New Series: 7 Local Restaurants the Tourists Don’t Know About

Who’s That Girl?

Ok, first of all, let me introduce myself…because you don’t know me yet.

My name is Marie Rivera, and I am the newest writer for pcbdaily.com! Panama City Beach has been my home for a grand total of 14 years, and I’ve loved every second of it! I am quite passionate about the people, places, and events in the area, and jumped on the chance to contribute my discoveries and thoughts on happenings around Panama City Beach!
My First Undertaking

My original idea for my first article started out as just that; one article. The more I delved into it though, the more my mind began spilling over with things I wanted to say and information I wanted to include. That’s when I decided that I would overload you with everything I have in mind for my entire first week with Pcbdaily.

So, with that said, I am going to write a series of articles with the goal of putting the word out for local-favorite restaurants in the area, as suggested and voted on by over 650 random PCB natives. When I say random, I mean that I went all around the area asking PCB residents at Pier Park, Gulf Coast, the beach, the navy base, etc. about their favorite  local hot-spots away from the mobs of beach invaders.

I began just asking for suggestions to put together a list, and was given about 45 places, which was a lot more than I anticipated from the first 75 or so people. I was pretty sure I’d hear names of local restaurants that I was familiar with, but more often I heard things that have never went through my ears before. This definitely intrigued me, and convinced me that I was getting myself into a lot more than I thought. But then again, this is the whole point of the articles, right?

It was definitely crazy trying to get the list down to where I needed it, but I just ended up narrowing the voting list down by only using restaurants that were suggested 10 or more times. That made it so much easier! I noticed too that the locals tended to choose places that were close to where they lived as their favorites, which is probably why I still hadn’t heard about some of the restaurants that were voted for. Although I obviously wasn’t incredibly familiar with the hot spots chosen, that’s exactly what made this so enjoyable! I was able to taste new flavors and experience new environments that seem to fuel the love for life on the beach! So incredible!

I am entitling the series “7 Local Restaurants the Tourists Don’t Know About”. Why 7? Because it’s my lucky number. No, in all reality, I chose 7 so I could feature 1 local hot spot each article that I had been to over the course of a week. I’ll probably get an article out every couple of days. Then, as a bonus, I am going to write an eighth article for a restaurant that really should get more traffic; not only in my opinion, but in many others’ in the area.

Sound good? Just keep your eyes peeled for my details of good eatin’ all around the beautiful Panama City Beach! 🙂

Links to the Articles

Ready to do your homework on the must-eat-at local restaurants? Click on the links to the articles to see what’s in store for you!

Tuesday Breakfast: Fatty Patty’s Cakes & Cafe

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

Target at Pier Park Prepping for A Looming Standoff

This week Target at Pier Park plans to open it’s new (and highly anticipated as far as I am concerned) produce section, which may or may not be news to you, but could make for quite a standoff in the very near future. As I am sure you’ve read, a plan to build a new Walmart within shouting distance is presenting a potential showdown. But, underlying what could be a price/food/clientele war are the whispered perceptions of what adding a Walmart around the Pier Park area could do to Pier Park’s brand. This war, it seems, will extend beyond the aisles of the respective super-stores and into the dining room discussions of residents all over Panama City Beach in terms of how it will affect things like traffic, businesses and, of course, the inevitable growth towards the West End.

For now, at least, we can all rejoice in the fresh and high quality produce headed our way. In fact, Target is actually a Certified Organic Produce Retailer, which means that much of what you will see in the store should be pretty tasty. And although Target’s offering will not be a substitute for a full-service grocery store, it should make the popular store more of a one-stop-shop.

The war is looming, no doubt, but Target’s little addition is a welcomed one.

“Bridging the Gap” With Sober Events In Panama City Beach

For people engaged in a battle with alcohol and sobriety, our area can be a constant temptation to stray from the road to recovery. Frozen daiquiris beckon from sidewalk stands, bars and liquor stores are a prevalent presence on nearly every block, and countless community events are enjoyed by countless attendees with drinks happily in hand.

