Beach Biz

Bartender Contest at The Gulf

WHO: The Gulf Okaloosa Island WHAT: CALL FOR BARTENDERS! Battle at the Bar benefitting Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge DESCRIPTION: The Gulf restaurant on Okaloosa Island is now officially accepting applications for bartenders to apply to compete in their Best Bartender Competition sponsored by Ketel One. The Gulf will select 15 bartenders for this exciting craft […] Read More

Best Kept Foodie Secrets in South Walton

By Caroline Giddis The area around Scenic Highway 30A has quickly become known for its amazing selection of high-end restaurants, but we have quite a few laid-back hot spots that are hidden just off the beaten path. From unassuming lunch eateries to tucked-away wine bars, we’ve rounded up some of the best-kept foodie secrets in South Walton. Pickle Factory Pizza, Thai food and pickles… what? You can get all of these somewhat random options and more at Pickle Factory, which shares the name of a restaurant that chef Jeffrey Fehr opened in Bangkok, Thailand. The laid-back restaurant in Grayton Beach focuses on creating a friendly atmosphere and delicious pizza with a wide variety of exotic flavors to choose from. Fehr traveled to Italy in 1996 to study how to make the perfect pizza, which paid off as his pizza became a favorite in Bangkok and is now a favorite in South Walton. Pickle Factory doesn’t have a set closing time at night, instead they close when everyone decides to go home – a true testament to their love of people. Chanticleer Eatery Tucked off the road leading into Grayton Beach, Chanticleer Eatery can be easy to miss, but definitely shouldn’t be. What was once a lunch counter with walk-up ordering (and long, but quick, lines) has grown into a table-service restaurant serving both lunch and dinner. Chanticleer demonstrates that you can make delicious food without all the fuss, as long as every ingredient is fresh. With both indoor and dog-friendly outdoor seating, it’s a great place for all ages and breeds. Our recommendation: the “pick two” option with half Southern Summer Salad and half Chanticleer Grilled Cheese – it’s everything you’ve ever dreamed of (plus bacon!). Don’t leave without getting a white chocolate coconut or chocolate-chip cookie. Lumpy’s Wine Bar & Bottle Shop Dogs and wine, wine and dogs: this was Lumpy the dachshund’s vision for his wine bar, which has become a very popular secret spot for humans and their furry friends. Located in Baytowne Wharf, Lumpy’s boasts an extensive wine selection. The menu includes a few appetizer cheese plates to snack on while sipping your favorite pinot, cabernet or chardonnay. They also serve mixed drinks and coffee. Lumpy’s celebrates Sommelier Saturdays and Wine Down Wednesdays by offering great deals and fun events each week. It’s the perfect place after a ruff week! La Chalupita Mexican Market La Chalupita is so authentic and delicious, you’ll want to extend Taco Tuesday to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. (We do!) This lunch counter will transport you to a small town in Mexico, where the food is fresh and flavorful. Tacos are the way to go, whether it’s chicken, steak or fish, and they have a number of toppings to choose from like avocado, radish and lettuce. The spicy sauces are great for dipping or pouring, but beware, some are SUPER spicy. You can also buy authentic seasoned meats and veggies from the restaurant deli to make your own tacos or quesadillas at home. Grayton Seafood Co. One of the newer restaurants in South Walton, Grayton Seafood Co. is a no-frills spot for some of the freshest seafood around. The restaurant has the feel of a quaint New England clam shack but with Florida charm. If you happen to catch some redfish or grouper on the boat one day, you can take it with you to Grayton Seafood Co. and they’ll cook it for you however you want – a well-kept local secret. They also have a great brunch menu with flavorful dishes like the crab cake benny and the oyster and tasso cream omelette. Yum! Johnny McTighe’s Irish Pub Tucked in an unassuming shopping center in Blue Mountain Beach, this hole in the wall is a locals’ favorite for pub and late-night food. It’s a great place to meet friends (new and old), grab a pint and chow down on fish and chips, hand-breaded chicken fingers, delicious string-cut french fries or tater tots smothered and covered with cheese and other goodies. Or try the Joey Bag O’ Donuts, a unique take on the Philly Cheese Steak. McTighe’s also serves up some great pizza, both to eat in or take out. With tons of delicious and interesting toppings to choose from, the combinations are endless. If you’re looking for some bar fun, McTighe’s has darts, foosball and a juke box. Caroline Giddis is a summer intern for The 30A Company. Read More

