, tax, bookkeeping, payroll, estate/retirement planning and more.
Aegean Restaurant BEST M e d i t e r r a n e a n | 2012 Family owned and operated neighborhood Greek restaurant. Fresh authentic Greek and American dishes. Come experience great food and hospitality.
Destin | 850.654.9235 Niceville | 850.729.1129 coa sta l acco u n t i n g . n e t
Miramar Beach | 850.460. 2728 Shalimar | 850.613.6120 aegeanfl.com
Specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology, our providers provide comprehensive dermatological care to patients of all ages, focusing on each patient’s individual concerns and needs. Offering: Same Day Appointments, Fellowship-Trained Mohs Surgery, and Skin Rejuvenation Treatments.
Bay Breeze Patio B e st o u t d o o r f u r n i t u r e r e ta i le r | 2012
Sam Taylor Buick Cadillac Be st C u sto m e r S e rvi ce 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012
Bay Breeze Patio features the largest selection of in-stock patio furniture in the region. Specializing in quality products, including premium grill lines, gas logs, fire pits, furniture, pottery and accessories, Bay Breeze Patio creates comfortable and functional outdoor living spaces.
“Complete And Total Customer Satisfaction!” … The guiding principles that distinguish Sam Taylor Buick Cadillac. Founded in 1974, Karen Taylor-Hutson, Don Hutson and their dedicated staff are committed to meeting and exceeding your transportation needs.
Miramar Beach | 850.654. 3376 c o a s t a l s k i n s u r g e r y. c o m
32 Forest Shore Drive, Destin 8 5 0 . 2 6 9 . 4 6 6 6 | b ay b r e e z e p a t i o . c o m
Destin | 850.424.5058 abrakadoodle.com/fl07
Coastal Skin Surgery & Dermatology BEST D er matology P r act i ce | 2012
3 2 9 M i r a c l e S t r i p P k w y, F t . W a l t o n B e a c h 8 5 0 . 2 4 4 . 5 1 6 5 I S a m t ay l o r . c o m
infinity flooring B e st Flo o r i n g ( ca r p e t/ t i l e ) | 2012 Voted Best of the Emerald Coast for the last three years. Infinity Flooring is locally owned and operated doing business along the Emerald Coast for 17 years. Featuring a broad range of mid- to high-end products including wood, tile, carpet, luxury vinyl and rugs. 850.650.1039 | infinityfloors.com
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Dr. Bawa and associates Be st Weigh t Los s Faci l i t y Multi-Year Winner
Design Avenue B e st I nt e r i o r De s i gn F i r m Multi-Year Winner
We are a General Medicine practice that provides assistance with weight loss, bio-indentical hormones, holistic medicine, lasers and aesthetics. We use state-of-the-art laser techniques such as fractional laser treatments, hair removal, and vein removal, pore size reduction, scar reduction and Thermage.
A full-service interior design center and boutique gift shop with a unique fusion of design elements and a destination for specialty gifts. Ashley Harkins, owner and experienced Licensed Interior Designer, makes new construction specifications to remodeling endeavors a relaxing experience.
Destin | 850.424.7320 S a n ta R o s a B e ac h | 8 5 0 . 53 4 . 4 1 70 PANAMA CITY B EACH | 8 5 0 . 5 3 4 . 4 1 7 0 drbawa.com
3 4 9 4 0 E m e r a l d C o a s t P k w y, S t e 1 1 4 , D e s t i n 8 5 0 . 424 . 51 55 | D e s i g n -Av e n u e .co m
Bistro Bijoux B e st F r ench | Multi-Year Winner
Center For Family and Cosmetic Dentistry Be st De n ta l P r ac t i c e Multi-Year Winner
A romantic restaurant featuring perfectly seasoned coastal cuisine with New Orleans flair. We offer catering for private events and weddings through RSVP events of at Bistro Bijoux. Our intimate lounge offers specialty martinis and award-winning wine list.
At the award-winning cosmetic and family dentistry practice, Dr. Dennis Lichorwic, Dr. Julia Sprang and Dr. Stephanie Strauss provide the highest standards of dentistry in an efficient, professional manner. Our team addresses individual needs, as your healthy smile is our priority.
850.622 .0760 | bistrobijouxdestin.com
Destin | 850.654.8665 Pa n a m a C i t y B e a c h | 8 5 0 . 2 3 5 . 2 2 9 9 d e s t i n d e n t i s t . c o m | p c bd e n t i s t . c o m
Dewey Destin seafood Be st s e a fo o d | 2012 Owned by the Destin Family, Dewey is a direct descendent of the townâ€™s founder. The two restaurants serve up charm and award-winning seafood. One in a quaint house overlooking the Destin Harbor, and the original around the corner on the Bay. 202 Harbor Blvd., Destin 8 5 0 . 8 3 7. 7 5 7 5 | d e s t i n s e a f o o d . c o m
resortquest by WYNDHAM VACATION RENTALS
Be st Vacat i o n R e n ta l Company/ S e rvi c e | 2012 Vote for ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals! From answering your online booking questions, to helping you purchase a dream vacation rental, to bringing your property onto our property management program, we can help with every aspect of your vacation experience. 8 6 6 . 4 51 .1 0 0 5 | wy n d h a m vac at i o n r e n ta l s . co m
Dixon Kazek Morrison Custom Homes B e st B u i l d e r /Co n t r ac to r | 2012 Our goal is to build or renovate only a small handful of homes per year so that we can dedicate our full attention to making your homebuilding experience a pleasant one. We personally oversee each project to ensure the end result of a home that exceeds your expectations. 8 5 0 . 6 5 0 . 7 5 3 9 | D KMC u s t o m H o m e s . c o m
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Legendary Marine b e st b oat sa l e s a n d s e rvi c e Multi-Year Winner
Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village Be st P l ac e To Be S e e n | 2012
Legendary Marine with locations in Destin, Fort Walton Beach, Panama City and Gulf Shores, AL, offers new boat and premium pre-owned sales, the largest factory-authorized service departments on the Gulf Coast, full marina services and dry storage.
Overlooking the Destin harbor in the heart of the waterfront HarborWalk Village, Emerald Grande is the perfect location to stay, dine and play. This award-winning wedding venue offers many breathtaking views creating memories that will last a lifetime.
fo u r Lo c at i o n s legendarymarine.com
1 0 H a r b o r B l v d . , D e s t i n | 8 5 0 . 3 3 7. 8 1 0 0 emeraldgrande.com
McCaskill & Company B e st J e w e l ry Sto r e Multi-Year Winner
BEST LIGHTING STORE Multi-Year Winner Lighting ... Or Art? You decide. Beautiful Lights fits every need and budget, providing impeccable service and always striving for unique, beautiful and innovative lighting options along with design consultations for residential and commercial clients. Shops of Destiny 3 6 2 3 6 E m e r a l d C o a s t P k w y, S u i t e C 2 Destin | 850.650.9417
Today’s Boutique Be st Women’s Appa r e l Multi-Year Winner Celebrating over 30 years in business, owners Jim and Kim Dettle and their staff offer exceptional service and a large selection of the latest fashion trends to their clientele. Visit Today’s Boutique for exclusive lines, fashion and fun. Lo c at e d ac r o ss f r o m t h e D e st i n co m m o n s , next to Publix 4 4 3 3 C o m m o n s D r i v e E a s t # e 1 0 3 | 8 5 0 . 8 3 7. 5 5 6 5
Best Dry Cleaner | Multi-Year Winner
The French Laundry is a 100% environmentally green high quality dry cleaner owned and operated in South Walton since 2001. We take pride in protecting our customer’s wardrobes and household items to keep them looking great longer, while delivering the best combination of service and quality for the lowest possible cost.
McCaskill and Company hosts some of the world’s most exclusive jewelry and watch designers. Owners, Bill and Elizabeth, and their staff offer an inviting showroom with attention to detail customer service making each visit an experience to remember. 1 3 3 9 0 H i g h w ay 9 8 W e s t , D e s t i n 8 5 0 . 6 5 0 . 2 2 6 2 | M c C a s k i l l a n dC o m p a n y. c o m
Miramar Beach | 850. 269.0006 S a n ta R o s a B e ac h | 8 5 0 . 6 2 2 . 0 4 3 2 thefrenchlaundrydrycleaners.com
Bow Wow Meow B e st P e t Ca r e /S h o p | Multi-Year Winner Our holistic, eco-friendly, unique dog and cat supply shop on Scenic Hwy 30A was a dream of ours for many years. Shortly after opening, we were honored in being voted the Best Of Emerald Coast for 2011 and 2012. Now in our third year, our dream is becoming a reality thanks to all the support from the great people here on the Emerald Coast. 4 9 3 5 E . C o . H w y. 3 0 - A , S u i t e 3 | S e a g r o v e B e a c h | 8 5 0 . 5 3 4 . 0 0 0 9 b o w w o w m e o w p e t c o m p a n y. c o m
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Osaka Japanese Steakhouse And Sushi Bar B e st Hibac h i | Multi-Year Winner B e st Sus h i | 2008 A memorable and entertaining dining experience where the freshest available ingredients are assembled into artfully prepared sushi dishes. Or, enjoy an amazing show as your meal is prepared right in front of you at one of our hibachi tables.
Fat Clemenza’s Brick oven pizzeria B e st I ta l i a n R e stau r a n t Multi-Year Winner If you have not had the opportunity to dine at Fat Clemenza’s you are missing out on a multiple award winner for best chef, Italian food, and wood fired pizza. Our staff will make you feel like “part of the family.” 1 2 2 7 3 US H w y 9 8 , M i r a m a r b e a c h 8 5 0 . 6 5 0 . 5 9 8 0 | fatc l e m e n z a s . co m
3 4 74 5 E m e r a l d C o a s t Pa r k w ay, D e s t i n 850.650.4688 or 850.650.4689 Osakadestin.com
Mama Clemenza’s European Breakfast Be st Brunch | 2012 Culinary perfection, diverse menu and authentic old world family recipes, simply the best! A customer quoted: “At 82 I can count the memorable meals on one hand and this is one of them.” Locally owned — vote Mama Clemenza’s! UPTOWN STATION , 7 5 EGLIN PARKWAY, FORT WALTON B EACH 850. 243.0707 | mamaclemenzas.com
Sporty Lady of Destin B e st B e ac h w e a r r e ta i l e r a n d b e st lo ca l ly ow n e d r e ta i l e r Multi-Year Winner Sporty Lady offers expert sizing advice, as well as the perfect suit for all sizes and shapes among its 10,000 swimsuits from over 50 of the most famous brands. Come to Sporty Lady for the fit, and return for the service.
Harris Insurance Be st I n s u r a n c e Age n cy | 2012 Harris Insurance has been protecting Florida’s Emerald Coast since 1965. We have an experienced team of licensed agents who can provide you with quotes from multiple companies to ensure you get the right coverage at the right price. 1 2 3 M i r a c l e S t r i p Pa r k w ay SE , F t. Wa lto n B e ac h 850.586.7540 | harrisinsurance.com
Lovelace Interiors Be st I n t e r i o r De s i gn F i rm | 2010 As a widely published and nationally recognized interior design firm on the Emerald Coast, Lovelace Interiors brings life and style to homes locally and nationwide. Visit our showroom for the widest selection of home décor, accessories and furnishing elements. 1 2 8 7 0 US H i g h w ay 9 8 W e s t , M i r a m a r B e a c h 8 5 0 . 8 3 7. 5 5 6 3 | L o v e l a c e i n t e r i o r s . c o m
S h o p p e s a t Pa r a d i s e K e y (West of Destin Commons/Next to Publix) 8 5 0 . 8 3 7. 6 7 6 3 | s p o r t y l a d y. c o m
Another Broken Egg Cafe B e st b r e a k fast | Multi-Year Winner Inspiring eggs to excellence, Another Broken Egg Café has won best breakfast for a dozen years! The café offers more than 100 delicious, innovative breakfast, brunch and lunch choices in a warm and inviting atmosphere. Fo r lo c at i o n s , g o to A n ot h e r b r o k e n eg g . co m
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DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE BALLOT STARTING ON PAGE 73 TO VOTE FOR THIS YEAR’S CATEGORIES.
Avantgarde Salon & Spa Best Hair Salon | Multi-Year Winner A full-service AVEDA salon and spa offering hair, body and skin service and treatment. An Emerald Coast Top Salon finalist in 2011 and 2012, and named a Top 200 salon in United Stated by Salon Today for 10 consecutive years. 3 6 2 3 6 E m e r a l d C o a s t P k w y. , s t e . A S h o p s at D e st i n y | 8 5 0 . 6 5 4 . 5 0 57 4104 Legendary Dr., Ste. a101 Destin Commons | 850.654.1301 D e st i n | ava n tg a r d e av e da .co m
John Wehner’s Village Door Be st Plac e To Go Da nci ng Multi-Year Winner
Destin Vacation Boat Rentals B e st C h a rt e r Boat/ Wat e rs p o rt s | 2012 Fish, ski, cruise or sail with Destin Vacation Boat Rentals. This full-service boat rental and charter company offers fishing boats, pontoons, powerboats, sailboats and jet skis for rent as well as fishing and sailing charters, watersports equipment rentals and a ship’s store on site. 850.650.2628 d e st i n vac at i o n b oat r e n ta l s . co m
White-Wilson Medical Center B e st M e d i ca l P r ac t i c e | 2012
Owner John Wehner created this hot spot to offer the same eclectic and electric style as his original nightspot, the Famous Door on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street. The Village Door is Destin’s hottest live music dance club.
