Beach Boutique Opening to Benefit Beach Care Services


Local Small Business, Miss Lori’s Boutique hosts Grand Opening Celebration Tuesday, July 23rd from 4 to 6 pm at her shop and is donating 5% of all sales to Beach Care Services.

A former Georgia girl, Lori who now calls Panama City home has found a way to connect her love of fashion, finding a good deal and helping putting a smile on other women’s faces with her new business on Thomas Drive, Miss Lori’s Boutique.  Lori now being a local herself was inspired by Beach Care Services’ motto “Locals helping Locals” and wants to make sure she is doing her part in her community.

Beach Care Services helps local residents who are in need of short term emergency assistance when life throws them curve balls, and being a single mother herself, Buckalew is no stranger to life’s everyday challenges.  She hopes that her business can not only help her make her own way, but be a vehicle to help others.

Lori Buckalew, has admitted to being addicted to the feeling she gets when one of her shoppers “walks out with a smile and feeling like a million bucks.”  Lori recognizes that many women in our area have a taste for designer labels but can’t afford the price tag that comes with it, a fact that moved her to offer designer resale items at her store Miss Lori’s Boutique, as well as new accessories and gifts.

Most of the items on consignment are pre-loved, but are in very good shape and no one would be the wiser, she says!  Lori also has a flair for arranging her pieces so shoppers can get ideas for their own wardrobe.  She loves putting an outfit together and is always eager to help her customers find an ensemble that works for them.  Customers can come play “dress up”, as she lovingly calls it, Monday through  Saturday from 11 am to 6 pm.

Residents are encouraged to come by Tuesday the 23rd for the Grand Opening Event from 4 to 6 pm at  2429 Thomas Drive.  There will be great deals, a wine tasting with light eats, giveaways and most importantly, a chance to support a local business owner as she supports Beach Care Services.

For more information, visit their Facebook page  or give Lori a call or text at 850-774-6572.

For more information about Beach Care Services, visit their Facebook page or their website at


Grand Lagoon Bridge Update [PICS]

Having broken ground almost 17 months ago, the Grand Lagoon Bridge is getting closer to completion every day.  The old bridge was a low restrictive thing offering a measly 10 foot clearance.  The new bridge will almost double that with a towering 18 feet of clearance.

Here are 5 fantastic facts on the new bridge which should be complete just before summertime.

Continue reading “Grand Lagoon Bridge Update [PICS]”

New Dollar General on Thomas Drive

Some of you might have noticed the excavating and construction going on at Thomas Drive and Luff Street. We took it upon ourselves to find out for you.

It is going to be a new Dollar General! It is being developed by Concept Construction and Development, and is the newest Dollar General in Panama City Beach. Concept Construction and Development has also built the Dollar General on 15th Street, 22nd Street and the one in Lynn Haven on Highway 390.

Continue reading “New Dollar General on Thomas Drive”

Is Pier Park Killing Thomas Drive?

The answer to the aforementioned question is no, Pier Park is not killing Thomas drive, at least not in a definitive way like maybe how Rock-n-Roll killed Disco. But if you take a drive down Thomas drive and absorb the lack of traffic and innumerable “for lease” signs dressing business windows, you’ll know instantly that, although Pier Park isn’t killing the area, its influence is eye-opening.

It should be noted that the overall effect is difficult to quantify because Thomas Drive is a street, not a destination like Pier Park, so the draw is somewhat unrelated. Thomas Drive also has two identities sundered just past Grand Lagoon Bridge at the perpendicular intersection where Thomas goes East/West. At that point, a business driven, Navy Base inspired four-lane highway transforms into a quiet, scenic gulf front strip; two completely different socioeconomic streets. Pier Park’s continuing popularity has affected them differently.

Since Pier Park’s unveiling, North Thomas Drive, running from bridge to bridge, has seen a surge in development. Restaurants like Hooter’s, Sake House II and, locally acclaimed, Donut Island have been opened and flourished off Navy Base business. After speaking briefly with Debbie Johnson, one of the Donut Island’s owners, she said with confidence, “We’re doing great and growing.” Further down, staple restaurants like Captain Anderson’s and Treasure Ship have done well and so has the general area, evidenced by the opening of a small business like Sweet Racks and the groundbreaking of a franchise like Jasmine Thai restaurant. North Thomas has seen developments all over the place since Pier Park opened.

