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.


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.


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.


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?


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 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:, (scroll down on this one),,

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:,,,

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?,,,

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 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.

New Series: Your Business on the Web

Anyone in business knows the web has changed and will continue to change the way they interact with customers. We live in an age where consumers are more empowered than ever, capable of searching through the fluff and using real time reviews to persuade their buying decisions. Any business that isn’t trying to keep up with technologies is getting left behind faster than ever. Question is, how do you stay up-to-date and aware of these constant changes? How do you create a brand on the web that is lasting and real? How do you use the web to create honest-to-goodness conversion? If you don’t know the answer to these, good news my friend, help is on the way.

If You Didn’t Already Know Me

Most of you who read know me as it’s most handsome and debonair writer, but, I actually spend much of my time developing the web. I own a successful creative web studio,, contribute to, design and develop web applications and have I have given countless seminars and workshops to businesses all across the country. I’ve won all sorts of design and development awards and receive regular client hi-fives. I have created and promoted brands, designed and developed dozens of websites locally and internationally, and work with clients and firms from places I can’t even pronounce.

Much of what I do centers around a simple web philosophy: it all works together. When I build a website or a web application, I consider more than just the build itself, but the end goal. How will this site promote itself, how will it lend itself to customer’s desires, how will we spread the brand out to make it accessible?

The reality is, a website is more than just a virtual brochure. It is your new storefront. It is, in most cases, the point of contact for your visitors and extends far beyond the pages of the site and into your social media presence, your ad campaigns and so much more.

I have seen and been contributor to incredible results and now I want to help you.

What The Series Will Discuss

This series is all about education.

Helping you understand how to leverage social media, email marketing, tips on how to engage consumers and create a web brand is the only purpose. It occurred to me during a recent seminar that, even now, many people I meet don’t know the meaning of SEO, retargeting or why having an authentic social presence can increase their business leaps and bounds. I receive questions like, “what can I do with my website to get more people”, “how can I get more fans on facebook”, “why should I be on twitter”, or “Isn’t email dead?” To me, the answers are simple, but to business owners, they neither have the time to learn or the money to pay a consultant and are left standing still while technology passes them by.

The truth is, your business on the web goes beyond traditional marketing and it’s value far greater than one-off ROI. In this series I will teach you web tricks, internet marketing techniques, give you the newest updates on technologies and answer any questions you may have about your web presence.

The first article in the series will be aimed right at the heart of the web business: Your website. What makes a website user friendly, what changes can you make on your current site for it to be more captivating and engrossing, and, most importantly, how can you get more people to your site and into a trackable conversion.

If you have any specific topics you’d like for me to discuss, feel free to drop a comment and I will see if I can make magic happen.

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! 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