The Thirty-A Review May 2020

The Thirty-A Review, "A Review of 30-A's Finest People, Places and Things™" focuses on 30-A and the surrounding areas. Our audience is very upscale and we tell the stories of the artists, restaurants, galleries, retailers, real estate developments, entertainment and beauty that make 30-A the incredibly special place that it is today. We tell the human interest stories that make 30-A's entrepreneurs, developers and artists tick, making the magazine appealing to both tourists and locals alike.


S trong Stand Tall. Stand Strong. Stand Together.

INSIDE: Delicious Dining on 30-A 30-A’s Special Communities Hot Real Estate Health & Wellness Art, Business, Culture & More…

l e t t e r f r o m t h e p u b l i s h e r

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Miles K. Neiman


Managing Editor Jennifer Thompson

30-A has always been a place which focuses on the strength of community. From the day, over 4 decades ago, when Robert Davis founded Seaside in 1979, planting the seeds for the vision of 30-A and the New Urbanism movement, to the modern day bustle of 30-A as we know it, our commun- ity has relied on the strength and kindness of its neighbors and neighbor-hoods. This unity and community are what make 30-A the popular destination it is today. So it is no surprise then, that 30-A and its residents are especially equipped to handle adversity and challenges with grace and dignity. Our current situation is no exception. As our community, and country, steels itself for the unknown and un- chartered waters of this current Covid-19 epidemic, we can find comfort in the fact

that we will stand strong, and together, to get through this challenge. This issue is dedicated to the people who make 30-A the special place that it is today. Whether it’s the local restauranteurs and retailers who add flavor and style, or the folks who keep our beaches clean and safe, the personalities of 30-A are as beautiful and textured as our coastlines. So fear not, this too shall pass. And we shall continue to stand strong and bright after

Graphic Design Brenda J. Oliver - Cover Design & Magazine Layout Sharon Jollay - Ads

Photography Jacqueline Ward

Contributing Writers Jessica Badour Andy Butcher Susan Cannizzaro Julie Herron Carson Tess Farmer Tom Fitzpatrick Tracey M. Hawkins Ellen Howle Anne Hunter Denise K. James Alden Mahler Levine Ryan Loftis

the storm. Sincerely,

Miles K. Neiman

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The Thirty-A Review is published every other month by Thirty-A Review, LLC. Reproductions in whole or in part, without expressed written permission of the publisher, are strictly prohibited. The Thirty-A Review is not responsible for the content or claims of any advertising or editorial in this publication. All information is believed to be accurate but is not warranted. Copyright 2006-2020. Send inquiries to 227 Sandy Springs Place, Suite D-288, Sandy Springs, GA 30328. Send press releases and e-mails to

Courtney Murray Nikki Nickerson Erin Oden Bart Precourt

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about the cover

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14 dining Mr. Gyro Hero FOOW: A Different Fish

18 chef profile Tom Catherall 20 local artist Karla Reilly

24 cover story 30-A Standing Strong


26 local style Coastal Chic, Custom Made 28 local business The Arc of the Emerald Coast & British Swim School Furnishing the Coast 30 real estate development Watersound Origins Crossings


32 real estate Our Shining Season Architectural Designer/Builder Faisal Syed

36 legal eagles Estate Protection


38 turf talk Jack Nicklaus on the Perfect Swing



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Mr. Gyro Hero b y A n d y B u t c h e r

Everything is made fresh daily and mostly sourced from local growers, many of them other farmers’ market vendors.

Gyro Wrap

breakfast platter featuring boiled egg, salami, feta cheese, fresh veggies, homemade jam, and local honey with fresh bread. Among the beverages are Turkish beer and wine, a nod to Burak’s homeland he is glad to offer, good-naturedly pointing out that while Mediterranean means “Greek” to many folks, other countries in the region, including his own, can lay equal claim to the healthy diet and moniker. While they recognize that their Airstream Row move is a bit of a gamble, their confidence

L ong-time customers of Burak and Olga Akkans’s Mediterranean foods stall at Seaside Farmers Market received a bottle of champagne recently. The celebration: the Akkans’s move to a space on Airstream Row, one of the Emerald Coast’s most iconic open air eating spots. Fixtures at the Seaside weekly market for a decade, the Akkans now anchor the west end of the Airstream eateries line under the banner Mr. Gyro Hero. The superhero-style logo’s blue, white, and yellow hint at two flags—Greece, which for many people is synonymous with Mediterranean food, and Olga’s native Ukraine. Other food regimes have come and gone, but the Mediterranean diet has held strong since it was first introduced some 30 years ago, earning a spot on the world heritage list of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. With its emphasis on seafood, veggies, whole grains, nuts, and fruits, Mediterranean eating has been credited with preventing heart disease and strokes, reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, keeping you agile, and increasing longevity. “It’s also very tasty,” Burak notes, patting his stomach with a smile. “It’s what we eat as a family,” says Olga. Burak has been part of the 30-A food world since before his farmers market residency. He worked in his family’s Fort Walton restaurant after they came to Florida from Turkey 16 years ago, and later with his brother’s

food truck locations. He also learned about business from buying and selling properties. Olga first came to the area as an exchange student and the couple met through mutual friends. She earned a master’s in mathematics and has taught in college while helping with the farmers’ market and juggling their two small children. The Akkans found a 1974 Airstream in Orlando to fill their Seaside spot. “It was