The other Thomas Drive has seen exactly the opposite; no new developments and lots, LOTS, of businesses closing down. The question remains, is Pier Park the culprit?

Kat Meeks, owner of Liza’s Kitchen, one of the businesses on that picturesque strip of Thomas Drive that has been able to thrive, quite well in fact, despite Pier Park’s success, had an interesting take on the matter. “I don’t think Pier Park is killing Thomas Drive as much as it’s just changing it. Yes, more people are staying on the west end, but that’s okay. Thomas Drive, I think, is just becoming the local’s end of the beach.”

Her take was that Pier Park’s greatest effect on Thomas Drive is accelerating its natural evolution, one that will weed out businesses that don’t fit the mold. “Panama City Beach has its own subculture, y’know?” She said. “While locals go to Pier Park as the one-stop-shop, here on Thomas Drive you have condo owners, families and locals that support businesses. Locals need some place to go too and Thomas Drive is becoming that place. It’s the local’s place and is locally driven.”

And a local haven may very well be Thomas Drive’s inevitable progressive destination. When locals, repeat tourists, eco-tourists and snowbirds want to get away from the generic areas, there is but one place for them to land and that’s Thomas Drive. One possible key to making this work is for businesses to embrace that role; to fashion themselves to cater to the locals, some tourists and flourish during the off-season. The question is how to do that.

“We’ve been able to do more creative things and think outside the box.” Kat Meeks answered when asked how other businesses can compete. “You can’t just wait for people to come to your door. We have a lot of locals in this area that are looking for some place to go. We do everything we can to make sure they know we’re here.”

Strangely, what may affect Thomas Drive more than Pier Park could be the Grand Lagoon Bridge construction. “I’m nervous about it.” Kat said. “It has two sides. Once it’d done its going to be great, but the construction phase will be tough.”

It remains to be seen how quickly Thomas Drive will get over the Pier Park effect. One thing is for sure, it will be up to the locals and businesses to reaquaint themselves if Thomas Drive is ever to return to it’s beloved status.

Limerick’s Irish Pub Plans to Stay Up By Keeping it Down

img_8466You may not know of Limerick’s Irish Pub by name, but you know the address: 6628 Thomas Drive, home to several previous businesses, the most recent being Buckwild Saloon and The Shaggy Marlin both closed due to complaints from nearby residential area. You see, Limerick’s sits on what may be the most ambivalent location on all of Panama City Beach, perfect for drawing big crowds on Thomas Drive with very little adjacent competition while facing a row of seasonally-packed condos. At the same time the location is smack-dab in the middle of a quiet and easily angered residential area.

The stories behind the location have been many. You may remember when the property was known as Buckwild Saloon the establishment was sued Bay County and had its owners arrested on charges of violating a revamped noise ordinance. Residents in the area complained that the bar was too loud and its patrons overly raucous. There were also complaints of overflowing parking making it difficult, if not dangerous, getting in and out of the street. Buckwild owners agreed to renovate the property and change it to Shaggy Marlin by adding parking lot noise barriers and changing the building focus from a bar to a restaurant (although they still charged for cover). While loved by locals who didn’t live in the Thomas Drive area, the Shaggy Marlin was sent to court a second time during Spring Break. Officials said the Shaggy Marlin violated the prior agreement being both noisy and not operating primarily as a restaurant. Needless to say the place was put up for sale with Counts Real Estate Group, Inc and tagged with a stern warning from Bay County Commissioner Mike Thomas that whoever purchased the property must live by the guidelines set in the agreements with its previous owner.

