Wednesday Dinner at J.Michael’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar

This is the second in a series of articles in which we explore 7 Local Restaurants the Tourists Don’t Know About.

For this place, I had to come two different times to get information for my article. I made the trip there mid-week last week during lunch time, but upon walking in, I knew that was a mistake. It was busting at the seams! It didn’t look like there was but one table open. I asked to speak with a manager to see if there was a later time, and was told to come back one of the following days in the mid to late afternoon.

The second time I came in, I was able to speak with J.Michael’s daughter, Rachel, for a little while. She also gave me the number to contact J.Michael so that I could talk to the founder of this incredible joint himself. I gave him a call as I was leaving the restaurant and he told me to come right on back in because he wanted to give me a taste of what it was all about! Of course, I was more than willing and excited for this treat!

With that said, here is what J.Michael’s is all about!

All The Basics

Who to go to?                        J.Michael’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar

What they serve?                   Lunch and Dinner

Where to be?                         3210 Thomas Drive, right in front of the light before the Bay bridge

When to go?                          Everyday, 11 AM — 10 PM 

How to reach them?               (850) 233-2055

How much to pay?                 About $10 for lunch, and around $15 for dinner

The Food

Ok, so according to Rachel, the most popular (cough, cough PACKED) times to eat there are either lunch on Wednesdays or Thursdays, or for dinner on weekend nights. I definitely saw how busy it can get when I came the first time. It was insane that I had never peeked my head in the place before with how much traffic it has. Apparently, my parents were ahead of me, seeing as they had already eaten there a couple of times before. I can’t believe they ate at J.M’s without me.

Any how, they offer a great selection of home-cookin’, turf, and plenty of surf. For starters, J. Michael’s is definitely the “oysters-can-be-made-basically-however-you-want-to-eat-them-at-any-quantity” kind of place, and it’s amazing. They have your classic reubens, favorite fish sandwiches, and big half-pounder burgers, while offering a flavorful top sirloin, a variety of shrimp dishes, and hearty seafood gumbo.

The local picks (other than the oysters) tend to be their steak, roast beef supreme, or shrimp J.Michael. Rachel’s, J.Michael’s, and most of the employees’ favorite meal is their red beans and rice, though. This great selection of food is all homemade, of course, right down to the cocktail sauce! And as you may have also assumed, the seafood and breads they serve are all from local suppliers. Awesome, right?

In addition, they claim to offer the coldest draft beer in the area! I wouldn’t know though, because well, I can’t, nor would choose to drink at all. So anyway, you guys will have to find out for me, and comment below to put this mystery to rest!

The People

To start off, this joint has had the same owner for 35 years now: J.Michael Stuart. He’s done a great job of making it incredibly family oriented, kid-friendly, and locally populated, with the help of his daughter. When a restaurant is family owned and operated, you know you’re in for a great time, with some good food, all in a pretty neat environment. Even though all of J.Michael’s employees aren’t family members of his, they all act like they are. You can tell that they have such a fun time at work, always helping each other out, cracking jokes on their fellow “siblings”, and daring to poke fun at “Boss-man” when they get the chance. Laughter lives at J.Michael’s! Together, they’ve all helped to serve 2.3 million people, just last year!

I was quite impressed by how dedicated J.Michael is to his business. He doesn’t just watch it run itself, like some restaurant owners do. Oh, no! The first thing he did when he came in for the day was to go behind the side bar, slip on a glove and start shuckin’ oysters with employee Tyler. I was sitting right in front of Tyler, just chatting, when he entered, so I wasn’t entirely sure that was even the owner until someone called him “Boss-man”. He shucked until he and Tyler were done with all of the many orders of oysters, and I thought that was pretty darn cool.

It shows how confident in his business J.Michael is, as he tells me that they “make it right”. It doesn’t take conviction from him for me to believe it, either. To those of you that have never checked them out before, J.Michael states how they “are like a book you’ve never read with an ugly cover. But don’t be afraid to come in, see what the stories are all about, and give it a try!” It was incredible timing after he said this, seeing as a few seconds following, a customer walks up to him and says, “I want to shake your hand. This is the first time me and my family have eaten here, and we were really impressed at what a nice job you do. Good food, and great service!” That, right there, is what happens when you read the J.Michael’s story.

The Environment

J.Michael’s has had three different locations, each one being more successful than the last. No matter what the location, though, people continually brought in things for him to put up all around the restaurant. The decor is certainly consumer oriented, with dollar bills and surfboards covering the beams on the ceiling and sections of the wall that aren’t already plastered by locals’ photos and seaside motif.

The place most certainly feels out-on-the-bay, with a southern touch. For instance, there are guns hanging everywhere! J.Michael told me that he started out with 2 or 3 guns, but once people saw he had those, many others decided to give him their rifles and such as well. So, he just started hanging them off of the ceiling. I thought it looked pretty neat!