White-Wilson Medical Center is a multispecialty physician group, and has proudly served this community for over 60 years. White-Wilson is home to over 70 providers in more than 20 different specialties, with locations in Fort Walton Beach, Destin and Niceville.
L o c a t e d i n t h e V i l l a g e o f B ay t o w n e W h a r f at s a n d e st i n g o l f a n d b e ac h r e s o rt 850.502 .4590 | TheVillageDoor.com
1 0 0 5 M a r Wa lt D r i v e , Fo rt Wa lto n B e ac h 850.863.8100 | white-wilson.com
Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort Be st R e s o rt | Multi-Year Winner Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, rated the #1 resort in Destin, Florida, invites guests to experience beautiful beaches, four golf courses, 15 tennis courts, 19 swimming pools, a 113-slip marina, a fitness center and spa and The Village of Baytowne Wharf. 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy W 866.912 . 3224 | Sandestin.com
Callahan’s restaurant and deli Be st Lo ca l ly Ow n e d R e stau r a n t | 2012 Callahan’s Restaurant and Deli is located in Downtown Destin on the north side of Scenic Highway 98. Our goal at Callahan’s is to always deliver the best of everything that we offer. We always endeavor to bring you the most superior quality items available from today’s market place. 791 Harbor Blvd. (Hwy 98) Downtown Destin | Oldtime Pottery Plaza 8 5 0 . 8 3 7. 7 1 7 1 | c a l l a h a n s d e s t i n . c o m
Buffalo’s Reef B e st B u ffa lo Wi n gs | 2012
Buffalo’s Reef has been locally owned and operated for 23 years. No franchise here! We donate our menu and time regularly to our military and locals. First responders always receive discounts. Our wings, burgers and ice cold beer are “Famous” with our Emerald Coast family!
1 1 6 N o r t h E g l i n Pa r k w ay, F o r t W a l t o n B e a c h 8 5 0 . 2 4 3 . WING | b u f f a l o s r e e f . c o m
June–July 2013 79
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80 Juneâ€“July 2013
D ai l y.
the good life Food + Travel + Hea lth + Home
An Experience to Treasure
If the pirate life’s for you, make your way to the Destin Harbor for a spirited adventure aboard the Buccaneer Pirate Ship that you’ll treasure in more ways than one. Scallywags of all ages can set sail on a family-friendly Treasure Hunt cruise filled with sword fighting, storytelling, dancing and treasure hunting — that just may have little swabbies hoisting a chest full of booty from the depths of the sea. For you scurvy dogs over the age of 21, an entertaining evening adult cruise full of good-natured pirate banter and pranks just may put a little more color in your cheeks. You can also celebrate a birthday Buccaneer-style. With a fun-loving costumed crew armed with plenty of silly props and playthings, a goofy mascot and a willing audience, merriment abounds — even the captain gets in on the act by making plenty of mischief with his motley crew. This beautiful, hand-rigged, 100-foot pirate ship is decked out for fun year round. So, channel your inner Jack Sparrow and get in on the act. Arrr! — Zandra Wolfgram
*happiness is ...
Photo by Scott Holstein
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
in motion Scott Holstein takes on the surf with a twin tip Liquid Force "Edge" kiteboard.
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a crash course in
PhotoS by Gabriel Hanway
By Scott Holstein
sit back in the water, knees at my chest, and quickly jam the board on my feet before the next wave hits. As I pull the control bar the giant orange and black kite flying above me turns in response, diving quickly toward the water. The kite’s power is transferred down the four lines to the harness around my waist and rips me up out of the water and onto the board. I zip over the swells, heading away from the beach at St. George Island and into deeper water as the kite pulls me along. For several moments, it’s just me, the water, and the wind as I enjoy a peaceful, but thrilling ride. All too soon, my imperfect stance and balance get the best of me, and I accidentally vacate the board and hit the water face-first. In the confusion of my wipeout, I lose control of the kite. It crashes into the water and a swell immediately swamps it, preventing me from re-launching in the light wind. I steadily tug one of my lines while bobbing up and down in the Gulf in a futile attempt to force the kite back into the air. John Parsons, my kiteboarding mentor, glides past me. “You’re going to have to swim in; I’ll find your board!” Frustrated, I roll over onto my back to keep free from my lines and gear and begin the painstakingly slow swim back to shore, dragging my waterlogged kite behind me. It’s the middle of winter, and I eventually crawl onto the empty beach, exhausted and thankful for the warmth of my wetsuit. I’m a newbie to the sport of kiteboarding. In the months after my official daylong lesson, I have been hanging out with John, a seasoned kiter, any time there is enough wind on the weekends to fly the kites. I easily picked up the basics of flying the kite, but I have struggled from Day One to ride the board properly, likely due to my lack of experience with other board sports and to an unusually calm winter full of windless weekends. My continual wipeouts have led me to dub what I do as “kitecrashing.” And I’ve inadvertently mastered several of my own crash tricks, such as the “mullet,” or, my favorite, the “netti pot.” Although considered an extreme sport, modern kiting equipment utilizes safety features that minimize the risks. Just about anyone in moderate shape with decent balance and coordination can learn to kite. It doesn’t require a lot of strength; the power of the kite is held by the Appropriately named "Envy," harness, not the rider’s arms. I imagine having a background in board Holstein's 15-meter sports may help with the learning curve. Those with flexible schedules Liquid Force kite who can kite anytime the wind is blowing will get in more time on the allows him to safely surf in winds up to water than those who can only go on the occasional windy weekend. 20 m.p.h. Holstein The first step into the sport of kiteboarding is to take lessons from (above) is up and ready for a ride. a professional instructor. If you’re unsure it’s something you would be (Right) After some interested in, stop by one of the local shops to learn a bit more about "water boarding" the sport to help you decide if it’s for you. Whether you pick it up lessons Holstein is finally victorious immediately, or like me it takes you a little longer, kiteboarding is an and sails across exciting and challenging venture. So take lessons, grab your gear, and the surf with his meet me at the beach. I’ll be practicing my new kitecrashing trick, instructor/buddy John Parsons. the “ostrich.” ec EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
Dads like to be pampered too! Get him a gift certificate from As You Like It Salon to help him relax. He deserves it! www.AsYouLikeItSalon.com | 850.664.2954 323 Page Bacon Rd., Mary Esther, FL 32569
PRESENTING SPONSOR: BLUEWATER PLASTIC SURGERY
84 June–July 2013
PRESENTING SPONSOR: BLUEWATER PLASTIC SURGERY
A Model Do-Over!
EC Top Salon Model Receives MakeOver, Confidence and Fresh Start after Near Fatal Accident By Martha J. LaGuardia-Kotite
Photo by Shelly swanger Photography
tranquil drive along 30A in Watercolor shattered Lori Bennett’s life. In an instant, the serene scene changed to horror as a Volvo driven by a drunk driver crashed headon into her Dodge Caravan. The blow broke most of her teeth. Her liver, bruised from the collision, swelled to twice its normal size. Bennett was cut out of her driver’s seat. The other driver walked away. “The accident changed my whole outlook on life,” said Bennett, now 48, who described herself before the Aug. 12, 2006, accident as someone who could do anything. Now, it was hard for her to smile. After leaving the hospital, the Navarre wife and mother of three adult sons retreated. For the next five years, she lived a life of seclusion, staying home and eating Generous sponsors only soft foods. She feared like Dr. Stephen Clark from Bluewater Plastic strangers would laugh at her Surgery and industry appearance. A head injury expert judges Marsha made impossible even the Doll, Ron Faircloth and Carrie McNeill simple things, like recalling celebrate on the LeCiel how to get home. at Sandestin catwalk Presented with an oppor- with model Lori Bennett and her style team from tunity to emerge from her two-time winner As You seclusion, Bennett agreed Like It Salon. to compete as one of the 10 models for Emerald Coast Top Salon 2012, an annual charity fundraiser and the premier salon industry event in the area. Top Salon has become a highly anticipated community event. Locals vote to nominate salons, and then the 10 salons that garner the most votes are chosen to compete by Rowland Publishing Inc., the publisher of EC Magazine. Competition rules require salons select a model, make her over in 24 hours and send the model down the runway on event night. The true focus of the event is the philanthropic aspect. Each salon selects a charity. The winning salon’s charity receives a portion of the event’s proceeds and a $5,000 Media Sponsorship from EC Magazine. The salon also wins a yearlong ad campaign in EC Magazine valued at $10,000. The presenting sponsor, Bluewater Plastic Surgery, supported the event’s costs and provided facials and body treatments. Retailers at Destin Commons provided clothes, shoes and jewelry worn by the models. Daniel Lewis, Dallas salon owner and Bravo’s outspoken “Shear Genius” fan favorite, has hosted Top Salon since it first debuted in 2011. A true salon celebrity, he easily charmed and energized a live audience of hundreds, working off the crowd while pop music and Broadway style lights turned up the
night’s energy. “Every model has been touched by something in their life. Did you see those women’s before and after pictures? Life can take a toll,” Lewis joked. “Without too much effort you can pick yourself up and look good. From that comes peace and health.” Bennett was hoping to find a job in November 2011, when she began vocational rehabilitation with Horizons of Okaloosa County Inc., located in Fort Walton Beach. Here she met Dr. Julie McNabb, the chief executive officer and a client of As You Like It Salon in Mary Esther, who helped Bennett find temporary employment at Island Golf. When As You Like It was selected as one of the finalists to compete, co-owner Jen Perlman chose Horizons as their charity and turned to McNabb for a model candidate. “From my perspective it was going to help her find a job,” said McNabb, who suggested Bennett. “Doctors were trying to give me all the medicine in the world, but they could not give me my confidence or my self esteem,” said Bennett. “I thought they [As You Like It Salon] could help me build up my confidence again and let me see who I really was.” During the weeks leading up to the competition, salons assisted their models with clothing and shoe preferences and planned how to best make use of the 24hour window allowed for the makeover. Long lasting friendships developed beEmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
The As You Like It Salon style team made over Lori Bennett from head to toe during a 24hour makeover marathon. She revealed her new look by strutting her stuff down the catwalk at LeCiel at Sandestin in a figure-flattering cocktail dress and sexy slingback shoes as the crowd clapped along to the club hit "Let's Go."
