Shoney’s in Pier Park is OPEN and it’s Delicious!

If you’re been looking for a fresh pick for your next breakfast, lunch or dinner, there’s a new kid on the block in Pier Park in West Panama City Beach. Shoney’s in Pier Park opened yesterday with their grand opening to take place next week. Today I had the opportunity to have a sit-down with one of their market leaders for lunch after a conversation with their CEO this morning.

Lunch was delicious, and their cordiality has been second to none. If they run their business half as well as they’ve treated me, they’ll be very successful indeed.

First Impressions.

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Ya know, I have to admit, with what little I knew about Shoney’s, I wasn’t particularly excited about one coming here. It’s not that I was unexcited, there just wasn’t any emotion at all.

But, since this is PCBDaily, and there’s an obligation to report on (if nothing else) something new, I figured I owed it to you; and them. My request for more information was interestingly responded to.

I was first called by the new Marketing Director of Pier Park, who told me someone from Shoney’s would be calling me. The next day I received a call from the Shoney’s Director of Marketing who said he was going to set up a call for me with the CEO. Reassuring him that a conversation with the CEO wasn’t necessary, it was insisted upon.

This morning I was connected with David Davoudpour, the CEO, who was just a flat-out nice guy. We had a great conversation for a few minutes and parted ways.

I texted the DOM for Shoney’s asking him if I could stop by for lunch and was treated to lunch by another senior staff member who spent more time with me than I do with any of my minions.

This morning, the CEO told me that they spend time and energy in community involvement, and I continued to feel that resounded over and over. Over the years, I’ve been treated to lunch, I’ve been given favors in hopes of a favorable word and the like, but they just made me feel good.

And I can tell you, they left a lifetime impression on me. And I’ll have no hesitation seeking them out when we travel or when we’re going out here locally.

This Shoney’s is different.

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Naturally, when you see a larger brand enter into a market for the first time in a while, or if they open a new location, you’d expect them to try some things differently. This is no different.

The Shoney’s in Panama City Beach is doing a few things differently, but they’re staying true to the heritage their CEO emphasized to me this morning: that they offer “good value, family American dining.”

Some of the things they’re doing differently here include having a full steakhouse menu, full bar (beer and liquor), completely different ambiance, they have a Hometown Cafe (espresso, latte and mocha), and they have outside patio seating (that seats 60).

And another huge difference, and I mean huge in the literal sense, is that this is the largest Shoney’s they have, ringing in around 7,200 square feet.

The food and the prices.

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When asked this morning what he thought Shoney’s was best known for, David Davoudpour told me “value, and fresh, quality food.” Rob, the representative that met me for lunch told me all the ingredients are fresh, nothing comes in frozen, and pointed to my onion rings stating they are all hand battered from fresh cut onions.

I have to admit, when Red Robin came in (right across the street), I was excited to try them, but I was disappointed in their price-point. I have a hard time taking my whole family there for less than $100. Remember, I have 5 kids.

When I was looking at the menu, I was impressed at the low cost of the items. It’s hard going out to eat around here without spending a fortune.

Davoudpour told me this morning that I had to try the burgers. So for lunch, I had an All American Burger, and was asked at the time of order whether I wanted pink or no pink. I chose pink and I was not let down. The burger was moist and tender, the bun was fantastic and the “fix ins” were perfect. The burger was perfectly adorned and it really was absolutely delicious.

As a side I got onion rings, and they were amazing as well.

My meal, with the water I ordered, would have been $6.99 plus tax. Not a bad lunch.

So, where are they?

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Remember that Cantina Mexican restaurant across from Red Robin? They shut down and Shoney’s filled in their spot. They’ve spend the last couple months building and the inside looks great. They’ve filled it out nicely and they have plenty of room for professional groups (hello IdeaCamp) and private parties.

So, Shoney’s in Panama City Beach in Pier Park. Try it. It’s fantastic and totally receives the PCBDaily’s Stamp of Approval.

Chateau Motel Hosts “Retake the Beach” New Years

With great success, the Chateau Motel, one of Panama City Beach’s vintage hotels, hosted an event they called “Retake the Beach”, the 1st annual celebration of the end of tourism season. Live music from bands like Heritage, Nothing Short of Pure, Kevin Jacobs, Nate Pennington and more, free food, free drinks, games, giveaways, football on big screen TVs and, best of all, an uncrowded beach just for you. The event was a hit for locals and locals-at-heart and, by popular demand, the Chateau Motel is bringing “Retake” back, this time a New Year’s celebration that will rival anything on the beach.

