Seagrove Village Market Closes After 66 Years [Update: Re-opening Nov 19]
November 5, 2016 by Audrey Johnson
Sundown on October 29, 2015 was the end of an era as a day-long celebration of Seagrove Village Market Café came to an end. Free food, beer, wine, and music was shared with hundreds of people inside the old market, and outside in the parking lot and on the street. George and Ann Hartley went out with a bang and opened the doors of the old market for the last time. It's scheduled for demolition to make way for condos.
[Originally published Nov. 2015. See below for the latest updates on the NEW Seagrove Village Market Café.]
Longtime owners George and Ann plan to re-open nearby after approval and construction. The new building will resemble the old market to provide continuity.
What a story the market would tell if walls could talk. For years, the market was the only place nearby to buy gas, or use the payphone. Seagrove developer C.H. McGhee first opened the Market in 1949 when Scenic 30A was just a little piece of dirt road. He stocked it with basic necessities for the handful of families that owned homes.
Those same homeowners would keep a spare key in a box at the Market. If family came down or a repair person needed to get in the house, they would just go to the market and pick up the key.
By the time the 80s rolled around, you could buy beer at the market and food at Ernie’s Café in the back. When George suggested buying the market in 1999, Ann thought he was crazy. After all, George didn’t know anything about the restaurant business, and on top of that, he began pulling 18 hour days to keep it running.
“When we bought it they cooked on a Bunsen burner in the back and it’s just morphed into something great,” says Ann.
Scarfing free grouper, shrimp, and burgers on the last day party.
Seagrove Village Market Café has always been a great place to get kitschy souvenirs and Seagrove Beach t-shirts. Not to mention some of the best beach food around the likes of grouper sandwiches and cheeseburgers and a shrimp po-boy the same way it’s always been made. Because, George says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
The old Seagrove market is a legend among longtime locals. It’s sentimental and nostalgic and it belongs to a time before paved roads and development. A place in time where charge accounts and bike rides to the store existed. A place where you can get the news and the best burger you’ve ever had in your life. A place for community.
What makes this small town, and really every small town special is threefold. It’s the people, the food, and above all, the love. And that’s what Seagrove Village Market Café has done so well. Deep fried love since 1949.
Ultimately, it’s really a sad thing that it’s being torn down, but as George says, “It’s not what happens to you. It’s how you handle it.”
The Hartleys are working on plans for a new market close to the current location. George and Ann promise to serve exactly the same grouper sandwiches, po-boys, grouper tacos, and burgers with a little bit of an expanded menu.
“It’s a great place and it’s touched a lot of lives and it has good juju and we hope to bring that to the new location,” says Ann.
Stay tuned to SoWal for news about the new store opening as our friends close one chapter and start a new one.
More info and discussions on the SoWal Forum...
And it's gone! :-( December 18, 2015
George & Ann Hartley are now the owners of V Seagrove. Plans are underway for a re-opening projected for late Summer. It is likely that the restaurant will remain much the way it is with tweaks by George and staff. He's proven to be very adept at the restaurant business since taking over Seagrove Village Market Cafe in 1999.
George and Ann subsequently opened George's at Alys Beach and La Cocina in Seacrest, both of which were sold last year. Ann just opened a new retail store in Alys Beach.
George says the new V Seagrove will "be tweaked" - there will be a new chef and a new staff, a new menu that may keep some dishes from the previous menu, and the restaurant will not be "fine dining".
The construction of the eight condominiums above the restaurant is moving ahead at full speed. Once the concrete pouring phase is complete, the restaurant will be able to re-open. The construction staging area will be reduced to the eight parking spaces and driveway reserved for the future condos.
At about the same time it is also expected that George's new Seagrove Village Market Cafe will also be complete and ready to open. It will be on the north end of the property. The new building will have a facade facing Scenic Hwy 395 that resembles the old market. The main entrance will be on the south side facing the parking lot. There will also be porch seating all along that side.
The new building is under construction!
George Hartley beams like a proud poppa.
The walls are up and the roof is on.
Expected opening is set for November.
Update: 10/6/16 - Paint is on, the sign is up, the interior is being finished off and kitchen build begun.
Just a little over a year ago we said goodbye for a little while....and now we're right around the corner from saying HELLO AGAIN! We can't wait to see EVERYONE on Thursday, Nov. 19! www.facebook.com/SeagroveVillage