May 23, 2021
By Sarah Murphy Robertson
GRAYTON BEACH – When reading about a restaurant established in the fall of 2015, you might not expect extreme customer and community loyalty and a well-cultivated, committed staff culture. But in five short years, owner Kenny Griner has created exactly that at Grayton Seafood Co.
Griner spent 25 years in the restaurant business in Pensacola and could set his watch to his customers. So transitioning to our resort economy on 30A was a leap of faith. “My goal from the very start was not to be the biggest, but to be everyone’s favorite,” he shared. Kenny is quick to credit many factors in their success including his partner, Tabitha Miller. “She’s taken to this business like a duck to water and I credit a tremendous amount to her – especially over this last year,” he emphasized.
The rest of the team is, in Griner’s words, “the best staff on 30-A.” The entire group takes pride in a job well done and Griner and Miller want them to learn and grow in their roles. Often appreciative guests will ask to come back and thank the kitchen for their meal. “I can’t tell you how much satisfaction they get after working so hard on a dish to hear it was enjoyed, Griner revealed.
Supporting the local economy through trusted long-held relationships with local fishermen and purveyors has also been a big part of running this restaurant. But it goes even deeper than that. Griner firmly enjoys being an ambassador of local species and educating his guests about lesser-know fish.
“I am very proud that customers who only visit 30A a few times a year, come here for the Sheepshead for example,” he mused.
By creating a menu around what is running, they can ensure they offer the freshest and best dishes.
“Every morning I wake up and find out what is available based on the season, the weather, and the regulations,” Griner explained.
Grayton Seafood built down their current menu on customers’ favorites. They center regular offerings around the most popular dishes, but daily specials are well-crafted and often sell out. If you want to hear the favorites of the owner himself, Griner says it changes day-to-day. Sometimes he craves the comforting Creole Linguine Alfredo and sometimes the mood just calls for fresh oysters, ice cold and straight from the half shell.
Griner shares there is nothing romantic about a restaurant business – lots of hard work and prep goes into each service. The loyalty this spot has created comes from the service they provide, but also from the quality of their food and attention to detail. When asked about the prep work involved, Griner commented on the 21-ingredient homemade remoulade. It took him years to perfect their version of this punchy sauce.
“There’s nothing that annoys me more than being served ketchup and mayonnaise as remoulade,” he disclosed.
With all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into running a restaurant, it is opening time Griner enjoys most. “When I ring the bell I know we have worked hard all day and are more than ready to serve some good food,” he explained.
In a small town you’ll hear a lot about shopping local, loving locals, or sourcing local. But ask any year-round South Walton local, Grayton Seafood Co. is absolutely “Serving Grayt Food” and that is no tall tale.
Grayton Seafood Co. is located at 50 Uptown Grayton Circle, Grayton Beach. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 9 p.m. Reservations only. Text 850-714-2155 to get on the reservation list, or check out www.graytonseafood.com for more information.