86 Juneâ€“July 2013
Photo by Shelly swanger Photography (after) and Katrice Howell (before)
tween clients and salons. Bennett’s friendship with the As You Like It Salon owners began the instant they met at Island Golf for her “before” photos, which were taken two months ahead of the show. “Just my normal self. That’s what I did,” said Bennett of her attire for the images. “Baggy sweatshirts, baggy jeans.” Said Perlman of the meeting: “I couldn’t wait to see all we could do for her. Lori had Thanks to prelong hair, waist length. She had two inches of senting sponsor new growth that had to be colored.” Destin Smiles, Perlman helped Bennett rehearse for the the 2013 event show in October with one of the judges, Maris underway. sha Doll, a professional talent scout and model For full details coach. “She was teaching me how to walk, be about the event, visit sassy and smile,” said Bennett. EmeraldCoastAt 5 p.m. on Nov. 9 the salons and models Magazine.com. set to work. As You Like It’s team of seven salon professionals began by treating Bennett to her first facial and a haircut. The hardest part for Bennett was adjusting to a much shorter hair length, just above her shoulders. “Oh my God, it’s all gone,” she said, touching the back of her neck. “Brow shaping made her eyes pop,” said Perlman. “Wow, there they are, very blue eyes.” Bennett’s hair was straightened, and her all-over gray was colored an auburn shade. “I think I got six hours of sleep,” said Bennett, going home around midnight. By noon Saturday, she returned to the salon. Top of the list was a manicure and pedicure. “They soaked my feet in hot wax and I said, ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ ” Hair styling, makeup and some dress alterations completed the look. At five that evening, under guidelines established for the show, all work ceased. As the sun set, a black stretch limousine arrived at the salon. Bennett and Perlman settled in for the 40-minute ride to LeCiel at Sandestin, the chic venue for the hot salon industry event. The biggest challenge was not cosmetic. The inner transformation of Bennett from a quiet woman who lacked self-confidence to one who could walk with satisfaction on the runway without fear, facing an audience of strangers, required mentoring, which Perlman and the salon team offered. “Saturday night I was psyching myself up saying, ‘You can do this,’ ” said Bennett. Before the audience entered the ballroom, she practiced walking the runway again. Even though her high heels kept sticking on the carpet, she was not deterred. As the sound of music floated across LeCiel's poolside food and drink bars under a cool, starry night sky, chefs served choices of pasta or roast beef prepared to taste. Salon teams, noticeable by their themed attire, chatted poolside with friends, guests and clients to celebrate in the final reveal of the stylists’ hard work over the past four months. Backstage, Bennett was sweating. The show was about to begin, and guests filled the ballroom. “The biggest obstacle was having all those people in the audience staring at me,” said Bennett before she stepped out, the eighth model to appear. She stepped behind a large backlit screen. Shaky and trembling she struck a pose, creating a silhouette as "Let's Go," by Calvin Harris featuring Ne-Yo, pulsed. Her husband of 18 years had not seen the makeover until her heels touched the runway. “I about fell out,” Bill Bennett said. “She’s completely different. I like it.” Bennett, hyperventilating, returned backstage. With the votes in, the models assembled on stage for the results. There, Bennett heard, “And the winner for the second year in a row is As You Like It.” Then, she heard her name. Bennett said she felt like “something coming out of its shell.” Her confidence restored by the experience, this “model” winner is eyeing a bright future and plans to attend veterinary technician school. “Now, I’m not afraid of anything, and I like it,” she said. ec
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EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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Photos by Jacqueline Ward Images
Celeste Cobena eleste Cobena puts her pedals to the metal (above) at the in order to peddle. On Saturday mornSeaside Farmers ings, the Dune Allen resident rises bright Market with her trusty peddle and early to prepare for the nearly 10-mile machine. An trek from her home to Seaside Farmers Market. She environmentalist, Cobena's spirited straps a tent to her bike, piles up soap products into a line of fragrance custom-designed carrier and takes off. bars and Shea The rest of the week, she’s busy making deliveries to butter soaps (right) are hand-made retail outlets along 30A that sell her sought-after prodwith plant-based ucts. She resorts to four-wheels only on distant locations essential oils. like Patchouli’s in Rosemary Beach to fulfill the promise printed on her soap wrappers —“delivered by bike when possible.” She pedals over to “For the Health of It” in Blue Mountain. She also coasts down the 30A bike path to “Pickets” in Seagrove Beach. “I’ve gotten caught in downpours and stopped at La Loba’s Bakery or the bike shop to cool off during 100-degree temperatures. But I’ve always made it!” she exclaims. Once this energetic woman starts moving, it’s hard to slow her down. She charges full steam ahead, always arriving at her destination come rain or shine. “It’s funny, you never know where something might lead,” says Cobena, recalling a bike ride she took through a state forest 20 years ago shortly after moving down from Louisiana. It transformed her into an environmental activist who helped save the state lands she rode her bikes through. One thing she did was to map out an extensive network of greenway trails enjoyed by many today, an action followed by helping to found Beach to Bay Connection Inc., a grassroots
Soap Pedaler the
Follow that bike to the Seaside Farmers Market By Anne Schultz
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
organization dedicated to keeping the land protected. With modesty she clarifies her role. “I instigated the trails,” she says. “But scores of volunteers worked with me to clear and establish them.” The soaps she made for Christmas presents more than 12 years ago turned into a flourishing cottage industry. “I always made homemade chocolates for Christmas gifts until I sampled so many that the only thing that fit over the holidays was a pair of baggy sweatpants with a drawstring waist,” she exclaims. “I decided to create a nonedible gift for the following Christmas and chose handcrafted soaps after reading how to make them. That first year I made too many, so I hauled the rest up to Barret’s Store on Highway 98 and they continued selling them until the store closed.” Cobena knows some fascinating details about the history of soap. “Soap is an ancient substance that legend says was discovered by women washing clothes in streams below hills where animal sacrifices took place,” she explains. “Animal fats dripped into the fires and mixed with the potash (the alkali) thus creating soap that ran down the sloping hillside into the stream. Women noticed how much cleaner their clothes looked on those days when soap flowed into the water.” Soap has come a long way since then, with modern technology allowing for a superior product to be produced. “Years ago when people made soap at home it was guess work as to how much oil and alkali to combine,” Cobena says. “These days I use a computer program and digital scale to get accurate measurements of the ingredients.” Cobena’s soaps are made in small batches by hand, and her formula leaves in a little extra oil so it doesn’t dry the skin. With a master’s degree in geology, she approaches soap making like a chemist, using her scientific knowledge to concoct unique and interesting soaps by experimenting with a variety of essential oils, fragrances and colors. Some of the synthetic ingredients used in commercially produced soaps have harmful affects on your skin, Cobena says. Triclosan, for example, is one that may cause dermatitis, hormone disruption or respiratory problems, she warns. Cobena purchases high-quality plant-based essential oils that are naturally beneficial to the skin. Each herb or plant contains its own therapeutic properties. For example, lavender helps relax and pamper the body, while the oils in orange peel heal and release an uplifting zesty scent. 90 June–July 2013
Photos by Jacqueline Ward Images
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Cheerfully Lemongrass is a tall tropical plant with a packaged soaps, strong lemon aroma that both invigorates body sprays and and relaxes. hand lotions sport playful names Cobena set up the studio off the back of such as Spray for her house because, “all your food tastes like Peace and Wake soap if you make it in the kitchen,” she adUp Call. mits. “Coconut oil is used in many soaps, but I prefer palm kernel oil. It lathers up better and is gentler on the skin.” Shea butter is a basic ingredient in her soaps. “It comes from a nut harvested from an African tree and is the most hydrating oil I’ve found,” she says. “The oil promotes healing and contains an antiinflammatory ingredient.” Her Shea butter bars rival costly imported French triple-milled soaps, and are made right here in the Panhandle and sell at reasonable prices. One that she playfully labels Follow Me to Seaside Farmer’s Market is made from tallow Cobena renders from a side of grass-fed beef she purchases from a regional farm. It feels creamy, perhaps because it contains the thick rich cream from Ocheesee Diary (another Seaside vendor), along with palm kernel oil, sunflower oil, emu oil and castor oil, as well as spicy notes of clove, patchouli, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus radiate and rosemary. The clever packaging on this soap pictures a black and white angus cow riding a bike with a chicken perched in a basket up front while another one straddles the cow from behind. These organic nature-inspired products are a perfect fit for the market, for as she reminds us, “You put healthy food inside your body, but what about your skin on the outside?” Her current personal favorite is Egyptian Musk. It’s a blend of patchouli essential oil, lavender essential oil, sandalwood and musk fragrance. Day at the Beach is one of the most popular and is created from a trade secret recipe Cobena will not divulge. Another customer favorite is Florida Sunshine, a zingy citrus blend of sweet orange and lavender. One of the latest is a soap that blends sweet orange and peppermint essential oils and includes duck egg yolk from Twin Oaks Farm she named Wake Up Call. “These soaps make an ideal gift because they are a unique product handmade in South Walton,” she says. “Also terrific for a vacation souvenir, as their natural aromas evoke the clean outdoor scents of sea and air that stimulate memories — and are delivered by bike whenever possible.” ec
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EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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NICEVILLE | FT. WALTON BEACH | SANTA ROSA BEACH | CRESTVIEW
Ms. Gro Post, ey r d Au
CORrAL YOUR Water Plant a Runoff-Reducing Rain Garden
By Audrey Post
Q: My backyard has a moderate slope that turns into a small stream when we have a heavy rain. A friend suggested installing a rain garden, but I’m not sure what that is or how to start. What do you suggest? Rain gardens have multiple benefits for your garden and for the regional environment. They slow the runoff of storm water from your property, reducing the risk of flooding in the yards and streets of neighbors whose property is downhill from yours. They also help filter the rainwater as it passes through the layers of soil and sub-soil, so it’s cleaner when it reaches underground reservoirs and aquifers. Rain gardens also help keep your topsoil and mulch on your property, saving money since you don’t have to replace it every time we get a big rain. Storm-water runoff is a serious problem that contributes to increased pollution in our lakes and streams, particularly because it washes excess fertilizer and chemicals from lawns and gardens. Supplemental phosphorous, in particular, has harmful effects on aquatic life and the health of the North Florida’s numerous springs. Phosphorous is key for making plants bloom — it’s the primary ingredient in “super-bloom” fertilizers and the middle number in the three-digit fertilizer formulas. Because most of the soil in our area has an abundance of phosphorous, any additional phosphorous applied in fertilizer and weed-and-feed products simply runs off and eventually enters the water supply. Agricultural and horticultural specialists at state universities now recommend a general-use fertilizer with a formula of 15-0-15, instead of the 10-10-10 that was the standard for years. Thus, building a rain garden on your property reaps benefits for you and your community. At its most basic, a rain garden is an arrangement of plants in a basin that holds water for anywhere from two hours to two days, allowing it to seep slowly into the soil. To get an idea of how big your rain garden needs to be and where it should be located, watch how water runs off your property during a heavy rain and locate it to catch the water it. You should also consider the size of the your roof and how it sheds water, including whether you have gutters and downspouts to direct that runoff; the size of impervious surfaces on your property such as concrete sidewalks, patios and driveways; and how much rainfall you get. © 2013 Postscript Publishing, all rights reserved. Audrey Post is a certified Advanced Master Gardener volunteer with the University of Florida IFAS Extension in Leon County. Email her at Questions@MsGrowItAll.com or visit her website at www.msgrowitall.com. Ms. Grow-It-All® is a registered trademark of Postscript Publishing.
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
Your rain garden needs to contain plants that can stand “wet feet,” or having standing water around them, for a while. Ideally, these plants also thrive when they’re not in standing water, but you probably will need to water them in a drought situation. Although it sounds like a contradiction, a surprising number of plants can fit the bill. You also need to take into consideration the light level of your proposed rain garden location. Is it in shade or full sun? In our hot, Zone 8b USDA zone, full sun means getting at least six hours of direct sun a day. Or is it in shade part of the day, or high shade — the kind provided by tall pines — most of the day? If you have enough room on your property, large trees such as bald cypress thrive in standing water but also do well in upland, drier situations, making them ideal for rain gardens. For small urban yards, a weeping bald cypress has the same great qualities but grows to only 10 or 15 feet tall. It’s best to plant the trees when you plant the rest of the garden, to avoid disturbing the roots of existing trees and potentially damaging them. Shrubs, perennials and groundcovers help create diversity, just as in any garden. There are a number of books and websites that contain a wealth of information on rain gardens. One in particular, “Rain Gardening in the South” by Helen Kraus and Anne Spafford (Eno Publishers, Hillsborough, N.C.) is especially relevant to our region. Be sure to check the recommended plant list against the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s invasive species list (fleppc.org), though, because
plants that are fine elsewhere might not be here. Closer to home, there’s an excellent resource at the city’s TAPP program, which is an acronym for Think About Personal Pollution. For the past several years, TAPP has awarded reimbursement grants to Tallahassee homeowners for installing rain gardens with up to $175 for plants, compost and mulch. It’s the only program of its kind in Florida. The grant application cycle opened in March this year and will remain open until the pot of money has been exhausted, said Karen Rubin, TAPP’s project manager. “This year, we’re going to be able to help even more people. We have money to cover reimbursements for 60 gardens.” In addition to reimbursement, the program since 2011 has included the services of landscape architect John Gorham, who conducts site visits and designs the rain garden for grant recipients. “We started out doing maybe 20 grants a year, but we increased to 30 a year in 2011 and 2012,” said John Cox, program manager for the City of Tallahassee’s Stormwater Pollution Reduction Program. “It makes a difference. A 10-by-20-foot rain garden, 200 square feet, that holds 6 inches of rainwater can reduce runoff from a quarteracre, single-family site by 20 percent.” It’s a good family activity, he said, “getting the kids out to help dig the garden and install the plants.” The application and directions on building a rain garden are available online at tappwater.org/raingardens.aspx. ec
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in the neighborhood
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his friendly town lives up to its name. Once known as “Boggy,” Niceville (population 11,874) is situated along the scenic shores of Choctawhatchee Bay. It has the best schools in the county, picturesque parks, a youth center, sports fields and is home to the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival, which attracts thousands of attendees each year. With so much to offer, it’s no surprise that Bloomberg’s Business Week (January 2012) named Niceville “The Best Place to Raise Kids in Florida.” The heart of Niceville and one of the most desirable areas to live within the city is surely a development called Bluewater Bay. With its utilities tucked neatly underground, the focus is on the 19 manmade lakes and ponds, wildlife sanctuaries, private community parks and greenbelt areas. Recreation facilities include ball fields, playgrounds, five swimming pools, private bayside and bayou beaches. Susan Rood, a realtor with Keller Williams Realty and director of the Niceville Chapter of the Emerald Coast Association of Realtors (ECAR), makes her home here and says, “Bluewater Bay is a community for those who enjoy the outdoors. It is the Florida lifestyle.” With a focus on the simple pleasures of life, Bluewater Bay is a safe, family-friendly idyllic residential location made up of about 30 small, tidy neighborhoods. This scenic and well cared for 2,000-acre development was first established in late 1970s and is currently home to about 3,000 families. According to Rood, many who call Bluewater Bay home are retired and semi-retired military looking to enjoy life away from the hubbub of the tourist towns that line the Gulf Coast. She would know. Her husband was a retired Major in the U.S. Marines Corps and they were living in New Orleans when Katrina hit in 2005. They sought refuge in Northwest Florida. After looking for more than a year, the Roods and their five boys settled on a five-bedroom/three-bath
96 June–July 2013
By Zandra wolfgram
home in Parkwood Estates. “We loved the location and the schools,” she says. One of the attractions for homebuyers considering Bluewater Bay are the many convenient resort-style amenities that immediately add value to any home. The resort community boasts a 36-hole golf course designed by Tom Fazio and Jerry Pate. If a home overlooking beautiful championship greens appeals to you, Bluewater Bay Resort golf homes will offer this and more. A five-star tennis facility and two large swimming pools are also popular features of this Emerald Coast community. For the walker, runner and cyclist, there are more than 50 miles of paved roads (bicycle lanes have been designated on either side of Route 20 as it runs through the community) and seven miles of paved bike paths. For the kids, there are plenty of playgrounds and green spaces for running and playing. And there is even resort dining for a night out or a convenient way to entertain family and friends. Water lovers are welcome and flock here. There is a 120-slip marina as well as a number of waterfront homes that offer boat moorage, allowing the avid boater or fisherman easy access to the open waters of the Gulf. For those who want the pleasures of looking out onto the ocean without the hassle of home maintenance, waterfront condos in Bluewater Bay provide stressfree home living. Residents appreciate that these amenities are easy to access. “The walkability factor is great here. You see people jogging and walking to the grocery store, marina and tennis courts. It’s just easy,” Rood says. The many varied neighborhoods have created an inviting community that has a surprising number of home styles and
Bluewater Bay is a community that fits nearly every level of lifestyle.” — Susan Rood, Keller Williams Realty realtor and the Niceville Chapter of the ECAR director
locations. The area features estate homes, patio homes, condominiums, homes on the water, homes on the golf course and a number of other location options. Says Rood, “Bluewater Bay is a community that fits nearly every level of lifestyle. You have beginner homes at $150,000 to $200,000 and then you have waterfront property at $700,000 on up as well” With a median home price sales price of $268,000 (for single-family detached homes), Bluewater Bay is priced below Destin and South Walton and above inland areas of Freeport, DeFuniak Springs and Crestview. The average per square foot price of $143.38 is affordable, so homes here don’t sit for long. Currently, the average time on the market (not including short sales) is just 64 days — fewer than many communities on the Emerald Coast. ECAR reports that 45 Bluewater Bay area homes sold in the month of March alone! With 67 active single-family home listings, your dream home may be waiting in Bluewater Bay, but it may not be here for long. ec
Photo by Scott holstein
A Very 'Nice' Place to Call Home
Juneâ€“July 2013 97
Go to emeraldcoastmagazine.com for REAL ESTATE listings
Matties Way in Kelly Plantation A Perfect Fit for Family Life
All statistics refer to single-family, detached homes.