Meze Platter

originally from Oregon, but it had been kept in a covered area, so it had never seen snow; it was in great condition,” Burak says. They ripped out the RV interior—“We were sad to do it, but we had to”—and had a custom-designed kitchen fitted, complete with oven, burners, and a freezer. The meat spinner is positioned near one of the windows so customers can see as it being freshly prepared. The couple’s Airstream Row menu is an expanded version of the one the Akkans have offered across the way at their farmers market stall—which they are continuing. “We don’t want to forget our regulars,” says Burak. Everything is made fresh daily and mostly sourced from local growers, many of them other farmers’ market vendors. “We’re like family there,” says Olga. On offer are the couple’s signature hummus— regular and spicy, beet and avocado, roasted peppers— plus bean and Greek salads, and tabbouleh. In addition to their popular gyros there are chicken, beef, and shrimp kebab platters. Newly available is a Mediterranean

has been boosted by the support and encouragement of their market regulars. “People have been really pleased to hear about it,” says Burak. Plus, the couple has an adventurous streak—they got married in a helicopter high over the Las Vegas Strip. With much family unable to make the trip to the U.S. for the wedding, they decided that they wanted to make it memorable in another way. The Akkans have traveled widely since they made their home in America—he has checked off more than 30 states—and even had job offers in other parts but, “We like it so much here we never want to leave,” he says of the 30-A area. “We are excited and scared” about their Airstream Row arrival, he adds. “We don’t know what to expect; it’s a very busy location, so we are hopeful.”

Mr. Gyro Hero is located at 2215 E. County Highway 30A, Airstream Row, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. Call (850) 376-5864 for more information.

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A Different Fish b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t

Carolina Pimento Cheese Toast

Heirloom Tomato Toast

Photos courtesy St. Joe Hospitality

O pen since the summer of 2018, FOOW has set itself apart from its competitors and become a locally renowned eatery for all things coastal; presenting a menu of fresh-off-the-docks dishes that displays a deft understanding of flavor combinations and a love for Northwest Florida’s abundance of delicious seafood. “FOOW has long been synonymous with fresh, locally inspired cuisine that celebrates Florida’s best, focusing on creating a locally sourced menu and offering our guests stunning waterfront views and a coastal-casual atmosphere,” says Executive Chef Matt Moore, Director of Food & Beverage at WaterColor Inn & Resort, and who has been with the restaurant since its opening. Adding to his credentials, he was named “Chef of the Year” in 2017 by the American Culinary Federation. About FOOW, Moore says, “We serve up an authentic taste of the Gulf in an ambiance that embodies the spirit of the WaterColor community: coastal, fun, approachable, and always attended with impeccable service.” While FOOW’s imperative of impeccable service and the highest quality of cuisine offering might imply a white-tablecloth ambiance and stuffy atmosphere, they manage to maintain a friendly vibe that welcomes everyone to walk through their doors; from those coming in off the beach to those who just want a night out. “FOOW is Southern hospitality at its best,” says Chef Moore. “We want you to feel like you’re at an old school café where you see familiar faces and you never have to worry about what to wear.” And despite the fact that their food certainly plays an integral part of drawing diners, it is their breathtaking views and unique interior that clinches the deal, creating the perfect place to just sit, relax with a fantastic meal and a great drink, and marvel at the beauty. “The best seat in the house is always guaranteed,” Chef Moore says of the restaurant’s glass walls, which showcase breathtaking views from

woods, offset with textures and patterns that show an understanding of style, perfectly set against massive windows that flood the space with natural sunlight and provide the perfect viewpoint for watercolor-like sunsets. With views like that, one might forget to look at what is presented on one’s plate, but Chef Moore and the cooks in his kitchen make sure that their offerings are no less impressive than the vistas beheld by their guests. Standing firmly on their standard of creating everything in house and putting creativity into every dish, FOOW has devised a menu of delicious signatures featuring fresh caught Gulf seafood and premium steaks, as well as unique Southern comfort-inspired items like Fish Dip and Sweet Tea Chicken. A particular point of pride—and display of determination—are their FOOW Toasts. “We started making sourdough in-house, even though we were unsure about whether or not we could sustain that type of bread in such a small facility, with such limited bakery resources. We soon decided it was worth the result and just figured out the logistics,” says Chef Matt of the new addition to the menu: three different toasts that include their own version of tomato bruschetta with a local buttermilk farm cheese, one with Gulf shrimp and avocado, and a pimento cheese toast. “You can’t get more Southern than that!” Whatever they put their hand to, FOOW and the team behind it are clearly determined to stand out and not fit in. And this is one case where being different definitely works in their favor.

