By Liesel Schmidt
Aug. 2, 2023
EMERALD COAST – While the organization now known as The St. Joe Company was originally founded in 1936 as a paper company, over the past few decades it has become synonymous with some of Northwest Florida’s top destinations to live, work, and vacation. At one point, St. Joe was the second largest private landholder in Florida, with more than a million acres of property in its holdings. As they began to focus more strategically on Northwest Florida, properties in other parts of the state were sold off while the company built its empire along the Gulf Coast of Florida. Now that empire is continuing to grow with an ever-expanding list of award-winning restaurant concepts under The St. Joe Company name.
Just to name a few
Taking advantage of the abundance of fresh seafood available, Fish Out of Water (WaterColor) and Havana Beach Bar & Grill offer coastal fare at its finest, each with their own particular spin and vastly different atmospheres. FOOW is known for its laid-back, casual vibe, while Havana Beach brings a more upscale feel. The latter, located at The Pearl in Rosemary Beach, includes Havana Beach Lounge and Havana Beach Rooftop, complimentary yet different in their menus and ambiance.
Looking for Southern classics? WaterColor’s Scratch Biscuit Kitchen serves up made-from-scratch biscuits in a casual, family-friendly environment where Southern comfort food is made fresh from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Southern coastal cuisine is on the menu, right alongside gorgeous views at Harrison’s Kitchen & Bar, located in Panama City’s Historic Downtown area.
Guests at the Hilton Garden Inn at Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport will love the Garden Grille & Bar, an amenity also open to the public as well as hotel patrons. The menu features American fare, with a cooked-to-order breakfast menu and familiar favorites from lunch to dinner.
Newcomers to The St. Joe Company portfolio include Blu Poolside Bar & Grill, located at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Panama City Beach Resort; Steam on 5, a rooftop dining venue located at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Panama City; and Tarpon’s, located at the Hotel Indigo in downtown Panama City. All are open to the public as well as hotel guests, making them the perfect draw for locals and visitors alike.
“We’re fortunate to be able to offer our restaurants in wonderful locations,” said Matt Moore, corporate director of projects and concepts for The St. Joe Company. “Wherever the location, we strive to create a great experience at our restaurants, whether through the ambiance and view, by bringing in a live band to offer a more social scene, or with something just as simple as seeing a smile on the server’s face as they greet a returning customer. Most importantly, we listen to our guests and adapt our menus based on their feedback.”
Listening to their guests and offering a great experience is a hallmark of The St. Joe Company, as is creating a positive work environment for their staff. “Our approach has always been to create a ‘work family,’” Moore said. “When our family is intact, our guests will always have the best experience with their family and friends at our restaurants. That mentality of family and friends serving family and friends is at the root of what we think of as the true spirit of Southern hospitality.
“At each of our restaurants, we also strive to create a sense of place, reflective of the surrounding culture and nature,” he added. “We provide a quality and integrity of service, whether you’re visiting one of our fine dining restaurants or fast-casual restaurants. At every one of our locations, we hope that you always feel recognized and enjoy the experience of being a part of our community when you dine.”
As they continue looking to the future, Moore said that The St. Joe company will remain steadfast in meeting the needs of the community.
“When there’s demand for something new, we want to be able to offer unique dining experiences that are a perfect fit for the community.”
Photos by Kurt Lischka