The median sale price for single family homes in Okaloosa County was $198,000 — a 22.2% increase over last March.
By Laura Bradley
On average, Walton County’s closed single family home sales received 90.8% of their original list price.
hen house hunting for a family of four, many considerations can complicate the search: floor plan and space that’s good for mom, dad and the kids; the neighborhood’s kid-friendliness; upkeep and maintenance (both past and future); and, like every house hunt, families need a house with the look and feel they can call home. For one family of four, this spacious custom home at 227 Matties Way was the perfect fit. “This home was a four bedroom, four bath, which is very popular with families,” John Cook, luxury and investment property specialist with Coldwell Banker United, Realtors pointed out. “It has 14-foot ceilings, which give it a very open feel. It is also located in Kelly Plantation, a premier location in Destin.” This home has the perfect combination of space, layout and style as its 3,212 square feet offers plenty of space for mom, dad and the two kids, and the open floor plan is perfectly suited to family and entertaining. The split floor plan also allows mom and dad some privacy, with the master suite on the opposite side of the house from the three additional bedrooms (each with walk-in closet and bathroom). Double doors at the entry open up to a large foyer with a formal dining room to the left and a formal living room and study to the right. The huge great room, casual dining area and kitchen combine to form an elegant living area, with stylish details such as: 14-foot ceilings, arched 98 June–July 2013
doorways, deep crown molding, 20-inch Quick Look: porcelain tile floors, List Price: $649,000 ($202.05/sqft) recessed lighting, cusSold For: $612,500 tom built-ins, a gas log ($190.69/sqft) fireplace and a wall of Square Feet: 3,212 floor-to-ceiling winBedrooms: 4 dows overlooking the Bathrooms: 4 backyard. Additionally, the kitchen is any cook’s dream, with sparkling granite countertops, a breakfast bar with room for four, custom wooden cabinetry and storage, upgraded appliances, including a stainless Thermadore oven and LG dishwasher, and a separate vegetable sink. And for quiet nights, the master suite is the epitome of luxury, with plenty of space, subdued neutral decoration and a fantastic master bathroom, complete with large jetted tub, walk-in shower, his and hers vanities, and a huge walk-in closet. The covered back porch and sprawling backyard offer the perfect place for children to play and potentially add a pool and summer kitchen. Cook noted that the neighborhood itself, Kelly Plantation, also offers a great kid-friendly atmosphere — a major selling point for the buyers. “The buyers had two small children, and they were delighted to be in a neighborhood with many small children and young families,” he recalled. “The home was well positioned at $649,000, but the sellers agreed to sell for $612,500.” ec
On average, Florida’s closed single-family home sales received 93% of their original list price.
Nationally, total housing inventory increased 1.6% to 1.93 million existing homes for sale. The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $184,300 — 11.8% higher than a year before. Source: Emerald Coast Association of Realtors, Florida Realtors and National Association of Realtors
Photo Courtesy John Cook-Coldwell Banker
227 Matties Way
Single-family home inventory (active listings) in Florida dropped by 26% between March 2012 and 2013.
ABOVE THE CROWD #1 Individual in Closed Sales Volume, Transactions and Listings For 2012!
Matthew W. Williams, REALTOR®
(850) 259-MATT (6288)
Search area real estate at: 259Matt.com 34894 Emerald Coast Pkwy | Destin, FL 32541 EmeraldCoastMagazine.com
June–July 2013 99
it's just business
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Pensacola/Fort Walton Beach
early 2008 allowed the mom and pops to thrive at first, but unfortunately they couldn’t survive the downturn. Now we are going after national and regional tenants.” With occupancy at 100 percent, the mall is adding 100,000 square feet of retail space, with an expected May 2014 opening. “We’ll have 20 to 25 new tenants, including stores and restaurants. We’ve already got letters of commitment for over 60 percent of that new square footage.”
▪ Fort Walton Beach, with its military and defense contractors, remains a healthy market in terms of office retail. “And the Pensacola office market is very healthy. Existing offices have been absorbed and turned into a landlord-friendly market there,” says Daniel Wagnon, principal and broker with Structure Commercial Real Estate. “With the latest market price correction, you see investors are starting to venture over to the tertiary (suburban) markets like Pensacola and Tallahassee and buying office assets. Rental rates are increasing. Businesses are able to downsize from 10,000 to 5,000 square feet of space, pay more per square foot and still not have to close the office.”
Panama City Beach
▪ New construction at Pier Park North, with 400,000 square feet of retail space to include major chain stores and restaurants, will make the mammoth mall the central hub of Panama City Beach. Pier Park is a primary market catalyst, providing thousands of jobs and drawing tourists in unprecedented numbers.
▪ Added retail space at Destin Commons: The mall has changed its tactic after the drastic hit to Destin’s economy in the late 2000s and is now approaching national and regional tenants to move in. Robert Perry, general manager for four years, says, “The boom that happened in
▪ A new Walmart and a 38,000-squarefoot Harley Davidson store under construction on U.S. Highway 98, further indicate Panama City Beach’s commercial real estate market is strong.
▪ With a retail sector of almost 4.3 million square feet, and a multi-tenant retail segment of almost 2.5 million square feet that is now experiencing improving occupancies, Panama City Beach’s retail market conditions are beginning to ripen to a point that will soon support rental rate appreciation, according to JPB Commercial. The multitenant segment has tightened from 11-percent vacancy in 2009 down to 7.9 percent, as of second quarter 2012, and while rents have declined in the past few years and remain very attractive for tenants, now is the time to lock in long-term leases, prior to expected rent appreciation, advises the real estate firm. ▪ Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is driving industry growth and job growth, according to Wagnon. “It’s great for Panama City Beach because of the overproduction of condos,” he said. “In Panama City, the medical community is still driving office growth, as is the financial sector. You can buy something for 40 cents on the dollar, invest in it and remain at or below market rates. Usually it’s a user who buys 10,000 square feet, uses 5,000 and rents out the other 5,000.”
Dedicated to Luxury y Real Estate Regatta Bay John Cook
100 June–July 2013
Coldwell Banker United, Realtors
4458 Legendary Drive
Destin, FL 32541
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A Bold Move
Destin Resident Takes a Leap of Faith
Serving Northwest Florida Since 1999
Photos Courtesy Eimer's Group
By Laura Bradley
n the aftermath of the real estate roller coaster in the late 2000s, there are Quick Look mixed levels of confidence from buyers. List Price: Some are hesitant to rejoin the market, $1,400,000 and others have chosen to dive right in, tak($346.02/sqft) ing advantage of some relatively low home Square Feet: 4,046 prices and expressing great faith in the marBedrooms: 4 ket. Such is the case with this listing; the curBathrooms: 3 full, rent owner has listed the home after already and 2 half having purchased a new home in The Oaks Contact: John for $3,000,000. Holahan, Eimers Group Real Estate This home enjoys an incomparable loca& Land, (850) tion in Burnt Pine, a private, guard-gated 337-0800, john@ county club community inside Sandestin eimersgroup.com Golf and Beach Resort. The lot overlooks the fifth green of the Burnt Pine golf course from a quiet, tree-lined cul-de-sac with plenty of privacy. The house itself is as elegant as its surroundings — a Tuscan-inspired structure with Travertine floors, granite countertops, exquisite lighting, fans and plumbing features. The house boasts plenty of space for all with four bedrooms, three full bathrooms, two half bathrooms and a three-car garage. Three separate HVAC systems and Pella windows and doors are a couple of the house’s high-end structural details. An incredible pool and spa feature wireless Aqualink to make control and maintenance of the pool a breeze, giving buyers more time to enjoy the outdoor kitchen and fireplace. For an even richer taste of the outdoors, the view from the second floor balcony and outdoor living area by the pool provide potential buyers a visual feast — and an excellent reason to give this property a look. ec
Darlene Barrett, Marilyn Fletcher
4475 Legendary Drive, Destin, FL 32541 (850) 654-4358 TeamDLT.com
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Doing Business with
Strangers Navigating Craigslist Safely and Successfully
Photo by Scott Holstein (Yii) and Courtesy of Allison Yii (lawn mower)
By Laura Bradley
t’s no secret that craigslist.org has been drawing tens of millions in classified advertising revenue away from newspapers every year. The site is simple to use, easy to navigate and cluttered with information from its users — and very little from anywhere else — allowing dwellers of cities large and small to connect as though they are next-door neighbors. But Craigslist is not always as easy as it sounds. The idea of talking to strangers can make buying and selling an intimidating proposition. Really, the site’s greatest strength is its greatest weakness: Facilitating connections between people includes both the good and the bad connections. The secret to Craigslist success is actually just common sense — be confident, but not foolish. Allison Yii, from Santa Rosa Beach, has both bought and sold using the website. In both of her dealings she recalled being unafraid, but sensible. Her first sale was a Craftsman riding lawn mower she’d won at a church auction. After years of use, Yii decided it was time to sell when the mower gave in to age and stopped working properly. The mower did not run anymore and the blades were falling off, but Yii thought that someone might have a use for it. “I put it on Craigslist for $40, thinking, ‘Somebody might want it for parts or something, or be able to fix it,’” she explained. She posted a couple sentences honestly explaining the condition of the mower and why she was selling it, along with some pictures. As a precaution, she used only the Craigslist-provided seller email for contact information, leaving her own personal contact information out of the listing completely. Within just a couple days, the lawn mower sold for its full asking price to a man who thought it would make a great project for him and his son to take on together. “I posted some pictures and told the truth about it,” she stated simply. That tangible honesty is the key to a good Craigslist listing; if viewers can clearly see what they would be buying, and understand why you no longer want it, they will be far more likely to buy. Lawn mower $40
Allison Yii is happy with her "cool" new-to-her Craigslist purchase.
