Adding another story to Seaside
By Sarah Murphy Robertson
June 11th, 2019
Consistency is an essential ingredient to any restaurant’s success. Bud &
Alley’s owner, Dave Rauschkolb, takes that notion a step further, believing in
the importance of his business as a constant and familiar anchor in Seaside.
As the town continually evolves and changes, he wants Bud & Alley’s to
remain a familiar touchstone for the generations of visitors and locals who
enjoy time there.
It is clear Rauschkolb feels endlessly fortunate for the opportunity he was
given at the age 24. In 1986, Seaside was still a blank canvas and the
restaurant was essentially a turn-key operation.
“All we had to do is clean it up, create a menu, and hire staff,” he recalled.
It was on the way to a day of surfing, when Rauschkolb and his business
partner Scott Witcoski were invited by Robert Davis to stop by to see the
“As I think back, Robert gave us the keys and we just went over to look at it
by ourselves,” he said.
Walking in, with views of that emerald water before them, it’s easy to
wonder if these two knew they’d quite literally been handed the keys to the castle. Throwing themselves into making the business a success, Rauschkolb remembered how he’d commute from Fort Walton.
“We couldn’t afford an ice machine. The six days a week we were open back
then, I would load up 50-gallon drums of ice in my pick-up truck and work to
get it to the restaurant before it melted.”
Fast forward 33 years after entering its doors, Rauschkolb wants to be sure
he can leave a thriving business to his young daughters one day, should
they choose that career path. In 2017 he was thrilled to purchase the land
itself from Robert Davis and the current renovations underway are a part of
the “towering possibilities” he hopes to pass along to the next generations.
You see, Bud & Alley’s all started as a single-story space with a tower on
top. The space has seen multiple renovations over the years, with one of the
more notable projects being the addition of a rooftop deck in 1994.
Their current remodel is a large-scale undertaking, and the project required
thoughtful planning and attention to timing. The renovation plans feature a
rooftop deck expansion, the addition of second story bathrooms, creation of
a roadside kitchen, a new walk-up restaurant and bar, and notably: a three-
story tower complete with an elevator entrance leading to the roof deck.
Collaboration on the design plans with experienced and revered Seaside
architect, Dhiru Thadani, ensure the original buildings will marry seamlessly
with the new construction.
Completion of the project is scheduled for the end of 2019, but “I am
heartened to say that we’ve carefully phased the expansion to allow staying
open for business,” Rauschkolb noted.
One special facet of Bud & Alley’s is everyone has their favorite space to
dine. While Rauschkolb is excitedly focused on the future, when it comes to
where he chooses to sit at the restaurant, his taste reflects a bit of nostalgia.
“My favorite place to eat is still this corner table, in the original porch dining
room, where it all started,” he admitted.
Diners also have their favorite dish at Bud & Alley’s family of restaurants.
From the popular crab cakes or the pan-seared Diver scallops, to a wood-
fired pizza with the perfect char at Pizza Bar, everything is composed using
the best ingredients and most elements are scratch-made, including the
sourdough bread baked daily.
Always looking to do the yet-undone, Rauschkolb opened the Taco Bar when
there wasn’t any other Mexican fare offered in Walton County and the Pizza
Bar tossed the area’s first Neapolitan-style pies.
“We’ve always wanted to be unpretentious and fun, that’s why we named
our flagship restaurant after a dog and cat,” he said.
As construction continues and architectural renderings come to life, Bud and
Alley’s is quite literally adding another story to its Seaside story. The long
view sure looks to be as beautiful a tale as their first chapters were.
Bud & Alley’s Waterfront Restaurant & Bar is located at 2236 E Co. Hwy.
30A, Santa Rosa Beach. Open daily for breakfast, 8 to 11:30 a.m., lunch
service runs 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., and dinner service begins at 5:30 p.m.
Contact them for reservations at 850-231-5900 or online at
This story appears in the 2019 summer edition of the Food & Wine Guide for South Walton.
Photos by Michelle Farnham