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 PCBDaily.com 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, http://novelavenue.com, contribute to wordpress.com, 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 pcbdaily.com! The first impression given from a restaurant will fuel the whole rest of the visit (or lack of). They quickly greeted me with a hearty “Good morning!” as I came in, and then let me know I could sit anywhere I wanted. I took a seat, and a second later, there was someone offering me a menu and asking if there was anything they could get for me right away. Wonderful service continued to be given, and didn’t slow at any point. Personalized, and friendly to every guest!

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

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

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

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

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

Links to the Other Articles

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

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

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.