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
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104 Juneâ€“July 2013
f.y.i. When it was time to replace her refrigerator, Yii thought of Craigslist. She had been looking around retail stores occasionally and thought it wouldn’t hurt to check Craigslist. Fortuitously enough, the precise sort of fridge she wanted — a white LG refrigerator with a freezer on the bottom, with a door instead of a drawer — was listed on the site. The post looked good, the pictures were clear and the $400-$450 price was right. Yii picked up the refrigerator with her mother and a friend with a pickup truck. “They were the nicest people. Just really genuine,” Yii recalls. That came through in their post, and two years later Yii is still very happy with her refrigerator. Her search was largely successful due to her selective treatment of listings. “If it doesn’t have a picture, I’m not even going to call,” she said. Pictures Craigslist Tips should be clear, well lit and taken from a variety ➥ of angles to attract most » Include as much informabuyers. Additionally, tion as possible about the sellers (and buyers, too) item you are selling, as well must remember to leave as clear pictures personal information out » Request additional inforof the post. Yii said that mation or pictures of the often, toward the beginitem you are buying if you ning of transactions, she want more avoids signing her name as » Use email as much as an extra precaution. possible for contact, espeNow, with one sale and cially at first one purchase under her belt, Yii is considering making use of Craigslist ➥ once more — this time to sell a broken down 18-foot » Post any personal information, especially contact fiberglass canoe. The site information. Posting an offers a better audience address, especially when than traditional classifieds, selling an item, has led to she points out, making it a robberies in the past. great resource for anyone interested in buying or » Buy anything that makes selling anything outside you even remotely skeptical the retail sphere. » Sell items out of your “I just think it’s a great house; instead, meet in a online tool … I think public place. If the item is people are going to that too big to transport, make much more than newspasure you are not alone when pers for classifieds these buyers stop by. Same goes days,” she said. for buyers: Meet sellers in a Of course, not every public place if possible. And Craigslist story ends perwhen you must visit a seller’s fectly. Yii recalled an occahome, do not go alone. sion when her husband tried to sell a set of General Contractor’s Class books, asking $750 — half of the price he’d paid for them. Within a day the couple received an email from an interested buyer. “He said he was interested but I’d have to give him my bank account number for them to deposit their check for payment. Of course, I didn’t do it,” said Yii. The couple never sold the books, but no harm was done in trying. While there is no guaranteed success, some Craigslist strategies will make sure you use the site as safely and successfully as possible. ec
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
Coastal Dining Do-overs They are renovated, refreshed, and now, even more delicious
By Susan Benton
hat was once old has become new again, as many waterfront restaurants have undergone recent renovations, updates or expansions, revitalizing dining along the Emerald Coast. Whether searching for fine dining on the Gulf, seeking a beautiful view of the harbor or enjoying a casual bite overlooking the bay, the range of dining experiences can accommodate nearly everyone’s needs. Marina Café, Destin Known for their fresh local seafood, sushi, nightly specials and incredible sunsets, owner Jim Altamura felt it was time to update Marina Café’s look and hired Susan Massey of Bohlert Massey Interiors for the job. Using sea tones and inspiration from the restaurant’s magnificent harbor views, shades of teal wash the walls in color while custom glass from Fusion Art flank the walls. A cooler color palette for the restaurant was refined, with rich walnut staining all of the millwork. Crisp fabric was added to the chairs, barstools and banquettes, allowing for comfortable seating spaces in which to dine and gaze at the boats drifting by. Extensive painting was done to the interior and exterior of the restaurant, along with a verde application to the sculptured sea creatures greeting patrons upon entering the restaurant. For 25 years Marina Café has stood the test of time as one of the most memorable and delicious Destin dining options, and though some things may change, Altamura promises patrons that some things will stay the same. “The Andouille Crusted Redfish will always be on the menu,” he assures. Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, Miramar Beach Though many loyal customers could not see room for improvement in the sophisticated restaurant known for fine dining, prime steaks and live music, the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa decided after 15 years to give Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood a gift — a $1 million renovation. 106 June–July 2013
Photos by Jacqueline Ward Images
Secrest Beach-based interior designer Susan Massey refreshes Marina CafĂŠ with a contemporary nautical theme expressed with round mirrors, a strong sculptural glass rack that anchors the bar, and bold splashes of water hues such as the custom glass art pieces from Fusion Art.
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com Juneâ€“July 2013
Seagar's Prime Steaks & Seafood was recently renovated, but one thing that hasn't changed is the restaurant's impressive 3,000-bottle wine collection some of which is showcased in the private dining "wine room." Whiskey Bravo Bistro & Bar (opposite) has enhanced its staff, menu and rooftop deck that affords one of the most stunning views on 30A.
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Whiskey Bravo, Seagrove 723 Whiskey Bravo Bistro & Bar of Seagrove Beach made its debut in 2012, but by early 2013 big changes were underway as owners Victoria and Skip Moore added former Smiling Fish Café owner and chef George Barnes to their culinary team. With more than 13 successful years of operating a restaurant on 30A, Barnes brought his expertise, a popular lunch menu and a loyal following. And he added another well-known local chef to the mix, Alan Baltazar, who prepares culinary creations such as his signature catch of the day, pan roasted with arugula, bacon, crispy capers and balsamic glaze to the delight of patrons searching for unpretentious and fresh local fare. Gluten free options, a children’s menu, as well as a Rooftop Deck menu have been updated along with other noticeable differences, including a wine bar
Photos by Scott Holstein (Whiskey Bravo) and Kay Phelan (Seagars)
Executive Chef Dan Vargo led the way with menu changes that continue to emphasize select cuts of beef but now has a focus on succulent seafood. Vargo says, “Everything is made in house, including the desserts. We are focusing on regional seafood from local waters, with the exception of the sole and halibut.” The refreshing snapper tartare with orange and basil, and the tuna tartare with lemon and chive is a sought after appetizer, while the most popular seafood addition has been the pan-roasted halibut. Offering custom cut steak selections has also garnered attention as customers can enjoy 6, 8, 10 or 12-ounce portions. An innovative iPad menu with wine list eases diners through the more than 600 labels of fine wine offered, which can be matched to the customer’s dinner selections. Try a glass of crisp French champagne with the Lobster Risotto, or order a bottle of California red to pair with your steak. The options are endless! At Seagar’s entrance, a unique fireand-water feature serves as a dramatic welcoming focal point, while other fresh additions include the completely updated interiors, fresh soft coastal color hues on the walls, and the adornment of new artwork. Mahogany flooring was added for warmth, as was a glass encased semiprivate dining room surrounded by a 250-bottle wall of wine. The lounge with plush seating and a gorgeous fireplace make an oasis for relaxation. Vargo says, “We have a four diamond rating and are reaching for five!”
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
area with more than five hundred fine labels inducing excitement for many, as wine dinners are expected to take place in the near future. The most sought after space is the freshly renovated Rooftop Deck with stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico. Elephant Walk, Miramar Beach As most long-time locals in the area know, The Elephant Walk was Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort’s most beloved fine-dining establishment from 1985-2003. With a devoted following and an exotic upscale atmosphere, the restaurant was the place for freshly caught seafood and stunning Gulf views. When prominent local restaurateurs Tom Rice and Wayne Lewis heard a rumor it might be torn down for a condo development, they decided they could restore the restaurant to her former glory days and stepped in, bringing with them the executive chef from sister restaurant Marlin Grill, Mike McAnulla, to formulate the menu. “Our goal was to bring back this great restaurant tradition with extraordinary cuisine, fine service and beautiful views it was once known for,” Rice says. As an anchor for the resort, Rice worked with Sandestin management to recreate The Elephant Walk, a plan including the use of rich colors, warm woods and the utilization of two levels of a combined 13,000 square feet of deck space, ensuring a spectacular view and Gulf-front dining experience. The popular top floor Governor’s Attic bar is available once again, as is the treasured menu favorite and signature dish — Grouper Elizabeth which is pan seared and topped with jumbo lump crab and a beurre blanc sauce. The dish is in honor of Elizabeth Taylor who starred in the movie for which the restaurant is named. Hand cut 28-day dry aged wood-fired steaks are also in demand and can be topped with the diner’s choice of lump crab, a béarnaise sauce or blue cheese. Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill, Okaloosa Island Locally owned and operated since 1982, Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill has become famous for its good food, world famous T-shirts and fun atmosphere appealing to old and young alike. More than just a Fort Walton Beach tourist destination, Fudpucker’s offers a one-of-a-kind experience that includes the new Fudpucker’s Okaloosa Island — a waterfront establishment featuring over 20,000 square feet of dining and entertainment spaces overlooking the bay. 110 June–July 2013
Stinky's Fish Camp in Navarre offers fresh local seafood and a stellar view of the Santa Rosa Sound. Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill (below) has a new location in Fort Walton Beach overlooking the Choctawhatchee Bay. Elephant Walk (left), the only fine dining restaurant in Miramar Beach located directly on the Gulf, is back by popular demand.
Photos by Scott Holstein (Stinky's Fish Camp) and courtesy of Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort (Elephant Walk) and Fudpucker's Beachside Bar & Grill
Featuring three restaurants, Fudpucker’s serves seafood, steaks and acclaimed burgers, while FudPuckeroni’s offers up pizza, wings and Italian sandwiches in a sportsthemed atmosphere. You won’t want to miss FudShucker’s Steam Shack & Oyster Bar with seafood steamed and boiled, while oysters are in demand raw and baked. Spend the day with Fudpucker’s Watersports and Fishing Charters, or enjoy Fat Daddy’s Arcade on site. The day won’t be complete without a little retail therapy while shopping at Fudpucker’s Trading Company. Partner Chester Kroeger says, “There is something for everyone. You have to see it to believe it.” Stinky’s Fish Camp, Navarre When Chris Sehman decided to embark on a new business in Navarre, he took over a 12,000-square-foot T-shirt shop with plans to renovate the waterfront space for his popular nightlife sports bar concept Helen Back, and planned to include a casual restaurant as well.
After the first attempt with an eatery did not meet expectations, General Manager Russell Hedrick suggested a fish camp type of feel for the restaurant. Sehman says, “Immediately a light bulb went off, and I knew I had to contact old friend Jim Richard of Stinky’s Fish Camp in Santa Rosa Beach.” Already sold on Richard’s cuisine, creativity and work philosophy, Sehman decided incorporating Stinky’s Fish Camp with Helen Back was an excellent decision, and Richard agreed. Just like the 30A restaurant, the same high-quality fresh local fare is served at Stinky’s Fish Camp in Navarre, yet it is geared more towards the locals and military. Sehman says, “The military following just makes my day. They are great.” Executive Chef Jason Hughes prepares coastal delicacies with weekly specials including the popular Mullet Monday Madness, Fat Tuesday Tuesday’s with po-boy specials and Taco Thursday’s where crawfish tamales are in demand. With stunning water views from most seats in the restaurant, Sehman declares, “You have got to come by for sunset.” ec
Where to go 723 Whiskey Bravo Bistro & Bar 3031 Scenic Highway 30A, Seagrove Beach (850) 213-0015 Seagar’s Prime Steaks & Seafood Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa 4400 Sandestin Blvd. South, Miramar Beach (850) 622-1500 Elephant Walk Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort 9301 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West, Miramar Beach (850) 267-4800 Marina Café 404 Harbor Blvd., Destin (850) 837-7960 Fudpucker’s Okaloosa Island 1318 Miracle Strip Pkwy. (850) 243-3833 Stinky’s Fish Camp 8651 Navarre Pkwy., Navarre (850) 396-7799
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
a taste for ...
