Seagrove Village Market Closing After 60+ Years
October 24, 2015 by Audrey Johnson
Get your grouper sandwich fix now, while you still can. October 29 is coming up fast, and, sadly, it’s the last week the Seagrove Village Market Café will be open at its current location. The historic Market and bona fide SoWal icon is being torn down to make way for new development.
Longtime owners George and Ann Hartley plan to reopen nearby after approval and construction. The new building will resemble the old market to provide continuity. But the old market needs to go out in style so a sendoff party is in the works at the end of October when everyone will have a chance to say goodbye and share their stories.
And 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.
Seagrove Village Market Café is still the 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. Visit Seagrove Village Market Cafe at 3004 Highway 395 (at the corner of 395 and Scenic 30a) in Seagrove. Stay social at www.Facebook.com/SeagroveVillage.