We serve up an authentic taste of the Gulf in an ambiance that embodies the spirit of the WaterColor community: coastal, fun, approachable, and always attended with impeccable service.

every seat. Wall art by local artist Justin Gaffrey adds to the restaurant’s vibrant yet relaxed atmosphere, and the FOOW room provides private parties with a more intimate dining setting amidst an extensive and extremely impressive wine cellar. Clearly, the importance of setting the scene was not lost on FOOW’s owners, who recently completed a redesign led by designer and architect Cooper Carry of The Johnson Studio. The newly imagined space highlights Gulf views and capitalizes on the nearness of South Walton’s white sand beaches. The design also incorporates an open kitchen as well as an expanded Gulf view bar that wraps from the interior to the exterior, seamlessly unifying the two concepts. Continuing the coastal theme are cool seaside colors and warm hickory

FOOW is located at 34 Goldenrod Circle, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida 32459. For more information, call (850) 534-5050 or visit

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Celebrated Atlanta Chef to Open Italian Restaurant Tom Catherall says “Every Dish is a Signature Dish” b y M a r y We l c h

C ertified Master Chef Tom Catherall, one of the defining and influential forces of the Atlanta restaurant scene for over three decades, is bringing his talent and vision to a new restaurant in Seacrest. Due to open May 21 (“I’ve never missed an opening date at any of my restaurants”), Chef Catherall promises that Lola Coastal Italian will be a restaurant unlike other on the Emerald Coast. For one thing, there won’t be any waiters. Guests will look at the menu board, order, get a number and then the food is brought to your table. Behind the counter will also be wines by category: Good ($20 - $25), Better ($35), Best ($50). Tell the cashier which one you want and that’s it! “Right off, I’m cutting 20 percent off the bill this way because you don’t have to tip,” he says. The ordering will be just as simple. Diners will select their pasta (such as fettuccine, spaghetti, linguini); then the sauce (including Alfredo or original Italian); and next, the protein, such as mussels. Everything will be priced separately. The cuisine will be wood-fired pizzas as well as fresh seafood. The restaurant has two wood-fire ovens. One will be used for pizzas; the other for roasting fish, which brings a “nice smoky wood flavor” to the seafood. There will be six pizza options. The pizzas will be Neapolitan style with a thin chewy crust and the burn flavors from the oven integrated into the overall taste. The head chef from Antico Pizza, an Italian eatery with a national reputation, is helping Catherall perfect his pizzas. “It’s coastal Italian. Most Italian restaurants around here are heavy with meats, but not us. We’ll be featuring local, fresh seafood, mussels, snapper, shrimp, crab. Tons of shrimp,” he says. “This area has a wonderful seafood selection and we will take advantage of it. No one else does. “Every dish is a signature dish,” he says. He has had his trusty pasta machine for years. “Every dish will be the best.” The key to outstanding cooking is to “Buy the best ingredients. You start with the ingredients and then you don’t screw it up. In the Panhandle they cook everything to death. They over-fry everything. There’s not great food down here—not really great food.”

Catherall certainly has the resume to bring a new level of excellence and excitement to the area. He is a certified master chef, one of only 62 in the country, and has been in the business for 55 years, starting at hotels and then birthing 12 unique restaurant concepts with 15 locations, from steak, seafood and sushi, to Spanish tapas. Even while he lived in Atlanta, 30-A beckoned. He bought a house in WaterColor about 10 years ago. “I started out spending about 20 percent of my time here, then 30 percent, and then finally about 95 percent. I retired for three to four years and my wife said I needed to do something and to find a restaurant. I found the perfect space.” That space was home to a former steak restaurant but was “too big” to be viable. The landlord chopped the space into thirds and Catherall found his place. The space is 3,500 square feet with seating for 30 outside. “Right now, I’m working with contractors, architects, plumbers, equipment people. But when it’s done, it’ll be a sexy restaurant.” Lola Coastal Italian will be open for lunch and dinner with a happy hour from 3 to 5 p.m. Instead of the usual $20 pizzas, during happy hour they’ll only cost $10 (“and they’re big pizzas,” he says). Other special touches will be a frozen drink machine. “We’re at the beach. You have to have margaritas,” he says. “And, being Italian, we have to have a bellini bar with fresh purees. We’ll also have Pellegrino in several flavors.” Catherall can’t wait to get back to his true calling — serving up the best food and creating memories for his guests. “We really will be the best on the beach,” he promises. For more information: Lola Coastal Italian. 10343 East County Highway 30A, Seacrest Beach. 32416. Hours: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. weekdays; Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Master Chef Tom Catherall

We’ll be featuring local, fresh seafood, mussels, snapper, shrimp, crab. Tons of shrimp. This area has a wonderful seafood

selection and we will take advantage of it.