For David Murphree, a co-founder of Bridging the Gap (BTG), a transitional recovery center in Panama City Beach, this fact was not lost during the recent Super Bowl. Murphree, who along with co-founder Dan Luoma, had struggled with watching previous Super Bowl’s at bars or friend’s house parties. The atmosphere, while normal to most, always seemed a little tense and uncomfortable.

“It just never feels quite right,” said Murphree in a BTG blog post recently regarding the ever- present lure of alcohol while watching previous Super Bowls. “And unless you have a pretty strong recovery program I certainly don’t suggest it.”

This year, Murphree and Luoma decided to cut out any social temptation from their Super Bowl festivities and organized a sober Super Bowl party of their own. The idea was to offer recovering addicts a safe and sober environment where they could relax and enjoy the game, complete with mounds of food and other traditional trappings, without the pressure of being surrounded by others who didn’t quite understand the everyday struggle of staying sober.

The event was a huge success and helped Murphree and Luoma realize there was a strong demand for sober events in Panama City Beach. Especially as Spring Break approaches and the lure for alcoholic pressure is at it’s greatest.

“I had so many people come up to me, truly appreciative of a place to watch the game with their families or friends and not have to worry about any of the drama that comes with alcohol,” Murphree said after the event. “Sometimes it is liberating to be shielded from temptation.”

Other attendees chimed in with rave reviews as well.

“It was such a pleasure to see so many people having such a good time, not a chemically induced good time, but a genuinely good time,” said one attendee.

“Priceless, so fortunate to be surrounded by such wonderful people,” said another.

BGT plans to hold the Sober Super Bowl party again next year and is also considering organizing sober activities throughout the rest of the year to provide Panama City Beach families the opportunity to partake in outings free from the drugs and alcohol that is frequently associated with those events.

“We think it’s important in early sobriety to learn that life is not only just as fun as it ever was, but even more so,” Luoma told the News Herald.

A Super Bowl ranks right up there with New Years Eve as one of the biggest drinking nights of the year…and many of us stay home to avoid getting into trouble,” Murphree added in his blog post. “In the future, I hope there are many options for ‘Sober Super Bowl Parties’. I know BTG will be one of them.”

Murphree and Luoma hope that is just one of many sober events to come throughout the year. For more information of Bridging the Gap, you can visit their website at www.btgrecovery.com or call them at 850-290-5975.

Panama City Beach Makes “10 Best” Beaches

If you didn’t already know, Panama City Beach is absolutely beautiful. To it’s visitors and residents Panama City Beach rivals any beach in the world in both beauty, excitement and accessibility. Well, now, we’re not the only ones. In a recent publication by “10 Best Reader Choice Travel Awards” Panama City Beach was ranked above Maui and was said to “deliver outrageous sunsets, funky tourist shops and affordable lodging. . . . not to mention all those bikini-clad girls at spring break time.”

Check out the full list here.

Should Gulf of Mexico be Changed to Gulf of America?

Yes, in the very same vein of the “Freedom Fries”, legislature has been introduced to change the name of Gulf of Mexico to the Gulf of America. The name change could mean a number of things, namely, a much more positive spotlight on our community and tons of press.

A recent MSNBC article stated that Mississippi state Rep. D. Stephen Holland introduced H.B. 150, “an act to provide that for all official purposes within the state of Mississippi, the body of water located directly South of Hancock, Harrison and Jackson counties shall be known as the ‘Gulf of America’; and for related purposes.”
Read the bill here.

This Tuesday, the bill will go before the Marine Resources Committee and is expected to get a hearing.

So what are your thoughts? If it came to a vote, would you vote to change the name?

Boardwalk Beach Resort to be Joined by an RV Park?

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties right on the gulf.  They range from 1 to 4 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurking at PCBLP.com.

There seems to be some popularity with the concept of using a motor-coach RV park as a last ditch effort to generate revenue on a vacant piece of land. This is a topic that’s come up before with the community standing up in opposition.

Well, it’s come up again.

The land that’s being proposed.