SunQuest Cruises Earns Coveted Travel Award

SunQuest Cruises has received a Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence award. The Certificate of Excellence accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. The accolade, which honors hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveler reviews on TripAdvisor. Establishments awarded the Certificate of Excellence are located all over the world and represent the upper echelon of businesses listed on the website. “There is no greater seal of approval than being recognized by one’s customers,” said James Murray,  general manager and owner of SunQuest Cruises. “Since the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Award is based on customer reviews, this accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our business and our continued commitment to excellence.” Book a dinner cruise online now. Guests have consistently written positive reviews on about the variety of dining experiences offered on the SOLARIS yacht, including sunset and fireworks dinner cruises, anniversaries, birthdays, group outings, weddings and receptions. The 125-foot, three-deck SOLARIS yacht cruises weekly from the Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort for Fireworks Sunset Dinner Cruises, weddings, groups and more. The chef-prepared, fine-dining options include prime beef, fresh local seafood, special event menus and catering. Patrons consistently post pictures and compliments on the service, food, live music, atmosphere, sunset and overall cruising experience. “With the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor honors hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travelers,” said Heather Leisman, vice president of industry marketing for TripAdvisor. “This recognition helps travelers identify and book properties that regularly deliver great service.” For more info, visit or call 850-650-2519. Read More

Chiringo: Grayton Beach’s Newest Hot Spot

Chiringo, the newest addition to the Grayton Beach neighborhood, has recently opened in the location formerly occupied by Stinky’s. The casual eatery has undergone an extensive remodel, including reopening the upstairs patio, creating a beautiful, open-air space with a view of the Gulf of Mexico. The restaurant was inspired by chiringos or chiringuitos, small open-air beach bars that dot the coast of Spain. “Our philosophy is to create both an ambiance and offerings that are simple, fresh and flavorful,” said Andy McKoski, partner and founder of Chiringo. “Grayton Beach has a rich heritage and culture all its own, and we hope to complement the fun, funky vibe of this awesome community.” Chiringo is a collaborative effort between acclaimed Atlanta chef, Cesar Velazquez; restaurateurs, Lance Jaglarski and Andy McKoski; and businessman David Huckeba. Located across the street from the Red Bar, the restaurant is one of a few South Walton restaurants that offers a view of the gulf. To maximize this benefit, the second story was fully renovated to include vibrant yellow retractable garage doors that create an inviting open-air dining room. Meet owner Lance Jaglarski: The renovated downstairs bar features street-side access, comfortable outdoor seating and the same retractable garage doors enhancing the casual, beach bar vibe. “While researching our concept, we traveled to Tarifa, Spain, where locals gather at colorful beachside shacks along sunny beaches to socialize, drink and eat,” said Velazquez, Chiringo’s chef. “The overall atmosphere and attitude was so similar to what we felt in Grayton Beach that it just felt like the natural place for Chiringo to be born. “Once we found this location, we knew this was it.” The Chiringo menu showcases coastal cuisine from around the globe with a strong Southern influence. Check out this Facebook video, shot LIVE at Chiringo: Chiringo in Grayton Beach, FloridaWe were LIVE from Chiringo in Grayton Beach today…. Check it out: Posted by 30A on Tuesday, May 24, 2016   From Escabeche to Mojo Pork, the menu celebrates some of the most popular dishes from beaches around the world. Fresh gulf seafood is prepared in a variety of styles with flavors ranging from spicy to savory. Small and large plates are ideal for sharing with family and friends. A kids menu ensures there is something enjoyable for every member of the family. Behind the bar, fresh fruit and vegetables are blended for refreshing cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks. A diverse selection of beers, wines, sangrias and spirits are also available. For more info, visit Chiringo, call 850-267-0109 or email Read More

Camp 30A: A New Outdoors Adventure Camp For Kids

Looking for some fun for the kids? Camp 30A is the only outdoors adventures camp for children in South Walton. Held at Grayton Beach State Park, the day camp gives kids ages 6-12 a chance to explore the sand and the sea, the longleaf pine forest and the coastal dune lakes. Camp leaders take kids on paddle board adventures, kayaking, hiking and even snorkeling. Book your day camp now. Michael Harrison, the camp’s director, has worked with kids camps for over 20 years and always dreamed of starting his own. The area around Scenic Highway 30A seemed like the perfect spot. “At Grayton Beach State Park, we have the Gulf of Mexico, but not only that, we have the lakes, we have hiking,” Harrison said. “It really lends itself to a great, unique camp experience.” Harrison has always loved working with kids, especially when he can introduce them to something they haven’t experienced before, like snorkeling or kayaking. “If you’re showing them something that’s maybe a little different, something they haven’t done before, they’re going to be really enthusiastic,” he said. “And kids are just fun to be around.” Learn more and book your day camp online. Read More