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Artist Spotlight: Karla Reilly Inspired by the natural elements of the beach and bay, artist Karla Reilly brings her talents to the Gulf Coast b y Te s s F a r m e r

“I have had amazing opportunities in my life to help others and to see the world,” says Reilly. “Through humanitarian efforts, motherhood, hard work, support, and the gift of education, I’ve gained invaluable insight and been a first-hand witness to how art can transform and enhance lives.” Inspired by the work of Betty Tisdale, often referred to as the Angel of Saigon and founder of Helping And Loving Orphans (H.A.L.O.), Reilly joined H.A.L.O. as vice president in 2006. In this role she traveled to Southeast Asia and South America to assist children and families living and working in garbage dumps, suffering the effects of Agent Orange, and residing in leper villages. This experience led her to pursue further training in art therapy at Pratt. Upon completion of her degree, Reilly began an art therapy program at the Center for Psychiatric Medicine at UAB Hospital in Birmingham, working with multiple units with acutely mentally ill patients. She simultaneously worked as an art therapist at Children’s Hospital of Alabama in the department of hematology and oncology. “It has been an honor to observe children and adults explore and express their own language through the process of art making, and to recognize the positive effect it has had in their lives,” adds Reilly. Reilly has worked extensively with children and adults to process trauma, PTSD, those who have been victims of human trafficking, as well as children and adults going through life changes like divorce and loss of loved ones. “I am excited about what the future holds and looking forward to bringing the value of this type of therapy to the area,” Reilly says. “I welcome vulnerability, opportunity, and empathetic witnessing. It is unveiled in the process, the materials, and a bit of guidance.” She is currently creating her own work, focusing on animation and visual storytelling, which often uses natural materials from the local environment like shells and other elements from the sea. She also does encaustic painting; all this while teaching graduate students during the summer and building a private practice in art therapy and sand play therapy. Reilly is committed to giving back to the community. She will offer informational meetings on the power of art therapy and will be accepting clients for art therapy sessions, as well as group sessions, to begin this fall.

Artist Karla Reilly

A fter living and working across the world, Karla Reilly has returned to the Gulf Coast shores where she spent much of her childhood. This time she brings years of experience and talents as an artist and board-certified art therapist. She also has an outstanding vision for how art can bring together the communities in Northwest Florida. “One of the beautiful things about the art therapy process is that we don’t need skill to create,” says Reilly. “It is within each of us, and always has been and always will be, since the beginning of time. We are inherently made to create and communicate. I have witnessed the healing powers of art therapy in others and in myself, and it is a truth that I aspire to live by.” Reilly received her Master’s degree in Painting and Fine Arts from Florida State and then trained at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, receiving a second Master’s in Art Therapy and Creativity Development. At Pratt the curriculum is based on a combination of personal experience, didactic learning and practical application, and is rooted in the primacy of creative process and psychodynamic theory. Reilly has traveled the world giving back in the way of humanitarian efforts and applying her training in art therapy. Art therapy involves using creative techniques, such as drawing, painting, collage, coloring, or sculpting, to help people express themselves artistically and examine

the psychological and emotional undertones in their art. With the guidance of an art therapist, individuals can “decode” the nonverbal messages, symbols, and metaphors often found in these art forms, which often lead to a better understanding of their feelings and behavior so they can move on to resolve deeper issues. Reilly is now focused on establishing a private practice here in Northwest Florida, an area that has been formative for her and her family. She provides services on a contract basis, as well as introductory workshops for non-profit organizations to better understand the value of art therapy. She also maintains her role as visiting instructor at Pratt Institute in the Graduate Department of the Creative Art Therapy program.

For more information, contact Karla Reilly at

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30-A Standing Strong: The Gift of COVID-19 b y M i k e R a g s d a l e

L ast year, what if I had told you that when warm weather finally rolled around, you would enjoy an entire month of “staycation” at home? No commute. No office. No excruciating staff meetings. Spend spring at home instead. The only catch? You can’t leave the house. Many of us would have been absolutely ecstatic to learn such news. What an incredible gift! You mean I can finally catch up on all those little projects around the house? I can finally take up meditation and start my daily exercise routine? No more errands to run. I can play with the kids. I can try out those new recipes I’ve been stockpiling. I’ll finally have time to go for bike rides and sunset strolls in my neighborhood. I can FaceTime with my relatives and play video games with my friends. I can read all those books that have been piling up and collecting dust on my shelf. I can do whatever I want—I simply have to stay at home. Of course, no one expected or wanted a global pandemic to come crashing down into our brand, shiny new decade. People’s lives

circumstances will be remembered as a very special moment. It will be remembered as a transformative era, during which many of us emerged stronger, healthier, happier; and dare I add, more connected. Think of the grade schoolers who suddenly found themselves free from the perceived shackles of their classrooms. They’re spending their newfound freedom running around in the yard with the dog. They’re playing video games with their friends. They’re spending time with their mom, dad, and siblings. I suspect that six months from now, those young spirits will be yearning for another free month at home with mom and dad. These days spent in quarantine with you could very well become some of their fondest childhood memories. “Mom, remember when we were all locked up together in the house for that whole month? That was so much fun. Remember that night dad burned the cookies? Remember when we would all sit around and play Monopoly? Why don’t we do that anymore? I sure wish we could do that again.” Perspective is a funny thing. One person’s