Imagine, if you will, avoiding the traffic and crowds for your New Year’s celebration and, instead, lounging on your beachfront balcony, a live band rocking the stage, while you sip on a midnight toast, enjoy the last seconds of 2012 and start 2013 with fireworks and good friends. Sound good? Yeah? Well here’s what you need to know.

Retake The Beach Details

Retake the Beach New Years will be held at the Chateau Motel on New Year’s Eve 2012, with live performances by Heritage, Kayavibe, and Nothing Short of Pure! The event will include music, a free midnight toast and fireworks. Rooms start at just $89/nt, and are expected to fill quick!

Go here for more information and reservations

Or call direct at 1.888.84.BEACH

Retake The Beach Gallery

Battleship Crossfit – Welcome to the Gun Show

Working out has never been as exhilarating and rewarding an experience as you will find at Battleship Crossfit.

Big time energy, power and passion are the standards at Battleship, and already locals are feeling the power and getting fit. According to Eberle Funches, one of Battleship’s owners, “We set our goals and we have already exceeded them.”

CrossFit describes its strength and conditioning program as “constantly varied, high intensity, functional movement, with the stated goal of improving fitness. Workouts are typically short—20 minutes or less—and intense, demanding all-out physical exertion. They combine movements such as sprinting, rowing, jumping rope, climbing rope, weightlifting, and carrying odd objects; they use barbells,dumbbells, gymnastics rings, pull-up bars, kettlebells, medicine balls, and many bodyweight exercises. In my short foray into CrossFit I have noticed that they seem to have their own language and an extreme passion for this brand of fitness.

Eberle, Wil and Mike admittedly have the same teaching style and according to Eberle and Mike it is part of teaching the proper technique. They explained to me that, “There is only one way and that is the right way.” How awesome is that!!!! They teach Olympic lifting so that those who participate can choose to compete or just use Crossfit as a way to enhance their life and health and fitness. Mike added that, “Olympic weight lifting is essential to the program because it is part of the crossfit games.”

If you have been aching to try the intense crossfit workout and experience the enthusiasm and excitement, there is no better time than this Saturday, September 15, 2012, when Crossfit will be hosting their GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION.

Contact Battleship

Battleship Cross Fit
7521 Holley Circle
Panama City Beach Florida 32408
GRAND OPENING Saturday September 15, 2012 9am

2 Free IMAX Tickets and 4 Free Standard Movie Tickets [GIVEAWAY]

If you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises—and better yet, seen it in IMAX—this is your chance.  Courtesy of The Grand Theatre in Pier Park, we’re giving away 2 free passes to experience a movie in the wonderful and exhilarating IMAX.

Last summer The Grand Theatre in Pier Park dubuted their new IMAX theater with the final installment of Harry Potter, The Deathly Hallows.  Since, they’ve played a number of hits in IMAX and IMAX 3D.  The current hit is The Dark Knight Rises, but on the schedule for this year include Skyfall, Resident Evil, Indiana Jones, and Frankenweenie.

What we’re giving away

This giveaway if for movie tickets to the Grand Theatre in Pier Park, is 6 total passes and includes:

  • 2 IMAX Courtesy Passes
  • 4 Standard Courtesy Passes (value of general admission)
There is one slight caveat – all passes expire at the end of December of 2012. 
How to enter

In the past, we’ve offered multiple ways to enter, but it’s so much more fun just to leave it right here on this post.  So, COMMENT TO WIN!.

In order to be considered an entrant, all you have to do is post a comment on this post (below) and we’ll randomly pick one super-lucky person to enjoy the passes.

The winner will need to come pick up the passes at our office.