The subject land in the limelight is owned by Royal American Development and is the current home to the welcome center for Royal American Hospitality (same principal owners). The land is adjacent to the gulf front resort, Boardwalk Beach Resort and was originally intended to be phase II of the Boardwalk Condominium development.

The actual parcel itself is about 400 feet on the gulf and rests between the Top of the Gulf condominium resort and the Boardwalk Condominium tower.

A need to generate revenue.

The story here seems to be the same. The market tanked before they could sell the other building so it has sat pretty much vacant every sense.

As with the LaBorgata piece of land, you probably have a developer who spend a lot of money on the land, pre-development costs and is badly in need of a way to stop the bleeding.  I assume there are monthly costs associated with holding the land, an annual tax bill, etc.  Of course, this is just an assumption.

But the desire to turn a non-revenue generating parcel into something that makes money is honest enough, right?  But at what expense?

The plan.

On paper, the plan is to turn this into an RV park, although no conceptual plans were turned in with the rezoning request.  The land owner is requesting the approximately 5.6 acres be rezoned from T-2 to T-M.

As noted in the application Data and Analysis document, the reason for the request reads as follows:

The applicants have indicated that they intend to develop the site into an RV park.  However, if the rezoning were approved the site could be used for mobile homes, travel trailers, motor homes, motels, hotels, condos, town homes, apartments, churches, clubs, lodges, parking lots, parking garages and mobile home sales.  

It is the breadth of possibilities that seems to have local property owners up in arms.  The potential for developing anything that could adversely effect their property values in an already depressed real estate market is being reported as unnerving.

The document then goes on to read:

A plan amendment is not required for this request.  As such, the request is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan since the T-2 zoning district and the T-M zoning district are both part of the Tourist Future Land Use Map designation of the Comprehensive Plan.  This means the City must provide competent substantial evidence in the record of the meeting if it is to deny the request. 

Continuing later in the document:

Surrounding parcels are zoned T-M, T-3A and T-2.  Condominiums are located to the east (Top of the Gulf) and west (Boardwalk) of the subject site and an RV Park/Campground, T-shirt shop, and golf course are located across South Thomas Drive to the north.  A proposed RV Park on the subject property is compatible with the uses to the north. . . [With] adjacent property owners. . . the impact on property values of the condominiums is the potential issue.  As with all properties, if an adjoining property is not maintained and kept in a clean and neat condition; properties in the area can be adversely impacted. . . However, the applicant manages several units within the Boardwalk Condominium and will likely manage the subject property such that their values are not adversely impacted.  Whether an RV park in this area will diminish property values of adjacent condominiums is very difficult, if not impossible to determine. . . The RV Park/Campground across South Thomas Drive did not prevent the construction and increase in property values of the Boardwalk condominium. . .  For these reasons, staff cannot determine that the presence of an RV park on the subject property will cause an adverse impact to adjoining property values especially if the use is well maintained and managed. 

The document concludes:

Because the quest is consistent with the adopted Comprehensive Plan, the burden of proof is not with the owner but rather the City to base a decision on competent substantial evidence especially if the request is denied.  Based upon information gathered to date, Staff is unable to identify a substantial reason to deny the request.  However, judicial decisions have indicated that direct testimony of nearby property owners at a public hearing can be considered by a Board and used as competent substantial evidence in denying a request if such evidence indicated the owners will likely be adversely impacted by the approval of the request. 

What all this means and what to do (IMPORTANT).

I’ve been to a few of these meetings and the board is reasonable in hearing the opinions of the audience.  The developer should be amicable regarding the proposed development and how it will effect property owners, but if you’re an owner and you want your voice heard, you need to be at the meeting.

The document reads that there is no reason to deny the request unless the local property owners have substantial evidence that they’ll be negatively effected.

So, if you don’t like this, do your research on how this can be detrimental to your property, show up to the meeting with the facts, and be ready to present.  But, planning on coming to yell at the board, yell at the developer (or his engineer) or cite emotional turmoil won’t strengthen your argument.

The meeting will be held at Beach City Hall on February 13 at 2 pm cst.

So, what do you think, should they put an RV park next to Boardwalk Condominiums?

Readers of PCBDaily – The Old Gang is Back!