Mike Ragsdale

Photo by Jake Meyer

have been turned completely upside down or worse. No one wanted this crisis. But a pandemic is what we’ve got to deal with—not just as individuals or as communities or even as a nation. For perhaps the first time in human history, our entire planet has been confronted with a single common enemy. So far, I’m pretty proud of humanity’s response. We’re fighting this together, by staying apart. Even so, this is a Cat 5 health and economic hurricane, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. And yet, what an incredible gift we’ve all been given, the most precious of all: time. Whether you’re in good or poor health, if you’re reading this right now, you’ve already received that gift. How you’re using it is up to you. Are you spending your precious gift worrying about what might or might not happen in the days ahead? Are you spending it arguing with people online who don’t share your perspective of world events? Are you glued to a screen, waiting for the next troubling headline to scroll by? Are you spending it complaining about the things you can’t have or can’t do right now? Or are you savoring this truly extraordinary moment? Are you using it to reconnect with your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and friends? Are you taking advantage of this gift to transform yourself into a better human being?

nightmare is another person’s wildest fantasy come true. Hopefully by the time you read this, the stay-at- home orders have been lifted or will be soon. Hopefully our beaches are open once again. Hopefully our restaurants, shops, and businesses are starting on the long path toward recovery. Hopefully you and your family are healthy and happy. If you reflect for a moment now and feel pretty darn good about how you’ve spent the last couple of months, that’s really fantastic. You’ve leveled-up as a human being. You’re more connected to your family. You’ve probably developed better hygiene habits, strengthened your immune system, and developed a deeper understanding of just how interconnected we all are. On the other hand, if you look back and now feel as though you totally squandered your no-expenses-paid staycation, that’s okay too. That’s the wonderful thing about receiving the gift of time. You get a new shipment every single day. What you do with today’s delivery is up to you. Mike Ragsdale is founder of The 30A Company. Inspired by a two-lane road that meanders along Florida’s Gulf Coast, 30A shares eco-friendly products and stories that celebrate our small beach town way of life.

Months from now, as this global crisis

inevitably wanes, will you look back and be proud of how you spent your days at home?

Happiness is a choice. The Declaration of Indepen- dence doesn’t guarantee us happiness. It offers us the pursuit of happiness. Whether you choose to chase after happiness is 100% up to you. Will you look back on your days in quarantine as happy ones, or as days that were consumed with fear, depression, and anxiety? Months from now, as this global crisis inevitably wanes, will you look back and be proud of how you spent your days at home? Or will you feel as though you squandered a rare opportunity? For many, COVID-19 will become an excuse for why their 2020 sucked. And yet for others, these strange

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30-A Standing Strong: Pause and Recharge b y N i k k i N i c k e r s o n

T he beaches now remind many of us of the early days: at night, very quiet with just a few people walking to the sunset. During the day, the beaches are empty and patrolled. But you can’t take our beautiful views away, so the ocean and the area’s beauty can still give us a sense of solace. Many families with 30-A second homes have chosen to be quarantined here. You see people walking and biking, though very few cars on the road. The March weather was perfect, and I know many of us living here feel a deep gratitude and hope that we will get through this difficult time.

The slowdown has given us all a pause on life, a time to reflect, and a time to live differently.

In the first full week of spring break in March, and with Covid 19 starting to make national headlines daily, our town was still bustling with people who had already planned their annual vacations. Traditionally the epic center of congregating and hosting large numbers of spring break tourists, Seaside quickly saw the need to intervene and were instrumental in us going into stay at home mode. Shortly thereafter, Walton County took measures to enforce social isolation both in beach towns and on the beaches. Our merchants, who pretty much count on spring revenue to make up for a loss of revenue in the winter, were suddenly forced into shut down mode with the rest of Florida and the country. Like everyone, we here on 30-A have dealt with significant emotions and confusion over the last couple of weeks. Our area is comprised of mostly hospitality and tourism businesses, so we were hit hard in an area where many of our workers already struggle to pay for their cost of living. My restaurants pivoted to a take-out business model, employed standards for safe working and distribution, and tried to provide on-going structure

Nikki Nickerson

30-A has long been a place for recharging and finding a sense of peace, so in some ways, we had a head start. But we have now returned to our roots once again. As CEO/Owner of Cowgirl Enterprises and 30A Coastal Life, Nikki oversees the operations of six business concepts and employs over 100 people on Scenic 30A. In addition to running her companies, Nikki is a peloton cycling enthusiast, backgammon strategist and official beach guide for her Labradoodle Billzey.

and employment for staff. There has been great unity with the locals who embrace 30-A as their home: people reaching out to check on one another, community business leaders like Jane Solomon donating money to help feed unemployed industry workers and first responders. The slowdown has given us all a pause on life, a time to reflect, and a time to live differently. The hustle bustle that normally preoccupies our daily life is replaced with a quiet respite—our phones no longer dictating our daily agenda, walks for no reason, and time with our families taking priority over our work.