Rules and other details.
  • Each entrant can enter once and only once (we can verify this by ip AND cookies) and must use a valid first name and email address if they enter in comments below.
  • Contest begins when this post is published and ends on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 at 5 p.m. CST.
  • We will be doing the drawing regardless of how many people enter.
  • A winner will be chosen at random.  There will be 1 winner total.
  • By entering you are opting in to receive future newsletters and emails from PCBDaily and you are opening yourself up to the greatest resource for news and information Panama City Beach has to offer.
  • If you are selected and you do not respond to our email notifying you of winning 48 hours of the contest ending, then we reserve the right to either keep the prize for another giveaway in the future or award the prize to another entrant.
  • This giveaway is open to anyone in the continental United States.
  • We will not ship or mail the tickets, they must be picked up at our office listed below.
  • Our office address is 12118 Panama City Beach Parkway, Suite 10, Panama City Beach, FL  32407
  • Read full rules here.

What is June Grass?

Almost every single summer, the beach in Panama City Beach is accompanied by a combination of green slimy stuff and chunks of prickly patches with tiny air bubbles.  Collectively, this is commonly referred to as June Grass, even though the two separate materials are completely different. “June Grass” certainly isn’t a scientific term and I never could seem to come up with when the term usage began.  Some will say it is specific to the green algae, others the sargassum, and still others will use the term to refer to both. Although they both seem to come to shore around the same time, they are different.  And one of them actually makes quite a journey to make it here.

Sargassum

Sargassum is a patchy material that consists of a leafy bunch interspersed with tiny air sacs.  The air sacs resemble small grapes and keep it afloat.  The material serves as a mobile home, of sorts, for all sorts of marine life.  The actual name is of Portuguese decent. Sargassum actually comes from the Sargasso sea, which is found in the north Atlantic.  It grows in very large, thick bunches and is broken apart by current and waves.  The broken apart pieces then multiply and grow on their own as they travel wherever the current takes them.  Sargassum can be found all along the east and gulf coast, and is a member of the brown algae family.

Green Algae

The very small, slimy green stuff we find floating in our waters is much different then sargassum in consistency.  This material makes the water seem soupy and the matter can infiltrate the smallest crack or crevice on our person.  It’s been joked about, used for mock costumes, and often found heavily caked on the shoreline in some areas.  All I can find out about the stuff is that it grows somewhere offshore and is prevalent in warmer waters.  During periods of rain, it can clear up a bit.

The presence of either material tends to be a constant topic of complaint on the beach during the summer months.  I’ve heard of people claiming their whole vacation was ruined from it.  Contrary, I’ve also heard some say they’ve experienced it almost every year they’ve vacationed here and have come to expect it.

In the past, countless blamed it on the oil spill – of course, it was as natural that year as it has been in every other year.  Some have claimed it’s worse now than it’s ever been, yet many others can recall its prevalence in quantity fluctuates from year to year and has for as long as they can remember.

I for one, can remember in 2002 when my cousin, Eric Koertge, came to town and the stuff was super heavy and very unenjoyable.  It was in our short pockets, leg hair, what little chest hair I have and caked on my skin – gross!  But I can remember years when I hardly noticed it!

What are your thoughts on this green and sometimes slimy stuff?

Pier Park Summer Concert Series Schedule

Ah, summertime.  When I think of it, almost every time without fail, a certain Sublime song begins to play in my head – nevermind the underlying story.  All I remember is “Summertime and the livin’s easy.”  And easy living will surely have this fantastic summer we have coming up.

Tourism numbers are up, the weather’s been perfect lately and today we’re announcing the lineup of this summer’s Pier Park Summer Concert Series!

The series is every Thursday evening and begins at 7 pm.

Pier Park Summer Concert Series Band Lineup and Schedule

June 7  — Eric Lindell

June 14 — The Black Lillies

June 21 — Telluride

June 28 — The Kevin Jacobs Band

July 5 — Heritage

July 12 — George Porter Jr. and the Runnin’ Pardners

July 19 — The Lee Boys

July 26 — Boukou Groove

August 2 — Heat and the Zydeco Gents

August 9 — Colin Lake

August 16 — The Barry Fish Band

Your Business On The Web: 11 Tips To Make Your Website Better

Business A and Business B sell identical products at different but highly competitive locations. Business A uses it’s website as a brochure, composing of a few static pages filled with text. Business B uses its website as a virtual brick and mortar store accessible from anywhere in the world. Business B’s website is well-designed to exude the “feel” of its business. The content on the pages are strategic, SEO friendly and is regularly updated with featured products. The site has user comments, reviews and a blog that is integrated into social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Which business do you believe has better numbers at years end? Better still, which business do you believe consumers will find in a search and be more inclined to recommend? If you said Business A, you can stop reading now.