These Ain’t Your Grandma’s pickles Vats of boiling water, sterilizing instruments, enough salt to solidify the Gulf … not so long ago, pickling was the stuff nightmares were made of. But times have changed, ladies and gentlemen, and after an afternoon with local chef and health food educator Jill Welch, aka the Kitchen Goddess, fearing the DIY pickle has never felt more wrong. With a touch of salt, a pinch or two of dried herbs and a splash of water, Welch has been showing Emerald Coast residents how to get the most out of their vegetables’ nutrition without sacrificing their time or taste buds in the process. How so? By utilizing the “live fermentation” method of pickling, you can ditch the cauldron for a well-salted mixing bowl full of water, your veggie(s) of choice and flavor enhancers like mustard seed, garlic, dill and sage. In the end, you’ll get that same great crispy crunch you love without all the hands-on time of traditional pickling. The secret to this fast, easy and nutrient-rich method is in the vegetables. Leaving the traditional scalding method of yesteryear behind allows vegetables to remain raw, with all of their nutrients intact. In this process, the vegetables are required to produce their own “preservatives,” so to speak — a task that relies almost solely on the production of good bacteria. The idea behind pickling with “good bacteria” is the same theory involved in the growing health food obsession of probiotic yogurt. The term “probiotic,” meaning “for life,” refers to living organisms in the food itself that may result in health benefits, including a more regular digestive system, when eaten in adequate amounts. “We know about the health benefits of yogurt,” said Welch. “It has acidophilus and the beneficial bacteria that’s good for your gut. Well, this is the same idea. You’re putting beneficial bacteria that’s good for your digestion and the assimilation of nutrients into your system.” What seems to be a revolutionary way of thinking in the world of pickling isn’t such a new concept, after all. According to the Kitchen Goddess, live fermentation is one of the oldest methods of preserving fresh vegetables. Before the days of refrigeration, people would store and preserve their garden treasures in much the same way. Change came to the art of pickling, however, when supermarkets started to emerge. Leaving the vegetables in their natural, living state resulted in jars often bubbling over, creating quite the mess for mankind’s first grocery store clerk. Here, we’re not afraid of a little mess. And you shouldn’t be either. It’s as easy as 1, 2, pickles. 112 June–July 2013
Step 1: Produce The truth is, you can pickle just about anything. If you’re one of the Emerald Coast's many garden gurus, we’re quickly approaching that special time of year where the fruits (or vegetables, as the case may be) of your labor are finally about to emerge. Pickling could be the perfect way to enjoy your hard work for months to come. For those without a green thumb, there’s no need for concern. This time of year there are plenty of local vegetable stands and grocery stores bursting at the seams with fresh produce, giving you the pick of the crop when it comes to the selection process. Literally. If you don’t usually buy organic, consider taking a word of advice from the Kitchen Goddess and give it a whirl. “If you’re going to buy organic at any time it should be when pickling and preserving,” said Welch. The reason for making the switch is simple. Since this method of pickling is as much about enhancing as it is preserving, starting from a higher vantage point with organic produce is the first logical step. When pickling, consider using vegetables other than cucumbers, such as okra, carrots or sugar snap peas. Step 2: Prep Wash, slice and dice vegetables to your preferred size and texture — think chips or spears. If your vegetables are store bought, be sure to remove any waxy skin or residue. Once you’re satisfied, place produce in wide-mouth jar. Fill completely with salted water and selected seasonings. Instead of regular table salt, try unrefined sea salt, like Celtic or Himalayan, which can be found at any organic or health food shop. Don’t be afraid to get your clean hands a little messy. The bacteria necessary to make this project a success need to be introduced from the air and your hands to the vegtables, making a hands-on approach absolutely crucial. After your goodies have been jarred, your seasonings dispersed and your water poured, seal the jar tightly with appropriate lid. Place the container in a bowl you won’t need for the next few days and set a dishtowel over the top, blocking any light. Set aside. Don’t be surprised if your premature pickles get a little rowdy — it’s all part of the fun. “It’s going to be alive,” said Welch. “It’ll get really bubbly and when you open it up some of the liquid is going to come out. And that’s okay.”
“COME WATCH THE BAYFRONT SUNSET WITH US” Hours 8–2am Breakfast • Lunch • Dinner Happy Hour Daily 4-6 111 Cannery Lane, Sandestin (In Baytowne Wharf)
Step 3: Pickled And, voila! In just three short days and with a little counter clean-up time later, you’ll be crunching and munching away on deliciously healthy, homemade pickles. Just remember, the longer you let them sit, the more pickled flavored they’ll become.
— Chay D. Baxley
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
dining The Key
The restaurants that appear in this guide are included as a service to readers and not as recommendationsof the EC Magazine editorial department, except where noted. ★ B l d
Best of the Emerald Coast 2012 Winner Breakfast Lunch Dinner
$ $$ $$$
Outdoor Dining Live Music Inexpensive Moderately Expensive Expensive
Alys Beach George’s at Alys Beach American. Seafood, burgers and sandwiches at the perfect beachy-casual spot. Open daily 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. 30 Castle Harbour Dr., 850-641-0017. $$ l d
Blue Mountain Beach
Grecian Gardens Restaurant Mediterranean. Traditional Greek cuisine served in an open-air atmosphere perfect for special occasions or parties. Open daily 11 a.m.–9 p.m. 3375 W. Hwy. 30A, 850-267-3011. $$ l d Marie's Bistro & Bar Mediterranean. Enjoy made-to-order seafood, steak, pasta as well as sushi in a casual atmosphere. Dine in, carry out, drive through and catering. Full bar. Serving lunch 11 a.m.–2 p.m., Tues–Fri and dinner at 5 p.m. Tues–Sun. 2260 W. County Highway 30A. 850-278-6856.$$ l d Johnny McTighe's Irish Pub Irish. A true neighborhood Irish Pub serving authentic Irish Fare and the best pizza anywhere. Happy Hour Mon–Fri 4:30–6:30 p.m. Open daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m. 2298 W. County Highway 30A. 850-267-0101. $ B l d Blue Mountain Beach Creamery Ice Cream. Homemade ice cream, sorbet and frozen yogurt treats. Open daily 10 a.m.–10 p.m. Cash only. 2129 S. County Highway 83. 850-278-6849. $$
AJ’s Seafood & Oyster Bar ★ Seafood. Choose from fresh local seafood, sandwiches, pasta, chicken or specialty dishes like the oysters Eugene or Rockefeller. Open daily 11 a.m. 116 E. Hwy. 98, 850-837-1913. $$ l d Another Broken Egg café ★ Breakfast. Breakfast all day, plus sandwiches, patty melts, specials, soups, salads and desserts. Open daily 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Closed Mondays. (Open Memorial and Labor days.) 979 E. Hwy. 98, Suite F, 850-650-0499. $ B Bonefish Grill ★ Seafood. Daily seafood specials cooked on an oak-burning wood grill. Bang-Bang Shrimp is a crowd-pleasing appetizer. Mon–Thu 4–10:30 p.m., Fri–Sat 4–11:30 p.m., Daily happy hour 4–7 p.m. 4447 E. Commons Dr., 850-650-3161. $$ d Callahan’s Restaurant & Deli ★ American. Voted Best Locally Owned Restaurant 2008–2012, Callahan’s serves up great sandwiches, seafood specials and prime rib. Mon–Sat 10 a.m.–10 p.m. 791 Harbor Blvd., 850-837-6328. $ l d Capt. Dave’s on the Gulf Seafood. Enjoy delicious fresh seafood dishes. Open daily 4:30 p.m. 3796 Hwy. 98, 850-837-2627. $ d Ciao Bella Pizza Da Guglielmo Italian. Authentic Italian pizza, pasta, salads and more. Open daily 11 a.m. 29 E. Hwy. 98, Silver Sands, 850-654-3040. $$ l d CRAB ISLAND CANTINA Mexican. Latin inspired Mexican cuisine in a casual waterfront dining 114 June–July 2013
Coastal Cuisine with a New Orleans flair
The Village of Baytowne Wharf™ AWArd Of ExCEllENCE Wine Spectator BEsT Of ThE EmErAld COAsT Emerald Coast Magazine rEsTAurANT Of ThE YEAr NWFL Daily News
Introducing an event production company
WEddiNgs EVENTs rENTAls CONsulTiNg rsvpdestin.com 850.837.6595
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
dining atmosphere offering the best views of Destin Harbor. Monâ€“Thu 11 a.m.â€“10 p.m., Friâ€“Sat 11 a.m.â€“11 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.â€“9 p.m. 2 Harbor Blvd. 850-424-7417. $$ l d The Crab Trap Seafood. Offering fresh seafood, steaks, salads and soups beachside. Monâ€“Thu 11 a.m.â€“9 p.m., Friâ€“Sat 11Â a.m.â€“10 p.m. 3500 E. Hwy. 98, 850-654-2722. $$ l d Crust Pizzeria Italian. New York-style brick oven pizza. Ask about our specials. Mon-Thu 7a.m.â€“9 p.m., Fri & Sat 7 a.m.â€“ 10 p.m., Sun 7 a.m.â€“ 2 p.m. 104 Harbor Blvd., 850-460-2288. $ B l d Cuvee Bistro â˜… Fusion. Classic French, Asian and Mediterranean cuisine in a casually elegant atmosphere. Monâ€“Sat 5:30â€“10 p.m. 36120 Emerald Coast Pkwy. 850-650-8900. $$$ d Destin Ice Seafood Market & Deli â˜… Gourmet Take Out. Everything you need for a fresh and delicious meal. Choose from fresh fish and seafood items, pastas, salads and side dishes, Buckhead meats, decadent deserts, and an assortment of wines, cheeses, spices and more. Open daily 8 a.m.â€“ 7 p.m. 663 Emerald Coast Pkwy. 850-837-8333. $$ l d Dewey Destinâ€™s HarborSide â˜… Seafood. One of Destinâ€™s most popular restaurants serves up charm and awardwinning seafood in a quaint house overlooking the scenic Destin Harbor. Open daily 11 a.m.â€“8 p.m. 202 Harbor Blvd., 850-837-7525. $$ l d Dewey Destin Seafood Restaurant & Market â˜… Seafood. True local charm in an outdoor setting and some of the freshest seafood around. Open 11 a.m.â€“8 p.m. 9 Calhoun Ave., 850-837-7575. $$$ B
Donut Hole Bakery Cafe American. Head to the Donut Hole for an out-of-this-world breakfast or savory lunch â€” donâ€™t forget the cinnamon raisin bread. Open 24 hours. 635 E. Hwy. 98, 850-837-8824. $ B l Emerald Grande Resort Grande Vista bar and grill Seafood. Fresh seafood, steak, pasta, salads, sandwiches and more. Indoor and outdoor dining available. Full bar. Open daily 7 a.m.â€“10 p.m. Located in HarborWalk Village. 10 Harbor Blvd., next to the Marler Bridge, 850-337-8100. $$$ B l d
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Fudpuckerâ€™s American. Burgers, sandwiches and specialties like the Fried Fudpucker (triggerfish). Open 11 a.m.â€“10 p.m. 20001 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-654-4200. $$ d Graffiti Italian. Traditional Italian favorites and house specialties like seafood pizza. Sunâ€“Thu 5â€“9 p.m., Friâ€“Sat 5â€“10 p.m. 707 E. Hwy. 98, 850-654-2764. $$ d Harbor Docks â˜… American. This surf-and-turf restaurant offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. Open daily 5 a.m.â€“11 p.m. 538 E. Hwy. 98, 850-837-2506. $$ B l d Hard Rock CafĂŠ American. Rock â€™nâ€™ roll, great drinks and mouthwatering menu. Open daily 11Â a.m. 4260 Legendary Dr., Destin Commons, 850-654-3310. $ l d HARRY Tâ€™S â˜… Seafood. Lounge on the beautiful patio and watch the passing boats as you enjoy an endless variety of delicious dishes. Monâ€“Thu 11 a.m.â€“10 p.m., Friâ€“Sat 11Â a.m.â€“11Â p.m., Sun 10Â a.m.â€“10 p.m. 46 Harbor Blvd., 850-654-4800. $$ B l d Jim â€™N Nickâ€™s Bar-B-Q â˜… Barbecue. Southern smokehouse barbecue. Beer and wine. Open daily 11 a.m. 14073 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-351-1991. $ l d
Reservations 850-622-1500 Downstairs in the Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa Destin, Florida
116 Juneâ€“July 2013
Johnny Oâ€™Quigleyâ€™s â˜… American. Award-winning steak, seafood and barbecue in one of Destinâ€™s favorite sports bars. Monâ€“Thu 11Â a.m.â€“midnight, Friâ€“Sun 11Â a.m.â€“1Â a.m, Double Happy Hour Monâ€“Fri 3â€“6Â p.m. and 10Â p.m.â€“close. 34940 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-837-1015. $ l d Louisiana Lagniappe â˜… Cajun and Seafood. View the Old Pass Lagoon while dining on steaks and a wide variety of fresh seafood. Open daily 5â€“10Â p.m. 775 Gulf Shores Dr., 850-837-0881. $$ d Marina CafĂŠ American. Gourmet pizzas, Creole and American cuisine. Open daily 5â€“10 p.m. 404 E. Hwy. 98, 850-837-7960. $$ d
Miller’s Ale House ★ American. Quality food at a great value price in a casual neighborhood tavern atmosphere. Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sun 11 a.m.–12 a.m. 34906 Emerald Coast Pkwy. 850-837-0694. $ l d McGuire’s Irish Pub ★ Irish American. Drinks, steaks, burgers and fries and Irish fare. Open daily 11 a.m. 33 E. Hwy. 98, 850-654-0567. $$ l d