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Coastal Chic, Custom Made b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t

unique collection of modern concrete and teak wood furniture that can be used both indoors and outdoors,” he goes on. “We specialize in unique coastal chic furniture and art, but our clients also love our custom industrial farmhouse furniture and custom reclaimed wood furniture.” “Custom” seems to be the underlying theme, the very thing that makes Maison30A such a destination for clients in search of the perfect piece to finish off a space or an entire collection to create their dream home. Building relationships with their customers to assess their needs and truly capture their vision, Bailey and his team offer something that can’t be found at just any furniture store and a level of expertise that has taken years to cultivate. As anyone meeting with Bailey can easily sense, the man knows design and understands how to layer a look, how to use colors to complement a space and make a focal point stand out even more, how and where to use different textures. Bailey is a wealth of knowledge, a fact which his clients clearly appreciate and rely on. And while he could easily have stayed in one of the larger markets to set up shop, it was following his heart and moving to the beach that made him truly

Photos courtesy of Maison30A

love where he lives. “My parents owned one of the first homes built in Seaside, and after many years of living in California and Atlanta, I decided it was time to move to the beach and be closer to my parents, who currently live in Dune Allen Beach on 30-A,” Bailey says of his decision for the move. “My career has been a whirlwind journey that has taken me

I ndustrial and mid-century modern have long been en vogue in interior design, showing up in everything from light fixtures to couches and end tables, so when Birmingham AL native Christopher Bailey opened his first store in 1996, he couldn’t have chosen a better focus for his San Francisco- based boutique. From there, he went on to create Industrial Chic Loft, selling his designs at antique shows in chic design hotspots, including Atlanta; Round Top, Texas; Manhattan; and Brimfield, Massachusetts; as well as showrooms in Atlanta and High Point, North Carolina. It was moving to the Emerald Coast, however, that truly opened up even greater possibilities for Bailey’s talents for designing and making custom furniture pieces and his skill for interior design. The decision to relocate the production of Industrial Chic Loft to Panama City Beach proved to be a wise move that would eventually lead him down a familiar road. “We use raw materials such as steel, cast iron, reclaimed aged wood, concrete, rivets, and mechanical elements to create our custom furniture pieces and handcraft each piece into functional and stunning furniture that suits coastal design for the home, loft space, or office,” Bailey says of his popular Industrial Chic Loft line. Meeting success at the market

in which he now found himself as a resident of the beach community, Bailey was soon inspired to set up shop along the beaches of 30-A; and in July 2019, he opened Maison30A. “Maison30A is a home and garden store unlike any other store in the area,” Bailey contends. “We have a large selection of pots and planters in all shapes and sizes, with a focus on neutral, natural colors and materials. We also offer custom designed furniture built to our clients’ specifications, which is an ability that certainly sets us apart; and I work with designers to supply them with unique pieces and custom-built designs for both residential and commercial projects. We also have a

all over the world to finally land at the world’s most beautiful beaches, and I am excited to bring all of my experience from the past two decades in the design industry to Maison30A.” Maison30A is located at 16810 Panama City Beach Parkway, Panama City Beach, Florida 32413. Open Tuesday - Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. or by appointment. For more information, visit www. or call (850) 775-1227. For more information on Industrial Chic Loft, visit www.

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True Blue The Arc of the Emerald Coast and British Swim School Form Partnership in Fort Walton Beach b y D e n i s e K . J a m e s

W ater babies everywhere have no doubt heard of British Swim School, where children as young as three months old can learn the basics of swimming. Founded in 1981 by Rita Goldberg and popular all over the United States and Canada, British Swim School has taught more than a generation of kids and adults. Now, in Fort Walton Beach, even more kids who are anxious to earn their sea legs are able to do so, thanks to a unique partnership with the Arc of the Emerald Coast and their state-of-the-art swim facility. As of March 2020, British Swim School will host lessons at the Arc of the Emerald Coast’s Aquatic & Education Center. Lessons will take place each Thursday and Friday and will employ the “unique and highly effective teaching methods” British Swim School is known for. “This is a great partnership for the Aquatic and Education Center,” comments John Roper, CEO of the Arc of the Emerald Coast. “We use the pool regularly for our clients at the Arc, but it’s exciting to see other members of the community dive in and enjoy the pool,” he adds.

being with someone he didn’t know in the water! But within a couple of classes, we could not get him out of the water. He didn’t want to leave. And he talked about lessons literally every day, asking when he would get to go swimming again,” she says. Trinque shares that she herself swims competitively and wanted her grandson to “know what to do in the pool.” Though Liam didn’t have many lessons before his family moved away, Trinque still feels that, “Through the repetition of performing the tasks [the instructors] gave him, he was progressing very fast. “From the first time he walked into the class, I could tell that they are very dedicated at the British Swim School and believe in what they are doing,” she says. “They loved Liam and really cared about him and wanted to help him learn how to swim.” The Aquatic & Education Center is a 7,000 square-foot facility with a 1400 square-foot zero-entry pool. In addition to the spacious swimming pool, the facility boasts a state-of-the-art

Photo courtesy of British Swim School.