All that bring us to now, the property has since been sold to a bank, leased to its current proprietors and dubbed Limerick’s Irish Pub. The name change has only been a part of an honest-to-goodness transformation. Since the property has been in opened, February 09, there have been no complaints. That time period includes Spring Break and Thunder Beach. Limerick’s, like its predecessor, still offers live music, only on the weekends, but the chosen bands are not quite as mosh-pit-inspiring. The bands also play only indoors. I personally spoke to several patrons and employees who all felt that the newly name and updated venue has serious potential or longevity. For one, the food is great; Limerick’s may very well have positioned itself as the best place on the beach for icy Appalachian oysters and a mojito. They’ve added security and decided to close its doors by 2 AM. In order to help drive business, instead of using the upper floor bar as another music-driven area, they’ve changed it into PCB’s only venue for the amateur poker league, free to the public. On top of all that, the proprietors have been in negotiations about purchasing the next door parking lot for added safety. One gentleman I talked to, who happened to be one of the complainers during the Buckwild-Shaggy Marlin era, said he now enjoys walking down the street to the Irish spot for the Beef and Guiness soup and a few oysters.

I’m glad to see such a great location for locals not go to waste. What do you think?

Episode #7 – Dirt Cheap Like New Home

The Beach Show is your ONLY internet TV show all about Real Estate on Panama City Beach.

Remember, it doesn’t cost anything to work with us if you are a buyer.

Call us at 866-994-1770 to see these properties or for anything else you need regarding real estate in Panama City Beach.

Show Notes

Deal 1 – Splash

  • List Price: $265,000
  • Square Feet: 1,074
  • Price/SqFt: $246.74
  • 2 Bedrooms, 2 Bath
  • Completed in 2006
  • Splash is well known for its stellar occupancy rates. The first summer season it was open to the public (I think 2007) I interviewed the GM of the onsite rental manager and he said they averaged 90% occupancy all summer. This is a foreclosure listing and the cheapest in the building (per sf). The condo is in good shape, although it needs some appliances. You’re paying for the amenities and the best rental capability on Panama City Beach.

Deal 2 – Ocean Ritz

  • List Price: $265,000
  • Square Feet: 1,322
  • Price/SqFt: $200.45
  • 3 Bedrooms, 3 Bath
  • Completed in 2006
  • Ocean Ritz is a quiet condominium tower with just over 60 condos total. All of the condos are either 3 or 4 bedrooms and location is perfect, right in the middle of Panama City Beach. The square foot is nice and the balcony is huge. The price per square foot on this condo makes this a real steal. Features include custom cabinets, granite countertops, 6″ baseboards and only 3 condos per floor.

Deal 3 – Off Thomas Drive

  • List Price: 167,900
  • Square Feet: 1,260
  • Price/SqFt: 133.25
  • 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bath
  • Built in 1995
  • This home is located just off of Thomas Drive on East Panama City Beach. If you are looking for a great starter or rental home, this is the one for you. The current owner has put in new everything down to the kitchen sink; new a/c, fixtures, stainless steel appliances, carpet, and tile. For the price, you just can’t go wrong, especially for something you don’t have to do anything to in order to move in. Of course, the fact that it’s three blocks from the beach and all the surrounding houses look great could help too.

Call us at 866-994-1770 to see these properties or for anything else you need regarding real estate in Panama City Beach.

New Top-Tech Helicopter at Beach Navy Base


A new MH-60S recently arrived at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City Division (NSWC PCD) bringing with it a new technological era for Airborne Mine Countermeasures. NSWC PCD will be outfitting the airframe with advanced technology bringing the Navy closer to adding an Organic Airborne Mine Countermeasures (OAMCM) capability as part of its forward deployed Fleet.

“It is an evolutionary step toward putting that capability resident within the strike group as compared to our historical approach to mine warfare. In the past when forward deployed forces encountered an area needing to be cleared of mines, we had to halt forces to move mine warfare assets into theater,” said U.S. Navy Mine Warfare Program Office Deputy Program Manager, Capt. John F. Hardison.

Hardison said once the sensors and airframe are fully integrated, deploying them aboard the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) is one of the last legs in the journey required to have AMCM capability resident within the Fleet.