Your website means more now than ever and its value will continue to increase in the coming years. Great-looking, highly functional and accessible websites are a must for any business, new or well-established. Building and maintaining a great web presence is not easy and should never be seen as a flash in the pan. It takes thought and dedication, and no $199-build-your-own site is going to produce the type of ROI a well thought-out custom site can. So how do you help your site perform? What should you consider when building a new site or updating a current one? Here are 11 sweet tips to help you achieve real success with your website.

1. Design For User Experience

Let’s say you run a law office. How would your users feel if your site radiated Crayola colors and was littered with flashy and glittering elements? Concurrently, if you ran a daycare, how would your users react to a site that was ultra-modern, using dark reds, blacks and browns? These things change the way a user “feels” and could negatively effect a potential conversion. Designing for user experience means you understand your business, understand your user and the site is designed to express and evoke desires. This was true long before the web. For example, restaurants can be designed for fun and families like Beef o Brady’s, or elegance like Firefly. Whole cities are designed around concepts, feels and an “experience.” When done well, the impact and purpose is immediate. The same can be true for your site. If, in your business, you want the user to “feel” the beach, then it should reflect in your website. If you want them to feel excitement and thrills, use bright color palettes and strong imagery. The key is knowing what you want and knowing your user and allowing the two to find each other. Here are a few examples of websites well-crafted for user experience: http://www.tnvacation.com/, http://benthebodyguard.com/index.php (scroll down on this one), http://www.le28thiers.fr/, http://www.kccreepfest.com/

2. Blog…or not

If you have ever sat in on one of my seminars, you know I believe blogging is the bees knees. Blogging, and by blogging I mean just updating your site with relevant information, is the central hub for your website, your social presence and your SEO. I think every business should post a new blog post at least once a week. But, blogging can be counter-productive. If I visit your site and see you have a blog, but also see you haven’t updated it since 2009, well, I will most likely not come back. Too often, business see blogging as just another thing to do. But, blogging is like putting out your own press releases. Even more importantly, the blog creates your “feed” to the web and allows your site to become a “speaking” entity rather than a static one. I often have local friends and clients tell me they have nothing to blog about. I tell them to grab a google alert for, say, Panama City Beach. And every day, google will email you a list of all the web articles on the web using that keyphrase You are bound to find something in there worth your two cents.

3. Don’t Sacrifice Good Content For SEO

For those who do not know what SEO is, it stands for Search Engine Optimization (how your site returns when certain words and phrases are searched in google, yahoo, bing..etc). For the last 7-10 years, websites have sacrificed good, valueable content for content thick with SEO phrases. While you may think, “adding Panama City Beach in every line of my site will get me ranked,” think about who the content is for: search engine bots or people? More importantly, it’s been a little over a year since Google released its PANDA algorithm update which ranks quality, original content higher than SEO rich content…and content is only as good as the people who read it. So write your content for your mindful visitor, not a mindless searchbot.

4. Have an About Us Page

In an era where the web is becoming much more personal, it is important to have an About Us page. Your business should have a story, and if it doesn’t, the people who work for it do. Tell it. Your user wants to hear it. Tell me when your business was established, what is its purpose and why it is more awesome than anyone else. And don’t be stiff, tell it honestly and forthright. Transparency on the web fits well into this new era as people seek out a personal touch and avoid corporation….which leads perfectly into the next point…

5. Avoid Mystery

How many times have you gone to a website looking to buy something but can never find the price? How many times have you gone to look at a real estate site and they ask you to sign up before you can look at any properties? Your site must be easy, smooth and obvious. Remember, users who are empowered with information are more likely to convert. If you do property rentals, show lots of high-quality photos and throw some real reviews in there. If you sell a product give the user a video on how it works, tell them the full price and all the features. If you groom dogs, show before and after photos, feature dogs of the month with their owner and give the user a virtual tour of your facility. Shine, don’t hide.