What is the Arc of the Emerald Coast? It’s a grassroots organization that focuses on advocating for citizens who have cognitive, intellectual, or developmental difficulties, as well as offering support for their families and loved ones. In addition to Walton County, the Arc provides services in Okaloosa – where it originated— and Santa Rosa Counties. Kimberly Graybill, proprietor of the local British Swim School, says the partnership was completely serendipitous; John Roper saw Graybill and a few other staff members “around town, looking for indoor pools” and invited them to make use of the Aquatic Center. As it turned out, the situation was mutually beneficial. “He invited us to join him in his office and asked us to explain what we do and who we are. That was it,”

Graybill explains. “They wanted the pool to be used more frequently and we needed a pool!” In Graybill’s view, learning to swim and survive in the water is an important life skill - especially in a place like Florida. “The goal is to reach as many students and people as we can and teach them life-saving skills in the water to save them from drowning,” she says. “We want to help the Arc reach people who otherwise might not be reached and use this pool that otherwise might not be used.” Missy Trinque, a local woman whose grandson, Liam, attended classes with the British Swim School, says she and Liam both thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the experience. “I noticed how relaxed he became. When we started lessons, he was petrified of swimming and

kitchen and ample space to use for gatherings of all types, from birthday parties to board meetings. According to the website, the Aquatic & Education Center was generously funded thanks to The Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation and Impact 100, while Cox Communications funded the dietary center. The Arc of the Emerald Coast Aquatic & Education Center is located at 341 Holmes Blvd, Fort Walton Beach FL, 32548. To find out more about British Swim School lessons at the facility, visit www. or call (850) 220-1619.

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Furnishing the Coast b y L i e s e l S c h m i d t

S electing furniture seems like it would be a simple process—walk into the store, point to a sofa, and voila! Perfection! Right? Wrong. In all actuality, the pieces you choose make a world of difference in creating the look and feel of your home. With so many different options in colors, patterns, and styles, it can be easy to feel lost and overwhelmed by all of the choices; and the trends seem to change in the blink of an eye. Regardless of how appealing those picture-perfect rooms captured in the glossy pages of designer magazines might be, even the most “of-the- moment” designs aren’t necessarily what will meet your personal needs or express your style. These are pieces that should function well in your home and fit the way you live your life, so it can be helpful to seek out the guidance of a professional when you’re looking for furniture and décor. Providing their expertise in space planning and furniture selection for the furnishing of spaces ranging from a single room to full homes and condos, the team at Furniture South has been helping their clients create their dreams for nearly a decade, offering the latest collections from more than 100 manufacturers. And with so much on site, coupled with their expertise in designing a space, the team of experts at Furniture South can build your perfect room from the carpet up, working with clients from purchase to delivery and even offering removal and set up services in order to bring your vision to life. “Our overriding mission has been to make our clients smile after the final product is installed in their home or condo. We offer ‘one-source shopping’, in which we do everything for the customer to make furnishing their home seamless,” says Frank Kovach, who co-owns the store with his wife Julie, an interior designer certified by the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications. Boasting more than 10,000 square feet of showroom space to display their wide range of stock, they’ve certainly got room to show off their wares, offering everything from occasional chairs, couches, and ottomans to dining room furnishings and bedroom suites as well as every imaginable accessory to pull it all together. “We specialize in seamlessly providing interior design services while giving our clients a large showroom filled with the broadest range of furniture, bedding, and accessories available on the Emerald Coast,” Kovach says. “We also have a large interior design center where clients can select fabrics for upholstery and use our two free- standing kiosks to look for selections from thousands of different items.” While many people rely on visits to showrooms to make their furniture selections, Furniture South has also proven quite successful in a more virtual model of

Photos courtesy The Hive Creative Consulting LLC

recommending that delivery be done when an owner is not home, but our delivery staff is also practicing safe distancing and other measures to help keep everyone safe. We are focusing on doing more online or by appointment only business by providing access to our showroom and design center with any of our sales and design staff.” Clearly, they understand the importance of creating a home to love—especially in these times of uncertainty. And whether online or in person, they maintain a high standard of excellence in customer service, design expertise, and quality products, striving to provide “something different” and make their clients’ homes and condos more beautiful and functional, one room at a time. Furniture South is located at 4552 US Highway 98 W, Unit 8, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459. For more information, call (850) 267-1411 or visit

Julie and Frank Kovach

business, a great advantage for clients who live out-of- state. “We only see about 30 or 40% of our customers in person before the sale is made, so most contact is online or via email,” Kovach explains. “Many of our clients live in another state, so they take advantage of our website when making their purchase.” Such a large online presence has served them well over the years; and during the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 outbreak, the store has come to rely on it even more. “We are very aware that the outbreak has decreased our showroom business, but business online and on our website is continuing,” Kovach notes. “One of our employees is a retired nurse, and she is keeping all surfaces clean and enforcing safe distancing. We are

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Watersound Origins Crossings–Coastal Living Redefined. b y Te s s F a r m e r

T he growth in people and business in South Walton continues. It is evidenced by the investment The St. Joe Company is making in the area. The company announced plans to build a town center in the Watersound Origins community, slated to open next year. The town center will include a Publix, additional commercial space, a covered event pavilion, and open green spaces. Ascension Sacred Heart has also begun construction on a South Walton facility in Watersound. And this summer, Watersound Origins Crossings, a new multi-family luxury apartment community located within the growing coastal village community, will open and is available for leasing. The residential development, located on U.S. Highway 98 and North Watersound Parkway, consists of 217 one, two, and three-bedroom apartments available for long-term lease. Residents will be offered a wide range of distinctive features and amenities, including an expansive resort-style pool, state-of-the-art fitness center, direct access to Lake Powell, and quick access to the beaches of South Walton and Choctawhatchee Bay. The Gulf of Mexico is approximately three miles away via Watersound Parkway and the paved multi-use trail that connects the Watersound Origins community to the Scenic Highway 30-A corridor. “Watersound Origins Crossings offers the ideal blend of stylish residences, abundant amenities, and engaging events and activities,” says Bridget Precise, senior vice president of residential real estate for The St. Joe Company. “Nestled within the rapidly growing

