Uptown Grayton Holds Many Surprises

September 5, 2012 by Joyce Owen

In Uptown Grayton on the eastern edge of Grayton Beach, there's a little something for everyone. You can have breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert, and stay busy in between - do your banking or meet your accountant, take an art workshop, try on new clothes, buy flowers, or relax with a cappucccino.

Owner Tony Derck knows his retail center is a little out of sight, but when a group of 30 Realtors recently attended an open house at QTile Design, he was amazed 18 of them had no idea what was tucked beyond the arches at the entrance on Scenic 30A.

What’s there is an interesting mix of shops, anchored by Starbucks and Another Broken Egg Café.

Tony and his wife Mary loved the brightly colored shops in Lake Como in Italy and copied the style when designing Uptown Grayton. The center has fun water features including two koi ponds and several fountains.

For the first time in three years, the center is fully leased. Getting the perfect blend in those 18 tenants requires patience and the willingness to say no to some ideas.

“I turn down two out of three proposals,” Tony says.

It’s better to have an empty shop than fill a space with a tenant that doesn’t fit, he says.
Recent tenants are bringing new energy to the center.

Cars parked on 30A are an indication Wunderland Candy and Craft Factory is holding an art class. Lululemon athletica employees visit yoga studios and workout facilities to introduce their yoga and running clothing lines, which brings visitors to Uptown Grayton. But Tony doesn’t discount the popular dining establishments as a draw.

“Another Broken Egg is packed, bursting at the seams,” Tony says.

Starbucks is another gathering spot for crowds.

The Graytest Little Ice Co. & 30A Fresh Donut Maker provides the perfect treat for weary shoppers.

Little Italy Ristorante will reopen in mid-October. Tony says although they lost the season due to a fire, the Italian eatery is popular with locals and winter guests, so even an off-season opening should do well.

While Tony discovered South Walton in the early 80’s, Mary had summered in Seagrove Beach throughout her childhood. When they first came, Tony wondered what there was to do. But soon they decided to build in Seaside. They opened Azure in Seaside in 1988. They also had shops in Garrett Plaza.

That changed when a banker asked why he leased space from others. Tony’s response was to build. Borago and Affairs, now Lily Pads, opened in 1995. When a nearby parcel came available, Uptown Grayton was developed. The project started in 1988 and was completed in 2005.

One aspect of Uptown Grayton that appeals to tenants is the flexible schedule. Opening daily during the season is a reality, but in the off-season, shop owners can reduce the number of hours or days they are open. 

Stop in Uptown Grayton, you will surely find a surprise among the grayt variety of shops and businesses.

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