The arrival of the aircraft at NSWC PCD’s Aviation Unit March 7, 2009 signifies a novel approach to OAMCM. However, to reach journey’s end, Hardison said full integration of airframe and sensors is the Navy’s next step.

“We’ve arrived at a point where we need to test, evaluate and develop tactics for those new sensors,” Hardison said. “So, integrating them onto the MH-60S has really necessitated placement of the helicopter that is going to perform the mission at Panama City, which is our Mine Warfare Center of excellence.”


The Navy’s suite of OAMCM sensors to be deployed using the MH-60S includes the AN/AQS-20A, an underwater mine-detection sonar; the Organic Airborne and Surface Influence Sweep (OASIS), the Airborne Mine Neutralization System (AMNS); the Airborne Laser Mine Detection System (ALMDS); and the Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS).

These sensors are being developed at NSWC PCD to hunt, detect, classify, and neutralize mines from the air. Once fielded, these systems represent an evolutionary advancement in technology and will allow operators to put physical distance between sea mines and the Navy’s most priceless asset – U.S. Sailors. Hardison said integration of these sensor systems aboard the MH-60S is an integral part of the Navy’s OAMCM vision.

“It would dramatically reduce the Navy’s response time to bring those capabilities to bear in the theater of operations,” Hardison said.

Pilots, air crewmen, maintenance specialists and additional technical equipment have all been arriving in anticipation of delivery of the first MH-60S, according to Hardison.

“So, stationing all needed assets in Panama City is far more efficient than what we’ve had to do in the past: packing up a whole detachment from HX-21 or VX-1 and moving them down there,” Hardison said.  NSWC PCD Commander, Capt. Andrew Buduo III, said Panama City had carefully chosen staff members for its Aviation Unit.

“The Officer In Charge (OIC) of our Aviation Unit, Lt. Cmdr. James Schmitt, was specifically chosen to lead the transition to the new helicopter.  His first tour was as an MH-53E pilot, but he made an MH-60S transition and flew ‘60s for his next three tours,” Buduo said.

RH-53D’s and MH-53E’s have had a long and distinguished career supporting the Navy. Buduo added that the ‘53’s have been the Navy’s primary platform for conducting AMCM missions for more than 40 years.

“The MH-53E is a very large, powerful and capable helicopter. Its fuel load alone weighs more than the maximum gross weight of the MH-60S. Of course one of its drawbacks is just that – its size. Consequently, it’s too big to operate from many of our surface platforms. The MH-60S is a lot smaller and therefore can be supported from more of our surface ships,” he said.

Buduo said the Navy’s evolution toward OAMCM capability will mean deploying the helicopter with its accompanying suite of sensors aboard its intended host platform, the LCS.

“Our plan is to deploy our MCM capability aboard the LCS. LCS Mission Modules will be pre-positioned throughout the world and when the Navy needs that capability it will already be either onboard or in theater. Currently, we have to load up an AMCM squadron and their MH-53E’s and deploy them to the OPAREA,” he said.

Lt. Cmdr. James Schmitt, OIC of NSWC PCD’s Aviation Unit, said one of the biggest challenges during OAMCM testing is to ‘interface’ the suite of sensors and the airframe.

“With the MH-60S, we are testing a lot of new equipment. The mission systems, the Carriage Stream Tow and Recovery System (CSTRS), the Common Console, and even the aircraft are all new. So are the interfaces between them. Ideally, we would introduce only one new item at a time, as has traditionally been the case with AMCM testing on the MH-53E. With OAMCM on the MH-60S, everything from the device to the aircraft is a potential variable,” Schmitt said, emphasizing this greatly complicated the research, development, test and evaluation process.

Hardison said this particular stage of OAMCM development also afforded additional opportunities to refine concepts of operation.

“We fully expect this to be a continuous evolution in refining tactics,” Hardison said. “And Panama City is the perfect place to develop and evaluate best practices for Fleet use of these systems.”

More Sidewalks on South Thomas Drive


Well, the County is doing it again – using your tax dollars for improvement.  Good for you Bay County.  The project started back in June and paved sidewalks from the intersection of Joan Avenue to Ocean Street.  Now the project continues from Ocean street down to Venus Street.