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurat PCBLP.com.

If you’ve been reading PCBDaily for a while, you probably remember a couple years ago when I sold PCBDaily to CYber SYtes.  You see, I had some grand plan that involved climbing the corporate ladder, at some point returning to school to get my graduate degree and just following where life took me.  Well, as life goes, the direction changed sporadically and somewhat unpredictably along the way.

Instead of climbing the corporate ladder, I accepted a position with CYber SYtes (who bought PCBDaily from me), and instead of going to graduate school, I decided to teach others how to do social media.  And of course, in the spirit of a true entrepreneur, working for someone else really began to wear on me.  So my wife and I started PCBLP.com, a vacation rental business, to build a more solid future for our kids.

So, that brings us to today.

After a year of explosive growth with PCBLP.com and almost exactly 2 years to the day, PCBDaily.com is back in the arms of it’s creator.  A part of me always resented the fact that that I sold it.  I know many of our readers certainly missed me.  But the last two years was necessary for me to be where I am and necessary for where the future of PCBDaily will be.

PCBDaily has always been the go to place for news and information specific to Panama City Beach and we want it to stay that way.  You’ve always been able to rely on us to find out what’s going on and keep tabs with the local current events.  We’re back, and we’re making plans for it to be even better!

But, I’m not alone.

I founded PCBDaily.com in 2006.  I ran it alone for three years but decided to instigate some growth in 2009 when I brought on board two very important assets.  With these assets, PCBDaily could have never instilled the value it now has today.  Each of them have been missing a part of their heart as the ownership of PCBDaily was held by CYber SYtes.

This second time around I have two partners in making the PCBDaily magic.  These two partners have always had as much passion for PCBDaily as I’ve had and offered not a moment’s hesitation when the opportunity of partnership came up.

Karen Smith

You probably know her.  Everyone knows her.  She’s the broker/owner of Beachy Beach Real Estate and her kind, fun-loving spirit, so generous she’ll literally give you everything she has and be thankful for the opportunity to do so is literally unforgettable.  She’s always had a passion for PCBDaily and she was one of our first paid advertisers.

She stuck with us from thick to thin and even stayed with it for the duration it was out of my hands.  She wrote for it when she could and she co-founded TheBeachShow with me in 2009.  She’s a real estate extraordinaire and has the awards to prove it.  And she’s so humble she’ll probably ask me to pull these glowing remarks down to subdue her blushing.

Now, she’s a partner in PCBDaily – part owner, equal contributor and 100% awesome.  You can expect regular episodes of TheBeachShow to come back and hear from her smiling face often about what’s happening in the real estate market.

Cebo Campbell

When I first hired Cebo to write for PCBDaily.com years ago, he was relatively new to the business community here, new to web development, but certainly not new to writing.  Having already been a published author, he certainly has taught me a thing or two.  He was, humorously, regularly dubbed my sidekick, of which a label did no justice for who/what he really was to me and PCBDaily.

Having grown to be not only my best friend (yes, Cebo, other than my wife, you are my BFF), he’s taught me about life, writing and work ethic.  While at first I was “mentoring” him on how to market, he’s far surpassed my skills and become a very high-paid talent to countless others around the country.  His skills are shown all over the place, and you’ll continue to see them as the future wears on.

His heart was always in PCBDaily and his passion was obvious in everything he wrote.  It really only made sense that he too was a partner in the new PCBDaily.  He’ll be writing about tourism, technology and current events.

What’s coming up.

PCBDaily has always been your source of news and information relating to real estate, growth and tourism in Panama City Beach, and it will continue to be so.  But, with that, we’re taking the reason for our being to a different level.  In years past, this was ran as a business – trying to generate revenue from ad sales.  Moving forward, there will be no drive to make money directly from ad sales.  In fact, we’re going to remove many of the ad spots, and won’t be taking any paid ads at all.

We want to provide quality information about the area and we hope that you’ll support us through our other businesses.

There will still be some ads.  Choice, non-competing businesses that want to trade some of their products or services will get in exchange the opportunity to advertise along with feature articles and Newsletter promotion.  But this will be kept at a minimum.