2012 Thank you for voting us “Best Restaurant in Okaloosa County!”
NOT JUST BAGELS ★ American. Bagels, breads, pastries, salads, soups and sandwiches. Mon–Fri 6 a.m.–3 p.m., Sat–Sun 7 a.m.–3 p.m. 4447 E. Commons Dr., Suite 112, 850-650-0465. $ B l Osaka ★ Japanese. Known for its sushi but serves a variety of dishes including chicken, steak and seafood. Lunch 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Dinner 5–10:30 p.m. 34845 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-650-4688 or 850-650-4689. $$ l d Pepito’s ★ Mexican. Voted Best Mexican on the Emerald Coast, locals love Pepito’s for its authentic Mexican cuisine and mouthwatering margaritas. Happy Hour specials all day Mondays, including small rocks margaritas and all beer and well drinks for $1.99. Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 757 E. Hwy. 98, 850-650-7734. $$ l d Poppy’s Crazy Lobster Seafood. Relax with us on the beautiful Destin Harbor and enjoy the best seafood in town. Toast the setting sun with a Crazy Lobster Cooler or any number of fun cocktails. Open daily at 11 a.m. HarborWalk Village, 850-424-6744. l d Regatta Bay Golf and Country Club American. Located inside Regatta Bay Golf & Country Club. Open to the public 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Variety of salads and sandwiches. Full bar. Specializing in onand off-site catering including weddings, receptions and special events. 465 Regatta Bay Blvd., 850-337-8888. $ B l d Ruth’s Chris Steak House Steak and Seafood. New Orleans-inspired appetizers, desserts and awardwinning wines. Mon–Sat 5:30–10 p.m., Sun 5:30–9 p.m. Silver Shells Resort. 1500 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-337-5108. $$$ d Sarah k’s gourmet ★ Gourmet Take-out. Chef-crafted, ready-to-heat cuisine. Jumbo lump crab cakes and fresh chicken salad are the house specialties. Open at 11 a.m. 34940 Hwy. 98, 850-269-0044. $ l d Tuscany Italian Bistro ★ Italian. Chef and owner, Guglielmo Ianni, prepares authentic Northern Italian cuisine using the freshest of ingredients, choice meats, fresh seafood and garden vegetables. Hours TBD. 36178 Emerald Coast Pkwy. 850-650-2451. $$ d ZoËs Kitchen American. Healthy sandwiches and salads. Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Destin Commons, 850-650-6525. $ l d
Fort Walton Beach Aegean Restaurant ★
Greek. Savor the flavors of the Mediterranean at this authentic Greek restaurant. Mon–Sat 10:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. 1259 Eglin Pkwy., Shalimar, 850-613-6120. $$ l d
Benjarong Thai Cuisine & BBQ Thai and Barbecue. Barbecue, chicken, ribs, steak and spicy Thai food. Lunch and dinner Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–9 p.m. 251 Mary Esther Blvd., 850-362-0290. $$ l d Ali's Bistro American. Seafood, steak, pasta, chicken, veal, sandwiches and salads in a casually cool modern space. Tue–Sun 11 a.m.–9 p.m. 171 Brooks St., 850-226-4708. $$ l d The Black Pearl Steak and Seafood. Dig into some coconut shrimp and a juicy steak while enjoying a lovely view of the Gulf. Located in The Boardwalk on Okaloosa Island. Open daily 4 p.m. 1450 Miracle Strip Pkwy., 850-833-3016. $$ d Buffalo’s Reef Famous Wings ★ American. This restaurant is famous for hot wings and cold beer. Ask about the daily specials. Tue–Sat open at 10:30 a.m., Sun open at noon. 116 Eglin Pkwy., 850-243-9463. $ l d Clemenza’s Uptown ★ Italian. This family owned restaurant features authentic Italian cuisine, a full bar and Mama Clemenza’s famous European Breakfast. Breakfast: Sat 8 a.m.–noon, EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
dining Sun 8 a.m.–1 p.m. Lunch: Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Dinner: Mon–Fri 5–9 p.m., Sat 5–9:30 p.m. Closed Sun. 75 Eglin Pkwy. 850-243-0707. $$ B l d Helen Back ★ Pizza. The world’s finest hand-tossed pizza and cold beer in a sports bar atmosphere. Locations in Pensacola, Navarre, Crestview and Valparaiso. Open daily 11 a.m.–4 a.m. 114 Amberjack Dr. 850-796-1451. $ l d
High Tide ★ Seafood. Delicious seafood dishes, award-winning gumbo and fresh Apalachicola oysters served for lunch and dinner. Mon–Sat 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. 1203 Miracle Strip Pkwy. 850-244-2624. $ Magnolia Grill ★ Steak, Seafood and Italian. Steak, seafood, pasta, soups, salads and desserts. Lunch Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Dinner Mon–Sat, open at 5 p.m. Closed Sun. 157 SE Brooks St., 850-302-0266. $$ l d Old Bay Steamer Seafood. Fresh, steamed and grilled seafood served in a lively atmosphere. Dinner served daily from 4 p.m. No reservations. 102 Santa Rosa Blvd., 850-664-2795. $$$ d Pandora’s Steak and Seafood. Early evening specials weekdays 5–6 p.m. Happy Hour weekdays 5–7 p.m. Weekdays 5–10 p.m. Weekends 5–11 p.m. 1226 Santa Rosa Blvd., 850-244-8669. $$$ d
Saturday 8am to noon | Sunday 8am to 1pm Reservations Encouraged 850.243.0707 UPTOWN STATION | 75 EGLIN PARKWAY | FORT WALTON BEACH
Pranzo Italian Ristorante Italian. The Montalto family has been serving classic and contemporary Italian cuisine in Fort Walton Beach for nearly 30 years. Dinner Mon–Sat, 5 p.m. 1222 Santa Rosa Blvd., 850-244-9955. $ d Sealand Steak and Seafood. Serving American cuisine as well as Thai offerings in a homey atmosphere. Lunch Sun 11 a.m. until. Dinner Tues–Sat from 4:30 p.m. 47 SE Miracle Strip Pkwy., 850-244-0044. $$$ B d Staff’s Steak, Seafood and Pasta. In operation for more than 100 years, Staff’s is the oldest family-operated Florida restaurant and a local favorite serving homemade American cuisine in a casual, rustic atmosphere. Open daily for dinner from 5 p.m. 24 Miracle Strip Pkwy., 850-243-3482. $$ d Sugar Mill Sweets ★ Bakery. Homemade baked goods and deli style sandwiches served in a casual atmosphere. Bakery hours: Mon–Fri 8 a.m.–3 p.m. Lunch: 10:45 a.m.–1:45 p.m. 913 Beal Pkwy N.W. 850-862-9431. $ l
Another Broken Egg café ★ Breakfast. Breakfast all day, plus sandwiches, patty melts, specials, soups, salads and desserts. Open 7:30 a.m.–2 p.m. Closed Mondays. (Open Memorial and Labor days.) 51 Grayton Uptown Cir., 850-231-7835. $ B Pandora’s Steak and Seafood. Warm, traditional steakhouse with early evening specials. Weekdays 5–10 p.m. Weekends 5–11 p.m. 63 DeFuniak St., 850-231-4102. $$ d Picolo’s restaurant Seafood. Dine on delicious fresh seafood while listening to live music. Open daily 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–10 p.m. 70 Hotz Ave., 850-231-1008. $$ l d Red Bar ★ American. A favorite among locals, visitors and celebrities and a must-visit when in Grayton Beach. Kick back on the funky furniture and listen to live music while enjoying great food and cocktails — especially the award-winning Bloody Mary. Breakfast 7–10:30 a.m., Lunch 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Dinner 5–10 p.m. Bar open 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–midnight. Cash or check only, no credit cards. 70 Hotz Ave., 850-231-1008. $$ B l d
Trattoria Borago Italian. Enjoy a balsamic-laced pork tenderloin or pan-seared grouper from the open kitchen. Open 6 p.m. daily. 80 E. Hwy. 30A, Grayton Beach, 850-231-9167. $$ d
Aegean Restaurant ★ Greek. Sip an ouzo at the beautiful stone bar before savoring the flavors of the 118 June–July 2013
Mediterranean at this authentic Greek restaurant. Breakfast 8–11 a.m., Lunch 11 a.m.– 4 p.m., Dinner 4–9 p.m. 11225 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-460-2728. $$ B l d Another Broken Egg café – On the Bay ★ Breakfast. Breakfast all day, plus sandwiches, patty melts, specials, soups, salads and desserts. Open daily from 7 a.m.–3 p.m. The Village of Baytowne Wharf, 850-622-2050. $ B Bistro Bijoux ★ Steak and Seafood. Coastal cuisine with a New Orleans flair. Fresh seafood daily. Featuring our signature dish — “Black Skillet” filet mignon topped with a tempura-fried lobster tail. Open daily 5–10 p.m. Village of Baytowne Wharf, 850-622-0760. $$$ d Cabana Café. American. A casual poolside restaurant serving made-to-order salads, savory soups and chowders, deli-style sandwiches (with homemade bread!), savory build-yourown burgers and quesadillas, stone-fired pizza, pasta and more. Sunday brunch. Full bar. Open 11 a.m.–2 a.m. Mon–Sat and Sundays from 9 a.m.–2 a.m. Happy Hour 11 a.m.–7 p.m. Karaoke and live entertainment. Located on the ground floor of Ariel Dunes in Seacape Resort, 112 Seascape Drive. Come see us in our new location inside Hurricane Lanes in Destin. Ask about the locals discount. 850-424-3574. $$ l d Cantina Laredo ★ Mexican. Boasting a contemporary décor and fiery flavor, the new addition to Grand Boulevard offers gourmet twists on Mexican favorites. Save room for dessert, and check out the Sunday brunch. Sun–Thu 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m. 585 Grand Blvd., 850-654-5649. $$ B l d Carrabba’s italian grill Italian. Flavorful dishes, including calamari, chicken Marsala, fresh fish, seafood and grilled steaks. Open Sun 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Mon–Thu 4–10:30 p.m., Fri–Sat 4–11:30 p.m. 10562 W. Hwy. 98, 850-837-1140. $$ d Fat Clemenza’s ★ Italian. Feel like part of the family as you enjoy homemade classical Italian cuisine. Lunch Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–2 p.m. Dinner Mon–Wed 5–9:30 p.m.,Thu–Sat 5–10 p.m. Holiday Plaza/Hwy. 98, 850-650-5980. $$ l d Elephant Walk American. Rediscover the signature dish, Grouper Elizabeth, and relive the nostalgia and charm that is the incomparable Elephant Walk. Enjoy attentive service, excellent continental cuisine, a dynamic wine list and panoramic views of the Gulf. Serving lunch seasonally and dinner daily 5–10 p.m. Beachside at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy West. 850-267-4800. $$$ l d Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar ★ Steak and More. This award-winning restaurant offers prime steaks, chops, chicken, seafood, fresh salads and a variety of unique sides and desserts served in a comfortable but elegant atmosphere. Featuring 100 wines by the glass. Open Mon– Thu 5–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 5–11 p.m., Sun 4–9 p.m. 600 Grand Blvd., 850-269-0830. $$ d Lillie’s On Pigs Alley Barbecue. For lip-smacking good barbecue, try Lillie’s sandwiches, ribs, beef or chicken. The restaurant won the Barbecue World Championship in Memphis in 2007. Open Tue–Sat 11 a.m.–7 p.m. 9848 W. Hwy. 98, 850-654-3911. $ l d Lin’s Asian Cuisine Asian. Chef Qun Lin whips up steaming portions of your favorite Chinese and Southeast Asian dishes. Open Mon–Thu 10:30 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 10:30 a.m.– 9:30 p.m., Sun noon–9 p.m. 130 Scenic Gulf Dr., Suite 5B, 850-424-5888. $ l d Marina Bar and Grill American. Seafood, po-boys, burgers, salads overlooking the Baytowne Marina and Choctawhatchee Bay. You catch 'em we cook 'em service. Open daily 11 a.m.– 7 p.m., Breakfast Sat–Sun 8–11 a.m. Kitchen closed Mon–Tue. Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort, 9300 Emerald Coast Pkwy. West., 850-267-7778. $ B l d Marlin Grill ★ Steak and Seafood. Fresh seafood, steaks, salads and appetizers served inside or outside. Open nightly at 5 p.m. Village of Baytowne Wharf, 850-351-1990. $$$ l d The Melting Pot Fondue. Dip into something different and enjoy an interactive, hands-on, fourcourse dining experience with a cheese fondue, salad, entrée and chocolate fondue dessert. Open Sun–Thu 5–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 5–11 p.m. 11394 Hwy. 98., 850-269-2227. $$$ d Mitchell’s Fish Market Seafood. Chef-driven dishes such as Cedar Roasted Atlantic Salmon or HoisinGlazed Yellow Fin Tuna. Lunch Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–4 p.m., Sun 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Dinner Mon–Thu 4–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 4–11 p.m., Sun 3–9 p.m. Grand Boulevard Sandestin, 850-650-2484. $$ l d EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
