Crush is a Hot Spot with a Cool Vibe
February 4, 2013 by Jill Tanner
You may know Crush as the wine bar on the square in Seaside. But it's so much more than a simple wine bar. Crush provides a unique dining experience by offering top-notch sushi, perfectly portioned small plates and a fine selection of wine and beer. The diversity of Crush’s menu guarantees there is something to please everyone’s palate. The small plates allow guests to try a few items, which are perfect for groups who like to try and share.
Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with the three owners of Crush, Jim Altamura, Mark Anton, and Kevin Moran. The trio came together a few years ago with a perfect blend of experience and expertise to create Crush. The goal these talented men shared was to generate something different from anything else around, and they have succeeded in doing so. The clean, casual atmosphere at Crush gives way to a modern, city-style experience right in the heart of Seaside. The attention to each and every detail, from food to service, is what really brings everything together.
When the idea of Crush was born in 2009, Jim Altamura wanted to get it right from the start and he immediately thought of Mark Anton and Michael Dragon, owners of Borago Restaurant. You see, back in 1999, Jim sold Borago to Michael and Mark, which spawned a relationship that has lasted through the years. Mark, ready to expand, decided to invest in Crush. Mark's role would be to oversee the kitchen as well as hire the kitchen staff.
Kevin Moran, with a history a fine dining management and a second level sommelier certificate, was just what Crush needed to hit on all cylinders. Kevin is the operations manager and handles everything from hiring and ordering, to events and specials. Kevin’s previous experiences, such as becoming the sommelier turned general manager at Seagar’s in Sandestin, really made him a prime candidate to be the third investor.
Jim Altamura is a well-known name in SoWal, acclaimed for his creativity and his audacious entrepreneurial spirit. Jim has always been deeply involved in his restaurants, and continues that method with Crush and Marina Café in Destin. Jim, Mark, and Kevin still collaborate on menu changes and other restaurant decisions at Crush. They are all very hands on, which is a main reason they are so successful.
Travis Reese, executive chef at Crush, is the newest addition to the team. Travis has years of experience from Key West to Destin and plans to add even more offerings to the diverse menu. Whether you are in the mood for pan-seared scallops or crab cakes, blue crab or Tuna Nicoise salad, or piccolo peppers or an American Style Kobe Beef burger, Crush has favorites that surpassed my expectations.
In 2010, Crush opened a permanent, covered patio on the front of the restaurant. This is a place to chill out and people watch. After opening, tragedy struck our beautiful waters of the Emerald Coast. Knowing the oil spill in the Gulf would put a damper on business, they had to work just that much harder. Crush impressed and pushed through the hard times, and has come out on top as a successful restaurant which visitors and locals love to frequent.