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Drew Messina Brings the Good Life to Gulf Place at Messina's

July 2, 2014 by Manny Chavez

There’s new fire at the old Fire Restaurant location at Gulf Place and the new establishment, Messina’s, is tended by owner Drew Messina. Since the fifth grade, Drew remembers working in his family’s Kenner, Louisiana restaurant “doing little things.”

He worked up to “doing bigger things” at the family restaurant and also attended the Sciafani Cooking school, furthering his culinary skills. He opened his own restaurant in 1994, combining his cooking skills with the cherished Messina recipes. Shortly after Hurricane Katrina, Drew’s brother George changed the Messina restaurant to a catering hall for special events. He then was able to garner valuable experience while working the French Quarter Festival, the Super Bowl, Dickey Brennan’s Bourbon House, and The Louisiana Fair Grounds among others.

Shortly after the 2013 Super Bowl held at the Louisiana Superdome, Drew decided to seek out potential restaurant locations in the Destin/South Walton area. His contacts indicated to him that there might be a location at Gulf Place that would interest him. When Drew first walked into the old Fire Restaurant location, he knew his search was over.
 

“When I saw this building, when I saw the brick walls, when I saw the cement floors….I knew this was me,” recalls Drew. His business plan and concept was put into action and within 2 or 3 months he was able to open Messina’s on Jan. 4, 2014.

Drew describes his basic concept as “casual dining with a Five Star flair…. regardless of which menu items are purchased, all customers will be given the same first-class treatment, the highest level of service. Everything on our menu is designed to separate our restaurant from any other restaurateur on 30A.”
 

 

“When people want to come in here casually and want to spend less than $30 per person, they can. You can also come here and have a Five-Star experience by ordering a Chateaubriand, a flaming bananas foster and spend $150 per person. We’re going to have a maître d’ and a sous with table-side service. We are going to also offer a Chef’s Table if you want to step it up to the highest level of service.

With packages of $150-$300 per person, it is an 8-course meal with the finest food and deserts that we are able to produce, with the finest wine and spirits. The only difference between the $150 and the $300 offering is the difference between the wine and the aged bourbon, scotch, and wine selections served right at the table. The flaming bananas foster would be right next to the table,” continues Drew. The concept is, when you pay for this service, if it is 6 or more people, Messina’s arranges to pick you up and drop you off at your location. “This is the highest level of dining experience you can get,” explains Drew.

When the food is served at Messina’s, all the entrees are “gang-dropped” at one time, and the individual plates are all “gang-bussed” after the meal.
 

 

At the bar, Drew is proud of his offerings which, again, he hopes to distinguish Messina’s from other restaurants in the area. With the finest scotch and bourbon selections, custom blue cheese stuffed-olive martinis, signature limon cello, Italian milk punch drinks, and flaming martinis, he hopes to attract the discerning customer, one who appreciates tremendous service and quality experiences.
Messina’s also offers Sunday Brunch from 10:30-2 p.m. Brunch here is ripe with unexpected delights such as Italian Benedict, Crawfish Creole Benedict, and a 7-layer pancake lasagna.

Drew has also introduced an entertainment segment to Messina’s with Arts and Carafe’s Tuesdays, Wine Down Wednesdays, and for the “late-nighters”, Throwback Thursday beginning around 9:30 p.m. The Thursday happening includes a DJ and the restaurant is not restricted by Walton County noise ordinances since the dancing and ”carrying on” goes on inside and there are no neighbors living next to or above the action. Drew is very aware of this aspect and likes to start late where “no music is played until the last check is played,” as he like to put it.
 

 

 

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Manny Chavez

Manny and his wife Kris moved to the Emerald Coast in 1992. After 16 years as staff photographer for The Houston Post, Manny has successfully transitioned to creative weddings and beach portraits.

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