Plus, the newsletter will be redesigned and begin going back out weekly – I know a lot of you have asked for this.

We’d like to go back to having regular giveaways and contests and continue with community involvement.

We’re super stoked to have the team back together and to have PCBDaily in its rightful hands.  Tell us in the comments below what you’d like to see us do, moving forward!

 

Mitt Romney Surprises Panama City with a Visit

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurat PCBLP.com.

Regardless of your political affiliation, when a president or president hopeful comes to our neck of the woods, it’s something to take note of.  You may remember, not long ago President Obama came to our beach.  Love him or hate him, he’s still the president, and he along with all the journalists that were following him know about Panama City Beach.  Now, let’s add what could be our next President – Mitt Romney.  Grant it, we couldn’t get him on the beach, he was pressed for time, but at least our general area got some press!

Being a fellow Mormon, I have a natural attraction to Mitt and his position on how to run a country.  Of course, the fact that he runs a tight business ship and wants to make America better for business helps a lot too.  Being a small business owner myself, we need all the help we can get!

Anyway, I didn’t intend on this being a political soap box for me to share my views on who would be a great president (you can see why he’d be great here), just wanted to let you know he was here and share some pictures!

What do you want to hear about?

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found lurat PCBLP.com.

Ok, so I’ve worked out a deal with the owners of PCBDaily to be a regular contributor again, and I have some ideas on what to write about.  But, I want to hear from you what you’d like for us to report on.

There are a number of things going on up and down the beach.  Here is what I’m planning on writing about in the next couple weeks.

  • State of the real estate market
  • 2012 tourism predictions
  • Update on the Aaron Bessant Park improvements
  • Update on the Thomas Drive CRA construction
  • How to rent your condo all by yourself
  • Revise the Pier Park list of stores
  • Revise the Pier Park list of restaurants
  • An article on a new residential development

These are some of the things I’m planning on writing about.  What are some of the things you’d like to see?  Let us know in the comments below.

Pier Park Target Adding Grocery Ahead of Walmart

Jason Koertge has an awesome vacation rental business in Panama City Beach that focuses on remarkable properties around the Pier Park area.  They range from 1 to 3 bedrooms, they’re clean, and amazing.  He can be found at PCBLP.com.

With all the talk of Walmart coming into the area, it’s spurred even more activity.  Although Target’s making no claims of “keeping up with the Jones,” or in this case, “Walmart”, their push to add an expanded grocery section is certainly a plan to keep them ahead.  The Walmart that is being installed adjacent to Target, right across Powell Adams Road, is rumored to have a significant grocery area including produce and meats – although nothing official has been announced.

What we can expect at Target.

Target already has a pretty good grocery section.  It is certainly not Publix (or a Walmart Supercenter for that matter), but our family’s spontaneous needs can typically be met there.  They have milk, eggs, deli meats, some frozen foods, ice cream, cereal, chips, coffee, bread and tons of other essentials, and it’s all very fairly priced.  Shoot, we often do our grocery shopping there.

With the reorganization they’re adding fresh produce and meats and expanding on the other item types they already carry.  This will make them more of a one-stop shop and should bring in more grocery shoppers.  If it’s decent produce, it’ll draw our family in, along with countless others.

Target is also getting remodeled.

Just less than 5 years after opening, they’re giving the inside a significant overhaul.  You may have noticed the circus-tent-looking structure to the side of the building, next to the retired garden center – that’s the staging area for the work being done.

Expect new paint inside, new end cap designs, new isle layouts, isle shifts and a fresh new look.

When it’ll be complete.

Timing is everything right?  The new Walmart hasn’t even broke ground yet, much less begun moving dirt.  But the remodeled Target, groceries, and produce should be complete by mid-March.  Employees are expecting things to be ready for spring break.  This is well suited for what is projected to be, again, the busiest rental season ever.  As we just learned, last year broke records, if 2012 is better, then we’ll break more records.

What are your thoughts on the new Target? Do you think it’ll compete with whatever Walmart puts in?  Would you shop there?