dining P.F. Chang’s China Bistro ★ Asian. Sample crunchy lettuce wraps or Chinese favorites like Kung Pao Chicken in a chic atmosphere. Open Sun–Thu 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m. 10640 Grand Blvd., 850-269-1806. $$ l d Pepito’s ★ Mexican. Voted Best Mexican on the Emerald Coast. Authentic Mexican cuisine, delicious margaritas and weekly specials. Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 11225 Hwy 98, 850-269-7788. $$ l d Poppy’s Seafood Factory Seafood. Enjoy fresh seafood, steak and poultry dishes with a view of the bay. Open 11 a.m.–9 p.m. daily. Village of Baytowne Wharf, 850-351-1996. $$$ l d Royal Orchid ★ Thai. Escape to Thailand at this authentic Thai restaurant. Sink into a traditional sunken table surrounded by pillows or dine American style at a table or booth. Thu–Tue 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. Closed Wed. 11275 Emerald Coast Pkwy., 850-650-2555. $$ l d Rum Runners American. Caribbean/coastal/Mediterranean menu with sandwiches, seafood, steaks, chicken and pasta. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Village of Baytowne Wharf, 850-267-8117. $$ l d Seagar’s Prime Steaks and Seafood ★ Steak and Seafood. Premium steak, fresh seafood and caviar. Open 6 p.m. daily. Hilton Sandestin. 4000 S. Sandestin Blvd., 850-622-1500. $$$ d
Tommy Bahama’s Restaurant & Bar ★ Caribbean. Get a taste of the islands with jerk spices, fresh fish and the best desserts on the coast, as voted by readers of Emerald Coast Magazine. Open Sun–Thu 11 a.m.–11 p.m. Fri–Sat 11 a.m.– midnight. 525 Grand Blvd., 850-654-1743. $$ l d Vin’Tij Wine Boutique & Bistro ★ American. Traditional favorites and unique house dishes. Open daily 11 a.m.–midnight. 10859 W. Emerald Coast Pkwy., Suite 103, 850-650-9820. $ld
margaritas and all-day Monday Happy Hour special. Open daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m. 4585 E Hwy 20, Suite 100, Niceville, 850-279-4949. $$ l d TradeWinds Italian. A cozy favorite among locals serving heaping portions from old family recipes. Enjoy a number of pasta variations as well as seafood, chicken, veal, steak and thin crust pizza. Expansive wine and beer list. Reservations required. Open Tue–Sat 5 p.m. 205 Government St., 850-678-8299. $$ d
Santa Rosa Beach
Beef ‘O’ Brady’s Family Sports Pub American. Wings, sandwiches, salads, burgers. Open Mon–Sat 11 a.m.–11 p.m., Sun noon–10 p.m., Happy hour Mon–Fri 3–7 p.m. 4540 E. Hwy. 20, 850-897-3964. $ l d
98 Bar-B-Que Barbecue. Four generations have perfected Southern barbecue served with your favorite sides. Lunch and dinner, 11 a.m.–8 p.m. Mon–Sat. 5008 W. Hwy. 98., 850-622-0679. $ l d
Compass Rose Restaurant and Bar Caribbean. Waterfront dining overlooking Tom's Bayou. The cuisine is coastal with a Caribbean West Indies flair. Enjoy Happy Hour, daily specials and Sunday brunch. Tue–Thur 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Fri 11 a.m.–10 p.m., Sat 4–10 p.m., Sun 10 a.m.– 3 p.m. 303 Glen Ave., 850-389-2125. $$ l d
Amore Pizzeria Italian/American. Serving gourmet pizzas, wings, salads and panini sandwiches in a family-friendly atmosphere. Mon–Fri 11 a.m.–3 p.m. for lunch and 5–9 p.m. for dinner, Sat 11 a.m.–9 p.m., Sun noon– 9 p.m. Closed Tue. 95 Laura Hamilton Blvd. in Gulfplace (CR 393 and 30A), 850-267-2202. $l d
One 20 A Modern Bistro ★ American. Modern American cuisine specializing in seafood, steaks and local fresh produce. Lunch: Tue– Fri 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Dinner: Tue–Sat 5–9 p.m., Brunch: Sun 11 a.m.–3 p.m. Closed Monday. 120 Partin Drive North, Niceville, 850-729-2120. $$ B l d Pepitos ★ Mexican. Locals love the authentic Mexican cuisine,
Basmati’s Asian Cuisine & Sushi Asian. Asian dishes and full sushi bar. Open 4 p.m. daily. 3295 W. Hwy. 30A, 850-267-3028. $$ d Café Tango American. Seafood, poultry and pasta served with specialty sauces. Homemade desserts. Open Tue–Sun 5–10 p.m. 14 Vicki St., 850-267-0054. $$$ d
18 Hibachi Tables Sushi Bar ~ Private Dining Happy Hour Specials 4–6
Sushi ~ Take Out Authentic Japanese Cuisine
Located in the Village of Baytowne Wharf ™
120 June–July 2013
850.650.4688 or 850.650.4689 34745 Emerald Coast Parkway / Destin
Fire American. With New Orleans natives in the kitchen, it’s no surprise that this casual fine-dining restaurant is hot. Lunch Thu–Fri 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Dinner Mon–Thu 6–9 p.m., Fri–Sat 6–10 p.m., Brunch Sun 11 a.m. 7 Town Canter Loop, 850-267-9020. $$ l d Fish Out of Water Restaurant Continental. Southern coastal cuisine with an Asian flair: tuna, crab cakes, shrimp and scallops. 5:30–10 p.m. daily. Located in the WaterColor Inn, 850-534-5050. $$$ d Louis Louis American. The only thing that isn’t over the top at Louis Louis is the menu pricing. The Moulin Rouge-inspired interior décor is outrageously wonderful. Dine outside or in. The menu has six tasty items, from crab cakes, panned chicken, blackened fish and a few pastas. Mon–Sun 5–10 p.m. 35 Mussett Bayou Rd., 850-267-1500. $ d VKI Japanese Steak House & Sushi Bar Asian. Using the freshest ingredients this Japanese gem serves up tasty Habachi-style stir-fry meals of steak, seafood and chicken prepared at your table as well as artfully prepared sashimi and sushi rolls. Open daily. Lunch 11 a.m.–3 p.m., Dinner 4:30–9:30 p.m. 4552 Highway 98, Santa Rosa Beach, 850-267-2555. $$ l d Vue on 30a American. Seafood, beef, poultry, lamb, veal, pastas, soups and bisques. Open Tues–Fri 11 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Wed–Sat 5–9 p.m. 4801 W. Hwy. 30A, 850-267-2305. $$ l d
...on the ha
ing uneiqnuues Featurh nig tly m
Seaside & Seagrove Beach
723 Whiskey Bravo American. Steak, seafood and casual “beachy” bites. Relax on the rooftop bar with Gulf view. Open daily from 11 a.m. Brunch on Sundays. 3031 Scenic Highway 30A. 850-213-0015. $$ l d Angelina’s Pizza & Pasta Italian. Authentic homemade pizza pie and Italian dishes in a casual atmosphere. Lunch and dinner daily: 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m. 4005 E. Hwy. 30A, 850-231-2500. $ l d Bud & Alley’s Restaurant American. Serving fresh seafood, steak and vegetarian options. Open 11:30 a.m. Mon–Fri. Roof bar open 11:30 p.m.–2 a.m. in summer. 2236 E. Hwy. 30A, 850-231-5900. $$$ l d
BEST SEAFOOD 2010-2012
Full Bar • Outdoor S ea
Lunch menu available 11AM-3PM
Open at 11AM • Closing hours vary by season 202 Harbor Blvd., Destin • 837-7525
Café Thirty-A Seafood. Seafood, lamb, duck, filet mignon and pizza. Open daily 5 p.m. 3899 E. Hwy. 30A, 850-231-2166. $$ d Crush American. Crush features an extensive wine menu, sushi and small plates. Open daily for lunch and dinner, noon–10 p.m. 25 Central Sq., 850-468-0703. $$ l d Great SOuthern Café Southern. Jim Shirley serves up Southern comfort food with a twist. Open daily for breakfast 8–11 a.m., lunch 11 a.m.–4 p.m., dinner 4–11:30 p.m. 83 Central Sq., 850-231-7327. $$ B l d La Botana Tapas. Small plates of Latin-inspired cuisine served in a casual but elegant atmosphere. Wine bar. Lunch and dinner Mon–Fri 4–11 p.m., Sat–Sun 11 a.m.–11 p.m. 4281 E. Hwy. 30A, 850-231-0716. $$ l d
ts bo • Sandwiches • Steamed Seafoo d • Fried Seafood Baske Gum
...overlooking Crab Island
La Cocina Mexican Grill & Bar Mexican. Traditional Tex-Mex with a coastal twist. Open daily 11 a.m.–3 p.m. and 5–9 p.m. Bar open until 10 p.m. 10343 E. Hwy. 30A, 850-231-4021. $$ l d Old Florida Fish House and Bar Seafood. Rustic seafood restaurant featuring a new take on old seafood favorites. Full bar. Dinner daily 5 p.m. 5235 Hwy. 30A, 850-534-3045. $$ d V Seagrove Restaurant Seafood. Chef David Cunningham serves up fresh seafood and produce that is locally sourced in a resort casual atmosphere. Open Tue–Sat at 6 p.m. Closed Sundays. 2743 E. County Highway 30A, Seagrove, 850-468-0973. $$$ d Seagrove Village Market Café Steak and Seafood. Enjoy surf-and-turf and a glass of wine, then shop for gifts and souvenirs in the adjacent gift shop. Open 10:30 a.m.–8:30 p.m. daily. 3004 S. County Rd. 395, 850-231-5736. $$ l d ec
Open 7 days a week • 11AM -‘Til 9 Calhoun Ave., Destin • 837-7575 BOATERS WELCOME!
EmeraldCoastMagazine.com June–July 2013
the last word
The Back Roads of Memory Reminisces About the Search for His First Car By Jason Dehart
n early 1987 I was 16 and got my license to drive. What could top the electric sense of freedom that comes with having an operator’s license? Owning my First Car, of course. In the Central Florida farming and cattle communities where I grew up, most teenage boys worked tending cattle and crops — either for Future Farmers of America or for their dads. The vehicle of choice was a pickup truck — customized, modified and perfect for hauling hay, feed and the occasional “Farrah-haired,” blue-jeaned girlfriend. My older brothers’ tastes in vehicles were as different as night and day. The middle brother (the buttoned-down Beta Club president) had a VW, and my oldest brother (the FFA member) had a flatbed 1965 Chevy pickup. If memory serves, both were financed in some part by me and my savings account, which thanks to my part-time job starting at age 11, was stocked with cash. As I entered teen-hood, I realized I wanted a car to set me apart from my truck-owning friends. And besides, according to my grandfather, you could carry hay and feed just as good with a car as a truck (I hadn’t planned on carrying anything but the Farrah-haired, bluejeaned girlfriend … whenever she came along). Early on in the car-hunting process, I hankered for a classic 1965 Mustang. My dad dismissed it as not being “practical” enough, always harping about getting a car with four doors, so I could carry more people around in the event of the occasional wedding or funeral. My dad humored me and looked over a couple Mustangs, but something always defeated the dream. Sometimes it was a mechanical problem; mostly it was a money problem. So I revamped my wish list. While wondering about the next thing, I fantasized about buying and completely renovating my uncle’s classic Dodge Charger — putting on new chrome mag wheels, painting it glossy black and putting flames on the hood. Talk about a pipe dream — my uncle still has that rust bucket. My next dream car was a 1978 Chrysler Cordoba. Not quite as flashy as a Mustang, but sleek, powerful-looking and cool. I was accustomed to driving big Chrysler products; the family car at the time was a 1972 Plymouth Fury Custom Suburban station wagon with a 400 under the hood and enough room to carry a tuba and half the brass section from the Wildwood High School Wildcat Marching Band (it could also carry three rolls of barbed wire, several bags of F-R-M chicken feed and a yearling calf, but that’s another story).
122 June–July 2013
The author poses One cold and windy January day in 1987, my with his first car, dad and I were touring a used car lot in Ocala. a two-door 1978 A Cordoba had attracted my attention, but it Cutlass Supreme, on prom night. turned out a little bit more used than I wanted. But next to it was a clean little yellow, twodoor 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. An Olds wasn’t quite what I had in mind as far as a sporty first car, but there was something appealing about the modest Cutlass. It was tight — when I sat behind the wheel and closed the door; the noise from the howling wind disappeared completely. The amenities consisted of a plain but comfortable split-bench seat, an AM-FM radio and a V6 engine. On the test drive, both my dad and I were greatly impressed by the performance. The engine hummed, the radio worked fine and the steering was, well, you could thread the eye of a needle with it. It was that good. It wasn’t quick or flashy, but it was just sporty enough. A low-key, unpretentious kind of sporty. Eighteen-hundred dollars later, she was mine. I was 16 going on 17, down to my last few months of high school, graduating with honors, working a part-time job, looking forward to going to college and now owning my first car … I was on top of the world. The only thing that would have made it absolutely perfect would have been the existence of a cute, bubbly girlfriend to share the experience. But, a lass? There was none. I forget how many miles I racked up on that car. I drove it at least 40 miles a day for three years, commuting to and from community college; then it carried me through two years at the University of Florida, a few trips to Sarasota visiting relatives and at least one wedding (but no funerals). I drove it even though it developed a leak in the rear floorboard, which allowed water to seep in (in the bitterly cold and wet winter of 1989 it had rained so much that 2 inches of solid ice formed). By the time I sold the old Olds in 1995, I was satisfied that I had wrung every bit of mileage out of it. Today it’s probably rusting away in some junkyard somewhere. But it’s still riding the back roads of my memory. ec
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