6. Have A Clear Focal Point

Too often websites don’t have a clear focal point. Either they are filled with text or have too many things equal in hierarchy. Creating a focal point is easy, choosing what it should be is not. Real Estate agents and brokerages have to ask themselves what is the most important thing they want visitors to see or do? You want them to see your latest property? Maybe go right to a property search? Hotels and Condos, do you want them to see your property features or search for units? Perhaps you are a shoe store, do you want to feature a tag line or showcase the lastest release? Whatever you choose, a good focal point is the most important step in conversion. I encourage friends and clients to decided for themselves what is important and make it the most visible element on the homepage using either size, color, location or all three to make it stand out. Here are a few examples of sites with a strong focal point: http://www.redbowlchallenge.org/, http://attackemart.in/, http://www.givebeyond.me/, http://thisisdk.com/

7. Use Typography Intelligently

Ah, my good friend typography. While many of you will skip this over, you don’t realize that on the web as well as print, typography is more important than imagery. Intelligent use of typography means your content hierarchy can delineated in a glance. Your heading font size, color, type, style and spacing is based on importance. Eyes viewing your website use your use of typography like signs on a highway, guiding them to what is most important. Don’t believe me? Check out these sites using typography and tell me you didn’t know just want to read? http://intellisult.com/, http://www.welovewebcomics.com/, http://www.leaderbe.com/, http://www.kitchensinkstudios.com/

8. Update Homepage Content

Your home page is the equivalent of your store window. If people are window shopping, you have to do more than just give them something to look at, but something new and relevant. Studies show, websites with updating content on the home page yield more return visitors than those that don’t. I mean, look at pcbdaily.com. The homepage changes constantly and people come back to see what is new. Even if you do something as simple as placing a changing feature on the sidebar, or a scrolling news ticker, your user will notice…and so will searchbots. Search engines love new content, especially on the homepage, like bees love honey.

9. Control User Interaction Through Navigation

We all know the importance of a smooth site navigation. But, navigation is more than having a bar across the top of the site. The key to controlling user interaction is a combination of limiting the number of things in the primary navigation and repeating the important things in different ways. Okay, so, I know that I want my users to go to my products page. I may have “Products” listed in the primary navigation, but I will also have a featured scroller showing images of my latest products and then, down the page, have a graphic logo that is linked to my products page and again in the footer a link to the products. What I am doing is creating multiple ways to reach one place and presenting them in different ways as to not overwhelm the user. In the end, they go exactly where I want. I encourage you to be leery of large, chunky navigations. Too many options create confusion and, eventually, a lost conversion.

10. Integrate Social Components

You see, just about everywhere, the facebook logo on websites. But, you can take the social component much further. Add additional sharing options (facebook, twitter, pinterest etc..) on pages, so people can share your site with friends and networks without having to “like” your page. Also, add the ability to comment on your blog posts. You can set up comments to require your approval before going live. A simple comment can create linkbacks, good user-generated content, SEO validity and, most importantly, site interaction with users. Also, collect email addresses on site to send email newsletters. Using your site to create a social environment is important is so many ways and can be relatively easy to set up.

11. Analytics

If you don’t have analytics yet, stop reading this and go get some right now. Analytics are the ultimate sources for understanding the type of individuals visiting your site and their habits. Analytics can show you what states and cites visitors are coming from, what links and pages are the most popular, daily visit numbers, average time on sites and pages and so much more. Here, let me give you a good example. I had a client who wanted to increase Spring Break numbers. We looked at the site analytics and saw an unusual trend. Site state by state visitors were ranked, 1. Illinois, 2. Wisconsin, 3. Ohio…all north and northeast. But, reservations and stays were ranked 1. Alabama, 2. Florida, 3. Georgia…all southern. This showed me that Northern students visited the site, but for some reason were not booking. We changed our marketing strategies and were able to reach out to those students, increasing their bookings exponentially and, in turn, boosting the bottom line. None of this would have been possible without site analytics.

Bonus: Contact Form or Live Chat

Here is an extra tip because I like you people. I have seen incredible results with the use of quick contact forms in visible places like the footer or sidebar. Unlike a contact page, these forms are simple, Name, Email, Message. People use these like mad. And if you have staffing to handle a live chat, I highly encourage this. Live chat allows you to talk real time with anyone looking but not converting. Most people in this day and age use the phone last. So, imagine if you could get them while they are researching information and make a sale, a connection or just provide good information. There are even proactive chats that will initiate contact if they have been on the page for more than a few seconds. Here is a link to my favorite chat.

Alright folks, my fingers hurt from all this typing. I hope you find this useful. Tune in next week for Your Business on the Web: Social Media Best Practices.