Seagrove Village Market Café Celebrates Anniversary
November 21, 2017 by Manny Chavez
It was a sad day for many SoWal folks back in 2015 when the old Seagrove Village Market Café was torn down.
But thanks to owners George and Ann Hartley, the “new and improved” café re-opened last year (November 2016) just a stone-throw away from its original location, still serving up the same “Deep Fried Love” that it is famous for.
George goes on to explain, “our goal was to re-create as best we could the spirit and soul of the old market...the same food, the same photos on the walls, the same red baskets, the same menu.”
The old dining booths were moved into the new main dining area along with the original front cashier counter and tip jar painted by the late, legendary folk artist Woody Long.
“When the demolition was taking place, we noticed the original fuse box hanging by a wire, so we saved it and it now adorns one of walls in the men’s room,” says George with pride. The old market was on its last leg and there is only so long that duct tape and good vibes can hold a building up!
The Hartley’s, along with the McWhorter Valle’e Reese Design team, made sure that the red and white signature awnings adorning the front of the building were replicated. The interior dining area is larger while the front retail space is smaller. Souvenir gifts (caps, tees, mugs) are still available and can be purchased at the counter or shipped to customers.
The porch area is covered now and bug-free due to a unique screen that allows for people to see out, but not in from the outside. A few outdoor tables are also available on the Hwy. 395 side of the café. During those rare cold, frosty days, the porch design allows for outside-the-screen shutters to be lowered. “Comfortable all year,”says George. The Seagrove Village Market Café II building design earned the architects the 2017 AIA Merit Award for New Construction, NW. Florida Chapter.
Although the menu is basically the same (old-time favorites include the Grouper or Shrimp Po-Boy Sandwich, the Shrimp or Fish Tacos, the Oyster Po-Boy, the Market Burger, and the Market Salad), new items include the Andouille & Shrimp Po-Boy, Chicken & Waffles, and the George’s Smokehouse Pork Chop. Kids can still tear into 2-piece Chicken Tenders, Grilled Cheese, Kids Shrimp or Fish or a Hamburger/Cheeseburger.
All fish/shrimp servings can be ordered fried, blackened, or grilled. Classic sides include Collards, Market Fries, Broccoli Salad, Cole Slaw or Mashed Potatoes. Signature sides include Mac-n-Cheese, Whole Fried Okra, Fried Green Tomatoes, or a Side Salad. The Grouper Sandwich is still hands-down the most-ordered menu item. Ice tea, sodas, and beer & wine are available. All servings are substantial with the Homemade Key Lime Pie always a great way to seal the meal. A new Southern Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie has been added to the dessert menu.
As George has frequently pointed out, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! We are still using original owner Ernie and Betsy Walker’s recipes. Not only that, but I still adhere to his advice: ‘buy it fresh, cook it to order, and serve it with a smile.’”
“On-the-Go” customers will be glad to find that “Market Café II” now has a Walk-Up to Go window making it so much faster to order and pick-up your takey-outy. Long-time Café waitress Christy Fleming says, “our customers tell us that they Loved the old market, but they now Love, Love, Love, the new one!” Guess three Loves are better than one!
George and Ann seem to have hit their restaurant sweet spot with both their Seagrove Market Café and Surfing Deer restaurants on the same parking lot! He busies himself walking back and forth from one to the other with his middle son Hall now the assistant manager at the Surfing Deer. “Hall started off washing dishes at the old Market, so he knows the business from the ground up,” says George.
George sees the community involvement of the Market continuing. He was a little apprehensive in the beginning, especially when, during their first week open again, one of his old customers just didn’t want to enter the new café. His wife kept pleading with him to enter and when he finally did, he confided in George that the new place “nailed it!”
He knew then that the success of the “new and improved” market would be welcomed back by the community that had, for so many years, made it to the top of the “Eatin’ Place” list for locals and visitors to SoWal beaches. As George so aptly puts it, “Come and Get You Some!” His favorite—"the Shrimp Po-Boy, always has been, always will be!”
For more information or to order to go, please call 850-231-5736. Location: 2976 S. Hwy. 395 (just north of Scenic 30A, same parking lot as Surfing Deer in Downtown Seagrove). Hours: Monday-Saturday, Lunch, 10:30-5 p.m., Dinner, 5 p.m.-8:30 p.m.; Sunday, Lunch only, 10:30-2:30 p.m. Visit their website.