Named after a cat and a dachshund, Bud & Alley’s has been a Seaside favorite of locals and tourists alike for over 25 years.
By Susan Benton
Dave Rauschkolb, an avid poker player, took a big gamble the day he and friend Scott Witcoski said, “Yes!” to Robert Davis when asked to open a restaurant in Seaside. In those days Scenic 30-A was just a quiet coastal road and Seaside a lonely outpost. It was 1985 and Davis approached Witcoski, a seasoned chef at 24, and Rauschkolb, a marketing and management student who waited tables and bartended, about taking over the space where a former French restaurant stood in Seaside. Once the surfing duo looked out at the porch and gazed at the emerald Gulf waters, Rauschkolb says, “It felt like home,” and within 24 hours the young men were embarking on a culinary journey of a lifetime.
From the start, Rauschkolb oversaw the front of the house and Witcoski honed his already impressive skills as the Executive Chef. Everything was working out well for them except a name. Roschkolb says, “It seemed crazy at the time, but Scott said we should name the restaurant after his cat Alley, and Robert’s dachshund, Bud.”
A quarter of a century later, Bud & Alley’s Restaurant is still a favorite of locals and tourists alike, serving up some of the best regional cuisine in the Panhandle; unpretentious and casual. Rauschkolb says, “The philosophy of the restaurant has remained the same; to serve the freshest, locally available food prepared simply. We are so fortunate to have an abundance of the freshest seafood right in our back yard. “
Bud & Alley’s is South Walton’s longest established restaurant, and sits at the heart of Seaside’s central district, nestled on the Gulf Dunes overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. Chef Dave Bishop is at the kitchen’s helm, serving incredible cuisine in a comfortable fine dining atmosphere. Chef prepared for me the fresh catch of the day (red snapper) baked whole with capers and lemon, certainly something to behold, and a dish of succulent and perfectly prepared Ahi Tuna, which is a popular menu item at lunch and dinner. I shared the crispy pan-fried Crab Cakes, packed with lump crab so moist and delicate, it is no wonder that Bud & Alley’s has garnered numerous awards, including Florida Trend Magazines Golden Spoon Hall of Fame Award, an honor only reserved for 30 Florida restaurants. Chef Emeril Lagasse, also a fan of Bud & Alley’s, recently filmed a segment for his new show with Rauschkolb and Bishop that will be aired in January 2013 on the Cooking Channel, called Emeril’s Florida.
Just steps from the front door and up the stairs to Bud & Alley’s Roof-Top Deck, guests can enjoy their meals in an open-air setting with spectacular and unparalleled panoramic views of Seaside and the Gulf of Mexico. A favorite locals’ hangout for sunset cocktails and photo opportunities, the rooftop is always crowded with customers enjoying the scenery before the sun dips behind the horizon. Each night at sunset, the bartenders participate in a beloved tradition of ringing a cast iron bell from an 1888 steam train. This is the place to linger and savor hand-cut sweet potato fries, or an order of smoked tuna dip with lavash crackers and an ice-cold beer before ordering a memorable dinner; a memory you will want to relive time and again.
After all of the years and rave reviews, Bud & Alley’s mantra still holds steadfast: Good Food-Good People-Good Times. Rauschkolb says, “I am honored to be here and that people speak of Bud & Alley’s with such fondness. We have had the pleasure of being the place of so many wonderful memories for so very long. I eagerly look forward to the next 10 or 20 years in Seaside!”
Bud & Alley’s
2236 East Highway 30-A
(850) 231-5900, email@example.com
Susan Benton is the go to resource for foodies visiting Pensacola to Panama City Beach. She is a food and travel journalist with published articles and photography in many local, regional and national publications. Her website is 30AEATS.com where she writes about the secrets of Gulf Coast food.