My Take

When J.Michael told me he would “give me a taste”, I had no idea he meant he would give me four different dishes to try! But they were oh-so-wonderful! First I tried the employee favorite: red beans and rice. It was a total southern flavor, with nothing frilly. It was just good, hearty food; just like how it would be made at home. Next was the seafood gumbo. I could taste how very fresh the seafood was, and the blend of flavors overall was super nice.

Next, I tried the famous Shrimp J.Michael, which had such a strong homemade essence, exploded with freshness, and had a wonderful slight spiciness attributed to just the right amount of curry. For all 3 of these dishes, I found myself using all of my bread to sop up all of the leftover sauces and juices!

Last but certainly not least, J.Michael ordered me up a fried shrimp basket. Those, i dare say, were THE BEST fried shrimp I have ever had, and I’ve had a lot of fried shrimp. They were so big and plump, had the perfect seasoning, a nice light breading, and were full of impeccable flavor so much that there was no dipping sauce required! Sooooo good!

I know it’s not just talk when J.Michael told me, “Our #1 goal is the customer, and that has to come out to produce joy, quantity, quality, and price.” As far as I’m concerned, they get a check, check, check, and check!!!

Quick Pics
Links to the Other Articles

Introductory Article: 7 Local Restaurants the Tourists Don’t Know About

Tuesday Breakfast: Fatty Patty’s Cakes & Cafe

 

Tuesday Breakfast at Fatty Patty’s Cakes & Cafe

 This is the first in a series of articles in which we explore 7 Local Restaurants the Tourists Don’t Know About.

This was the first place I was able to go to, and I was happy to find that I actually knew the owners! Renee Schaarschmidt, who used to operate a wonderful and successful cake decorating business in conjunction with her cafe on the West end of the beach, had been the one to make my Sweet 16 birthday cake! In addition, I had grown up going to school with her daughter Kerstin (another baker extraordinaire). This is exactly what these articles are all about! It’s personally knowing the people and becoming friends with other locals, purely over the fact that both parties love great food.

So, anyway, all you need to know about a visit to Fatty Patty’s is below.

All The Basics

Who to go to?                        Fatty Patty’s Cakes & Cafe

What they serve?                   Breakfast and Lunch

Where to be?                         948 Thomas Drive, right across from the Navy Base (NSA PC)

When to go?                          Monday — Saturday, 6 AM — 2 PM

How to reach them?               (850) 236-9276 or (850) 236-9277

How much to pay?                 Just under $10 per entree

The Food

I was a bit surprised, upon viewing their menu, at everything they had to offer!  For breakfast they have a variety of different breakfast plates, sandwiches, and burritos, as well as several eggs benedicts, french toasts, pancakes, waffles, and omelets. When it comes lunch time, they can serve you up a burger, muffaletta, crab cake basket, or one of their numerous salads, deli-style sandwiches, or other kinds of awesome sandwiches. LOTS of choices.

If that wasn’t already enough to choose from, Fatty Patty’s has an ever-changing list of weekly specials, both for breakfast AND lunch. I’ll let you know what the remainder of the week has to offer farther down yonder in today’s post.

So pretty much, they can serve you whatever your heart desires!

The most popular plates ordered (other than the daily specials), per owner Renee, are the breakfast burrito, the cafe breakfast, and the classic eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce. Sounds good, right?

On top of that, there are so many desserts made fresh every day to spoil your sweet tooth! Mmm!

The People

You can tell from the moment you walk in the place that this crew is like family to each other. It’s great to sit and watch how they interact with one another, and how they seem to work so well as a team. I ADORE that! Having been on the other side of the counter in the past, I’ve learned that there is not any other way whatsoever to be successful in food service if it is not a team effort. The key: you have to actually like the people you work with. These people really care about each other and the artful creations they produce. Hence, awesome food.

I know the military members must LOVE having Fatty Patty’s just across the street from them!

The owner, now a good friend of mine, says her traffic has more than doubled (maybe even tripled), since her move from West End PCB Parkway (AKA Back Beach Road or Hwy 98). Unfortunately, she now only decorates cakes for close friends and family since it has proved to be too much to handle on top of her current shop. But never fear, there are PLENTY of pastries to go around! The love for baking has not at all disappeared from this eatery. Yay for yummies!

 The Environment

The greatness of Fatty Patty’s doesn’t stop with the people or food. The shop is decorated in a beachy motif, to create a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere. There are all of these adorable brightly colored lizards, flowers, and pictures scattered around the place, which give a nice little touch of brightness to the walls. Overall, quite cute.

I love their little quote on the front of their menus as well, reading “For the little Fatty Patty in all of us”. Gives a nice little touch, for sure.

My Take

I hereby give my stamp of approval.

I tried the Muffaletta when I made my visit. I am somewhat of a muffaletta fanatic, and have been searching the globe (more like the Bay County limits) for the best one in existence. This one took me one bite to know that I was going to return in the future for my fix. It was pretty darn authentic compared to other’s along the beach, too.

