I'll never forget what it was like when we first opened Bud & Alley's. Johnny Earles and his partner Skip were already enjoying a thriving business with Paradise Cafe where the Red Bar sits today. In 1985 there were only 4 or 5 places to eat so I would have expected, at the time, that Johnny would have seen us as a threat to his solid business. Something quite different happened though. Scott Witcoski, my business partner and I became instant friends with Johnny. Johnny welcomed us and even gave us tips on how to handle the seasonal business challenges. When he needed to borrow some linen or a case of tomatoes we were there for him. If our ice machine died we were welcome to fill a container of ice from his machine. From this, I believe, a path of support, cooperation and inclusiveness along 30A was set in motion that continues today. The next big restaurant to come along was Harriet Crommelin's restaurant, Thirty A Cafe. Harriet moved down from Montgomery to realize her dream of living and working on the beach. While she was scouting the area and working on her opening she would sit in the same place at the downstairs bar at Bud & Alley's. Harriet probably had a couple of hundred meals in that spot during the building process of the new Cafe 30A. Of course we hit it off and instantly supported and even “cheer-leaded” and praised each other as was the case with Johnny Earles. Those early friendships set a tone; a tone of a strong commitment to supporting, encouraging and helping other new owner operated businesses that came to the area. Not a tone born out of fear of competition but a tone of inclusiveness and support. A tone that continues today. There always was enough business to go around and with each new addition the result was a rich tapestry of shopping, food, lodging and services we all enjoy along the 30A corridor. Fortunately for us the 30A area continues to be predominately owner operated and we should continue working together to keep it that way. Also, the bar of quality is very high here. Just opening a business along 30A does not guarantee success yet, it seems, there are more quality businesses opening and staying open every year. We all benefit greatly from this. With each new business comes a unique dream of success and a contribution to our community. Sometimes these people are locals and others have realized their dream of moving here and opening a business. I have had the deep pleasure of watching many, many former employees of mine break out and create successful, enduring businesses as well. I truly have been amazed at the level of support for each other that exists along 30A. Fortunately it appears that the type of “back stabbing” that occurs in other markets is rare here. We should not tolerate unsupportive, predatory and over controlling behavior regarding 30A either. Fortunately, the perception, insight and action of the 30A community is a powerful moderator. I say all this because I believe this certain behavioral characteristic or tone of our community is a good thing that should be recognized, acknowledged and continued. We all share in the ownership of 30A, North and South Walton and the responsibility to keep this tone of positivity and inclusiveness intact. Coexistence, cooperation and support of each other is one of the key defining factors of our greater 30A community, South and North Walton. Let’s work together to keep it that way. WE are 30A. We are Walton. Photo: 1986/87 Bud & Alley's front entrance.