This phase in the construction includes the installation of a stormwater system consiting of three 18 inch diameter cross drain pipes under Thomas Drive bewtween Choctaw and Walnut Streets. Over the last 10 days sections of Thomas Drive have been closed on one side to accomodate the construction.

CRA Moving Forward – Construction Update

The Front Beach Road CRA is making great progress with the current project and is planning and preparing for the next segment in the rebuilding of our tourist transportation corridor.

The Beckrich Road project, started in September of 2007 is right on schedule.  Just last week traffic was switched to the newly paved portion of the road so that crews can begin the reconstruction of the original treaded path.  Part of the process will include bringing it up to grade, repaving and curbing.  The entire project, including street-side lighting, sidewalks, and landscaping will be complete by May of 2009.

The next phase of the CRA will be the South Thomas Drive area, including the road that travels past Boardwalk, past Pineapple Willies and dead-ends at Laketown Wharf and Shores of Panama.  If you haven’t traveled down this road in a while, then you don’t know just how bad this road really is.  This stretch of pavement looks like it was laid during colonial times, probably at least 250 years old – sarcasm.

This particular part of the CRA is unique in that there isn’t enough room to expand the roadway as much as some of the other areas.  However, the final product will have two full size traffic lanes, a middle turn lane and a west-bound tram lane that will double as an expanded bike pathway.  Sidewalks, lighting and landscaping will be on both sides, and the final product will be beautiful and pedistrian friendly.

The planning is almost complete, and the right of way land is nearly all purchased, but construction funding is yet to be in place.  With roughly $10 million in the bank, Ben Faust of DRMP, the engineering firm overseaing the CRA operation, said they still need to raise another $20 million to fund construction and purchase right of way land for the next phase of the CRA that will cover Front Beach Road, from Walmart past Bechrich Road.

“Even in light of the current financial situation, we should still be able to raise the money we need through bond sales,” said Faust.  If everything goes as planned, the South Thomas section will be advertised for bid first quarter of 2009 with a prjected start time sometime next summer.  Total construction time should be around 24 months.

The next section of the CRA – Front Beach Road, from Walmart past Beckrich should begin construction summer of 2010.

Great Food, Awesome People

I am not a food critic, nor have I been to every restaurant that competes with this one, but I can say that the food I ate there was phenomenal and the service was even better.  Hidden on Thomas Drive next to where Ruthy T’s used to be is arguably Panama City Beach’s most delicious Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria.

Red Rose Italian Restaurant and Pizzeria has been around for several years, but the new owners have only been here since February.  Fred and May moved to the area with their daughters Sidney and Ella to be close to the water and get away from the big city life of Cincinnati, Ohio.  When they purchased the restaurant, they added JEMS to the end and made it home.  I won’t tell you the meaning behind JEMS, you’ll have to ask them the story.

What started this all was a quick lunch there of Friday.  I had been to Red Rose in the past, but a buddy suggested this as a good place to have a quick meeting.  Being a sucker for a good Calzone, I asked Sidney to prepare mine like she would her own.  It was absolutely delectable.  The texture of the bread was just right.  The ingredient/bread ratio was perfect.  Everything was not too dry, but not too moist and the sauce that came on the side had the right amount of tang and seasoning.

The Calzone that was prepared for me had ricotta cheese, blend cheese, hot sausage, peperoni, roasted peppers, onions and mushrooms.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Also on the menu is everything you’d expect at an Italian restaurant from specialty pizzas to stromboli to spaghetti and meatballs.  Everything is made fresh from scratch from fresh ingredients, they even grown their own herbs.  If you’ve not eaten at Red Rose, I highly recomend it.

Again, they are next to where Ruthy T’s (Wahoo’s now) used to be on Thomas Drive right down from Joan Avenue.  If you are going east from Joan, it is just past Moby Dick’s T-shirt shop.

Be sure to tell them you read about them on pcbdaily.

Red Rose Retaurant and Pizzeria
8501 Thomas Drive