New Development Coming to Watersound Origins

The Watersound Company has announced a new development phase for the Watersound Origins community. The new phase should be complete by summer 2017. The phase will consist of 107 new lots adjacent to Watersound Origins’ activity center, the Village Commons. Home packages and lots will be available next summer—homes that are currently available in the community are listed in the mid-$400’s range. “We are thrilled for the new development phase of the Watersound Origins community,” said Bridget Precise, vice president of development. “In the last two years, we’ve seen almost 125 new homes built in the community, and we are excited to keep growing that number.” As part of this, the company is also planning a permanent realignment of the Watersound Trail, which will continue through the new phase. Spanning five miles between Walton and Bay County, the Watersound Trail winds through St. Joe’s timberlands, beginning at the Village Commons and then connects with Gayle’s Trails in the Panama City Beach Conservation Park. “We are proud to build a community that promotes a healthy, active lifestyle,” Precise said. “We are looking forward to reopening the Watersound Trail in 2017, which is accessible in the Watersound Origins community and open to the public for walking, jogging or bicycling.” These new additions will further enhance the unique outdoor amenities that are offered to Watersound Origins homeowners and to the surrounding community. For more info on home ownership opportunities, visit or call 866-563-0070. Read More

Sandestin’s Marina Bar & Grill Earns Coveted TripAdvisor Award

Marina Bar & Grill was recently awarded the 2016 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel site. Now in its sixth year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience. It accounts for the quality, quantity and recency of reviews submitted by travelers on TripAdvisor over a 12-month period. To qualify, a business must maintain an overall TripAdvisor bubble rating of at least four out of five, have a minimum number of reviews and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months “We are very proud of Marina Bar & Grill for earning the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor,” said Robert Kallmeyer, director of operations at Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort. “This award truly represents the voice of the customer, and this accolade is evidence of the hard work and dedication of our staff.” Heather Leisman, vice president of industry marketing at TripAdvisor said the award helps customers idenify restaurants that regularly deliver great service. “TripAdvisor is proud to play this integral role in helping travelers feel more confident in their decisions,” she said. For more info, follow Marina Bar & Grill on Facebook. Read More

New Vending Machine Concept Carries 30A Gear

Vending machines are not just for chips and candy bars any more. At least not the kind Scott Turner runs. Turner’s business, TBOX, operates a series of high-tech vending machines across Northwest Florida where customers can purchase t-shirts, hats and now even 30A Gear. Turner’s concept is part of a growing movement for businesses to provide higher-end products in vending machines. Red Box, the movie rental kiosks, may be the most popular in the United States, but people across the globe have started using vending machines to sell everything from iPods and phone chargers to shoes. “Once we got into researching it ourselves, we found these kind of machines are popular in Asia and Europe, but not a whole lot of people are doing it in the states,” said Turner, who started out with ice vending machines, but quickly saw a need for something more. A vending machine can serve as a pop-up store — without the expense of overhead — and the concept is catching on. “It helps businesses expand to an area they might not be able to otherwise, to have a presence without having to have a storefront, staffing and all that goes with it,” said Turner. The technology has come a long way since the days of coin-operated soda and snack machines. Turner’s machines use LED lights and a system of infrared sensors so the machine conserves energy when not in use. All merchandise is tracked electronically, as well, which helps decrease the business’s ecological footprint. In years past, vending machine stockers had to travel with a big semi-truck full of products and assess what needed to be restocked on site. Turner can use a compact car to visit and restock machines. He knows exactly which products and how many he needs before he ever leaves the warehouse. Customers make purchases with credit cards and if any problem arises, the machine sends a text to Turner and he can operate it remotely to provide whatever customer service is needed. 30A Gear vending machines are in place at HarborWalk Village, Destin Commons, Silver Sands Premium Outlets and Pier Park. You can buy t-shirts, hats, drink huggies, license plate decals, Tervis tumblers and even coffee. “With the technology available, these things are pretty amazing,” Turner said. “They’re eco-friendly, business and customer friendly. We’re really excited to have them out there for people to use.” Read More