March 27, 2020
By Laura Holloway
SEASIDE – You instantly like Dave Rauschkolb when you meet him, recognizing him as a true local. Unpretentious and friendly, he’s a surfer, explorer, family man, community advocate and activist who just happens to be the genius behind some of 30A’s most successful and longstanding restaurants: Bud and Alley’s, Taco Bar, and Pizza Bar.
Fate may have set the ball rolling for Rauschkolb’s restaurant career, but a hard work ethic and determined drive for greatness have made him a leader in the game for decades and inspired others to forge their own paths toward entrepreneurial success.
Bud and Alley’s – which is described as South Walton’s longest-established restaurant – found its beginnings as the result of a fateful happening between Rauschkolb, his former business partner and chef, Scott Witcoski, and Seaside founder Robert Davis, a meeting that literally happened while Rauschkolb and Witcoski were driving down 30A on their way to surf in Panama City.
Today, more than 30 years later, Bud and Alley’s flagship restaurant is one of the most desired locations for dining in the area, memorable by food and drink, a classic and classy dining environment, and a rooftop deck that hosts a sunset celebration packed most every night of the year. The ringing of a brass bell signals the setting of the sun each day, and the simplicity of this tradition all at once awakens and soothes the soul, reminding visitors and locals of the very reason the 30A area is so special.
Bud and Alley’s motto is “Good food. Good people. Good times.” and these words are reflected across the mentality of the staff, the atmosphere of the restaurant, and, of course, the flavors of the menu, offered for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast serves up traditional plates like a Southern Style Breakfast with two eggs, wheat toast, grits or steak fries and sausage or bacon, as well as coastal starters like Shrimp and Grits with cremini mushrooms, sweet peppers, veal reduction and bacon.
Lunchtime offers a Half Pound of Boiled Shrimp with cocktail sauce and remoulade; BBQ Head-On Shrimp with andouille sausage, garlic, rosemary, and white wine served with Tuscan bread; and a Grilled Chicken Breast and Portobello Melt sandwich, with cherrywood smoked bacon, aged provolone, and Duke’s mayonnaise served on a ciabatta bun.
Of course the dinner menu shines with the Grilled Gulf Fish of the Day (served with baby lima bean and sweet corn succotash, basmati rice, and lemon aioli), BBQ Braised Pork Shank (served with cauliflower mash and crispy sweet potato), and a 16-ounce certified Angus Prime New York Strip (with grilled asparagus, smoked bacon mash, and chimichurri sauce).
Bringing new flavors to town
The success and popularity of Bud and Alley’s inspired the opening of Taco Bar and Pizza Bar, each offering fresh, inventive dining options of Mexican and Italian fare, respectively.
“There was no Mexican food in Walton County at the time. And there was a little place right there next to Bud and Alley’s and I thought, ‘Let’s open a taco bar!” Taco Bar, an order-at-the-counter spot offering south-of-the-border favorites like Baja fish tacos, homemade guacamole, burritos, top shelf margaritas and cold beer, is an ideal place for those traveling to and from the beach.
“A short time after the opening of Taco Bar, Robert asked me to look at a nearby location for a potential Italian restaurant, and I really didn’t want to do it at first,” Rauschkolb recalled. “I felt like I had too much going on. But he persuaded me by taking me to California to a string of pizza places. No one was doing authentic wood-fired, Naples-style pizza and Italian food, and I wanted to fill that void.”
Pizza Bar opened shortly after, which offers sit-down meal service as well as service at the bar. Delivering its own memorable flavors, Pizza Bar serves an Antipasti Board (wood-fired vegetables, cured meats, house cheese and Black Bear sourdough), Grassfed Beef Meatballs (with marinara, parmesan, chili flakes and honey), and a mouthwatering selection of wood-fired pizzas available for in-house diners and those looking for a simpler takeout experience.
The “Red Pies” selections include the San Marzano (with garlic, arugula, pecorino, and olive oil), The Vegan (with Violife vegan mozzarella, broccolini, red onion, and kalamata olives), and the Prosciutto di Parma (with prosciutto ham, arugula, and fresh mozzarella). “White Pies” offer the Farmer’s Market (with fresh seasonal vegetables), the Clam Pie (with Cedar Key clams, parmigiano-reggiano, parsley, chili, and fresh mozzarella), and the Quattro Formaggi, or Four-Cheese Pizza, which boasts mozzarella, fontina, parmigiano-reggiano, gorgonzola, and pickled red onion. Diners can also create their own pizza from an assortment of toppings.
Each of Rauschkolb’s restaurants sources local ingredients whenever possible, including GreenMans Gardens, Inland Seafood, City Produce, Louisiana Lagniappe, Covey Rise Farms, and Black Bear Bread Co., the latter of which Rauschkolb created with business partner and Chef Phil McDonald.
Bud and Alley’s, Taco Bar, and Pizza Bar can be found at 2236 E. Co. Hwy. 30A in Seaside. Bud and Alley’s is open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and reservations can be made online at budandalleys.com or by calling 850-231-5900. Taco Bar is open daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and more information can be found by visiting budandalleys.com/taco-bar or by calling 850-231-4781. Pizza Bar is open daily from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., and can be reached by visiting budandalleyspizzabar.com or by calling 850-231-3113.