Additional Watersound Origins Crossings features and amenities include fully screened patios and balconies, premium appliances, private storage and garages, nature trails, clubhouse, concierge services, security, and the option to add The Clubs by JOE memberships. The nearby lifestyle town center is being planned as a family friendly, walkable destination for residents and visitors alike. The St. Joe Company strives to create dynamic communities with uncompromising ideals and standards in planning, architecture, and amenities in Northwest Florida. “As the Watersound Origins community continues to grow and evolve, we are focused on bringing diverse housing options to appeal to several types of residents,” adds Precise. The Watersound Origins Crossings development is a part of St. Joe’s 50-year, approximately 110,500-acre project stretching into both Bay and Walton counties. In addition, St. Joe has broken ground on a new 64-unit townhome community to be built in phases in Watersound and available for lease in 2021. Watersound Origins Crossings is being developed by The St. Joe Company and HomeCorp, one of the premier apartment developers and managers of apart- ment communities in the southeast. For more info, please visit or call (334) 260-8000.

The goal is to create a truly neighborly feel and to seamlessly integrate with the growing and thriving Watersound Origins community.

coastal community of Watersound Origins, it’s the perfect setting to appreciate the natural beauty of the beaches and coastal dune lakes.” Each residence features charming coastal cottage architecture complemented by unique floorplans, stylish features, and premium materials, making it a comfortable primary or vacation home. The goal is to create a truly neighborly feel and to seamlessly integrate with the growing and thriving Watersound Origins community, which includes the popular restaurant 2 Birds Coffee + Café, and hosts a bustling schedule of family friendly events. “This option truly offers the best of both worlds,” says Precise. “Whether a primary residence or a second home at the beach, you’ll be able to enjoy all that South Walton and 30-A has to offer, free from the usual long- term commitments, association fees, and property taxes.”

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Our Shining Season–Summertime at the Beach b y E r i n O d e n

O ur summer seasons have been consistent for many, many years. Without much thought, each year we expect our sugar white beaches to be bustling, full of smiling vacationers and locals. Our special coastal communities along Northwest Florida’s Gulf Coast continue to be discovered by more and more who flock to our coast simply to enjoy time at the beach in a truly unique and idyllic setting. Summer is our shining season, the most popular time of the year, and a reminder to all to leave behind the business of life, head to the beach, slow down and unwind, and enjoy the simple pleasures of being on “beach time”. The initial months of 2020 brought us the unexpected and unprecedented Covid-19 global pandemic. At the time of this writing, the first week of April, we are hopefully anticipating that strong local quarantine efforts will be successful for our summer months ahead to return to normally and give us a true and typical “summer at the beach”. The inception of the new urban community of Seaside in the early 1980s laid the path for many other new urbanism beach towns to follow along our coast. New urbanism coastal towns have shown us what a perfect coastal beach town can be. A simpler, slower speed. These pedestrian-focused beach towns encourage us to downshift our pace, slide on our flip flops and hop on a bicycle. The new urbanism planned communities along our coast have been very successful in establishing the concepts of idyllic coastal living. Our many beach communities are diverse, each having their own unique and defined traits, yet, the charm of these coastal communities lends one commonality of a simple little luxury: time at the beach. The many years of strong real estate market trends confirms the significant demand for the lifestyle concepts that strategically planned communities lend us. These architectural significant coastal towns, founded on the principles of new urbanism, have established the highest quality of coastal living to be found. Buyers of beach properties in the early months of 2020 agree! Looking at the national home market, more homes sold in January and February of 2020 than any January and February over the past decade. Our local 30-A home market is fairly consistent with impressive and record high first quarter sales. Notably, March home sales along

the 30-A corridor exceeded $166 million, nearly $42 million higher (+34%) than March 2019 home sales. Many national real estate market analysts anticipate that a short-term pause of activity will move into strong sales performance with pent-up demand flowing when normal conditions return. With so much uncertainty and much opinions, we hope these solid statistics are helpful and encouraging. We hope to see you here this summer for some much- needed beach time! Referenced 30-A home market statistics according to data gathered from FLEX MLS for combined residential properties (detached residences, attached units, and condos only; EXCLUDES vacant land). Information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Prepared compliments of Erin Oden, Coastal Luxury.

Erin Oden is the principal broker and owner of Coastal Luxury, a real estate firm that maintains a strong emphasis on intimate market knowledge and expertise in the luxury and Gulf-front market. Erin can be reached at (850) 502-1220 or erin@ Or, stop by Coastal Luxury, located directly on 30A, the first office east of Alys Beach. Search all available properties at SEARCH.

Erin Oden

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