One thing I learned about the Fatty Patty’s operation from Renee was that she gets as much of her ingredients fresh from local providers, right down to the coffee. In addition, everything is completely homemade. You can totally tell when eating their food, because there is nothing generic about the taste here. Freshness and quality have always been incredibly important to me, and they get an A+ in those categories!

Everyone was so very nice to me from the moment I set foot in Fatty Patty’s; and that was before they knew I was going to feature them on pcbdaily.com! The first impression given from a restaurant will fuel the whole rest of the visit (or lack of). They quickly greeted me with a hearty “Good morning!” as I came in, and then let me know I could sit anywhere I wanted. I took a seat, and a second later, there was someone offering me a menu and asking if there was anything they could get for me right away. Wonderful service continued to be given, and didn’t slow at any point. Personalized, and friendly to every guest!

Overall, I quite enjoyed my visit to Fatty Patty’s Cakes and Cafe, and will be sure to return during my weekday lunch breaks!

Quick Pics!
Bonus: The daily specials for the rest of this week

Wednesday: For breakfast, 2 eggs your way, a grilled muffin, and home fries. For lunch, hamburger steak and gravy with mashed potatoes, greens, and cornbread.

Thursday: For breakfast, a half order of French toast, and your choice of bacon or sausage. For lunch, chicken casserole, pasta, green salad, and garlic bread.

Friday: For breakfast, a sausage or ham & egg biscuit, and your choice of home fries or cheese grits. For lunch, beef tips, rice, black eyed peas, and a cheddar biscuit.

Links to the Other Articles

Introductory Article: 7 Local Restaurants the Tourists Don’t Know About

Wednesday Dinner: J.Michael’s Restaurant & Oyster Bar

Oyster Bash to Restore Sealab I

The Man in the Sea Museum, local secret, is scheduled to host a fundraiser to repair the Sealab I.

What is Sealab I?

First lowered in 1964 off the coast of Bermuda, Sealab I was an underwater laboratory for U.S. Navy divers.  It was submerged 192 feet with four divers and scheduled to stay for three weeks; however, due to an approaching tropical storm it was removed after 11 days.  The Sealab I allowed for proof that saturation diving in the open ocean was viable for extended periods and provided information about habitat placement, umbilicals, humidity, and helium speech descrambling. Sealab I was tested off the waters of Panama City Beach, FL.

How Will They Raise the Money?

Man in the Sea will hold an Oyster Bash at The Dive Lab on January 20th, 2012 from 3pm-7pm.  (The Dive Lab is located at 1415 Moylan Road, across from Panama Jack’s.)  Aiming to raise $250,000 for the restoration and a structure to contain and display Sealab I, the Oyster Bash will kick-off the fundraising program.  This is the first Oyster Bash, but if the event is a success, they are hoping to make it an annual one!

Tickets are for sale online and at the museum for $25, which will cover all-you-can-eat raw and steamed oysters, cheese grits, and hot dogs.  Beer will be available at an additional cost.  Table sponsorships are available for $500; includes ten tickets and ten beer mugs that can be refilled at no additional charge.

Will you help restore Sealab I?

 

Secrets of PCB – Salty Sue’s

Welcome to our Secrets of Panama City Beach series, showing you things about the beach, you’ve never dreamed of.

January is in the process of packing up it’s toys and that sneaky spring break season is peeking around the corner.

It’s still a bit chilly, but with a collective yawn, the whole town seems to be stirring from it’s sleepy winter mode and we are HUNGRY.

Continue reading “Secrets of PCB – Salty Sue’s”

Secrets of PCB – Close Encounters!

Welcome to our Secrets of Panama City Beach series, showing you things about the beach, you’ve never dreamed of.

Well the New Year is sure off to a chilly start! Don’t let the cool weather stop you from heading to the beaches. Some of the best times to be had at the beach are when it’s cooler and calmer.

Continue reading “Secrets of PCB – Close Encounters!”

Secrets of PCB – Good Eatin at the Docks

This is part of our Secrets of Panama City Beach series, showing you things about the beach, you’ve never dreamed of.

This week is a special treat for me because I have the opportunity to write about one of my all time faves!  Nestled under oak trees and sitting right on West Bay; Boon Docks Restaurant is a must try Secret of PCB.  The drive to Boon Docks does make one think you may be going in the wrong direction, but rest assured it’s there, just set back off the main road.

Continue reading “Secrets of PCB – Good Eatin at the Docks”

Secrets of PCB – Take Fido to the Dog Beach

This is part of our Secrets of Panama City Beach series, showing you things about the beach, you’ve never dreamed of.

The journey to uncover Panama City Beach’s best kept secrets and welcomed surprises continues with my second location in the series: doggie beach.  Traveling with pets have become increasingly common over the years and many people, tourists and locals alike, are unaware that there is a Florida state law that mandates that pets are not allowed on the beaches.

Continue reading “Secrets of PCB – Take Fido to the Dog Beach”